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Acer Leap Ware hands-on review: Acer’s first circular wearable

Acer Leap Ware hands-on review: Acer hasn’t pushed out a wearable since 2015 and even then its Leap-branded trackers didn’t always make it to our fair shores but the company just unveiled a new member of the family, the misleadingly-named Acer Leap Wear Ware.

The Leap Ware is a notable departure from the company’s previous activity trackers, leveraging a more conventional timepiece aesthetic that gives it the appearance of a smartwatch more so than your average wrist-worn monitor, not that dissimilar in styling from Pebble’s Time Round.

A fully circular 1.1-inch transflective backlit LCD sits within a 1.6-inch diameter face. There’s chromed detailing around the edge behind which the rest of the Ware’s body is almost entirely formed from black plastic, so whilst Acer may have aimed at premium, in actuality, it still landed within the realm of budget, from a design perspective.

Flip the tracker over and you’ll find Acer’s ‘one-touch’ optical heart-rate sensor, skirted by contacts that mirror those found either side of the watch’s main face. Collectively they’re aimed to deliver better heart rate monitoring, but also feed into a host of other metrics, which if they actually work as promised, seem pretty impressive for this low-cost fitness companion.

Acer claims that the Leap Ware can log more than just your heart rate, steps taken or calories burnt but also stamina, stress levels, fatigue levels and even warn you of excessive UV exposure, however, we’ll have to test it out in the real world to see just how on-the-money such functionality actually is.

Despite how its name may sound, Acer hasn’t broken into the Android Wear game with the Ware. Instead, the tracker uses a proprietary OS, primarily driven by swiping and tapping on the display or pressing the right key to go back or home. It seems simple enough to navigate around with a simple, consistent colour scheme, options for tracking walking, running, cycling and hiking, and even basic smartphone features like notifications.

To actually leverage the Ware’s abilities you can pair to either iOS or Android smartphones over Bluetooth, with all the data running through Acer’s Liquid Life Fitness app. As well as collating your workout sessions, the app will also gamify your progress and add in a social element so you can challenge your Ware-toting friends to hit certain targets, similarly to the experience found on Jawbone’s UP wearables.

Performance falls to a MediaTek MT2523 chip, which may account for the stuttering user experience, whilst the company’s MT2511 bio-sensor chipset is on-hand to manage some of the activity tracking elements specifically. The Ware also charges via a magnetic connection on the back and should dole out a wholly respectable three to five days of use, which thanks to the screen tech and innards at play, seems wholly attainable.

The Ware is protected on the front by Corning’s Gorilla Glass SR+ and more broadly by IPX7 water resistance. The narrow 20mm bands feature quick-release latches so you can swap out the navy rubber band for the light brown leather one, but Acer actually teased a few more straps concepts it could potentially turn into real accessories down the line, with more colourways and more diverse material choices including denim.

You might have noticed a reluctance to commit to the claims Acer is stating are within the Leap Ware’s capabilities, as based on our initial impressions, it feels decidedly underpowered, lacking basic UI fluidity and raising more questions about its competency in other areas too.

Still, Acer’s re-entry into the activity tracker space means another option for this competitive market to fight over. It’s the priciest smartwatch Acer’s ever pushed out at €139 and should hit stores across Europe in Q3 this year.

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