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Hands on: Asus ZenWatch packs plenty of style and great features

We had the chance to go hands-on with an Asus ZenWatch at IFA 2014, and this Android Wear smartwatch looks to be a serious rival to the likes of LG’s G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live thanks to an abundance of style and slick features. Here’s our hands-on review.

Some smartwatches pack in plenty of great features, but forget that most people want great design too. After all, this is something you’re going to wear every day, for the world to see.

Thankfully the Asus ZenWatch rocks tons of great features and Google’s slick Android Wear OS, but also nails it in the looks department.

Asus ZenWatch hands on review with UK specs price and release date at IFA 2014

The ZenWatch’s stainless steel face boasts a gorgeous curved design, and while it may be quite chunky, it’s no thicker than rival watches. It definitely feels more premium than the plastic G Watch and we prefer the sloping, rectangular design to a simple square watch face.

You get a leather strap with a clasp design, which again beats rival rubber efforts.

On the back of the ZenWatch you’ll find a menu button, which can be used to quickly change the watch’s settings – screen brightness, hibernation, reset and so on. Much more convenient than LG’s fiddly stab-it-with-a-pin effort on the G Watch.

The ZenWatch comes with tons of clock faces, which display when the watch is in ‘hibernation’ mode. We particularly liked the analogue face, with a second hand that moves seamlessly around.

Asus Zenwatch hands on review at IFA 2014 plus specs and UK price and release date

Swipe the face and you’ll be taken into the main Android Wear interface, where you can check your emails, see how well your exercise for the day is going, etc. You can also double-tap the ZenWatch’s face to ring your phone, if the little bugger’s lost itself down the back of the sofa again. Or you can cover the watch face to mute any incoming calls. It’s all nicely intuitive and we found ourselves zipping through the interface in no time.

If you wake the watch up and then swipe down from the upper left corner, you’ll be presented with a list of downloaded apps, which really opens up the ZenWatch’s features.

For a start, you can remotely access a camera on another device such as the Asus MemoPad 7, seeing through the lens on the ZenWatch’s screen and taking a photo with a quick tap. There’s a slight delay which is a shame, but it’s pretty impressive for a quick and dirty Bluetooth setup.

There’s also a built-in heart rate monitor in the ZenWatch’s frame. Just press your finger to the stainless steel bar beneath the screen and the watch can measure your pulse and even tell you how stressed you are. Our ‘32’ rating will most likely be in triple figures by the end of IFA 2014, so stay tuned for emotional breakdowns aplenty.

At €199, the Asus ZenWatch is a highly enticing bit of smart tech. We were told by an Asus representative that the ZenWatch will be available in the UK by Christmas, hopefully for a price under £199 – perhaps around £180-£189. Stay tuned for a full review.

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