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4 top Android Wear watches: A hands-on guide

JR Raphael | Dec. 18, 2014
So many watches, so little time! We compare the Moto 360, LG G Watch R, Sony SmartWatch 3 and Asus ZenWatch.

Charging the G Watch R is simple enough: You just line the device up properly and then place it onto its magnetic charging dock. Unlike the 360, the G Watch R uses a proprietary charging system -- meaning the official dock is the only charger that'll work.

LG's G Watch R isn't the most elegant or premium smartwatch in the Wear lineup, but it fills the "casual" role admirably -- and with its comfy round shape and exceptional display, it's pleasant to use and easy to recommend.

Sony SmartWatch 3: The sporty smartwatch
Price: $250
Some people wear watches for fashion. Others wear them for fitness. If you fall into the latter category, Sony's SmartWatch 3 might make sense for you.

The SmartWatch 3 is a simple square screen in a black rubber strap. The strap connects with a metal deployment clasp that you set once for your size and then just snap together whenever you want to put the watch on. The setup is nowhere near as stylish or design-focused as the other Wear watches, but it's about the only one I could envision wearing for a jog or to the gym.

Available in black or lime green, the rubber strap is quite comfortable, and the watch can actually pop out of the band completely. That could eventually allow you to change between different color bands on the fly, with no tools and very little effort required. (While Sony's website shows a couple of "exchangeable strap" options, it doesn't appear to sell them as of yet.)

The SmartWatch 3 has an ambient light sensor like the Moto 360, and it consequently remains optimized for the environment and easy to read even in bright and sunny conditions. The one quirk is that the device's dimmed mode (which is what you see whenever you aren't actively using the watch) is extremely dim and monochromatic -- to the point where it's often difficult or even impossible to read.

As part of its active focus, the SmartWatch 3 has the unusual (for a device not focused exclusively on fitness) feature of on-board GPS. That means you could go out for a run and have the watch keep track of your progress without your phone in tow -- a valuable option for a lot of folks, and one you won't find on any other Wear device. Only a few apps take advantage of the functionality so far, but more fitness-centric programs are said to be developing support for this feature.

The SmartWatch 3 charges via a standard micro-USB cable that connects to a flap-covered port on the device's backside. That's nice in theory, as you don't need any special accessory or charger to power the watch up, but prying open the flap and getting the cable to fit in is an awkward and frustrating chore compared to the more typical drop-it-on-a-dock alternative.

 

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