Pros: GPS; runs Android apps; Battery life; fast; infinitely expandable
Cons: Pre-production, so there are still software issues; not for the technical newbies
The Omate TrueSmart was the KickStarter smartwatch darling of 2013, raising over one million dollars, or ten times its funding goal. After multi-month delays due to production issues, I've finally gotten my unit! It's essentially a smartphone scaled down to watch size. Here's how it stands up:
The TrueSmart boasts a functional design that's great for outdoors situations. This watch will not win any beauty contests. However, it's water resistant, tested to withstand 30 minutes at 1M underwater. It also works in cold. So folks who do kayaking, brief dips in the pool, and any winter sports will be well served with this watch.
The TrueSmart runs some hefty hardware for a watch! It has a dual core Coretex-A7 CPU, offers up to 1GB of memory (hint: go for this option; Android is slow on 512MB) and up to 8GB of storage space. These stats are basically what you'd get in a high end phone from a couple of years ago, or a midrange phone even today.
The display is "good enough"; it's low resolution (240x240 pixels), but it's sufficiently clear and it's bright enough for daytime use.
The battery seems to last more than a full day even under moderate to heavy use. (Note that heavy use for a smartwatch is probably different from heavy use on a cell phone or tablet.)
For connectivity, you name it, the watch has it! Bluetooth, GPS, Wifi, even cellular data/voice. While you could use it to make phone calls, browse the web, and play regular Android games, you probably won't want to. Where the phone shines (or rather where it will shine) is in apps built for the smartphone. Ski Tracks for example is a fantastic app that works well on the watch. Endomondo Sports Tracker works well on it too. The TrueSmart will really blossom once developers start to understand how to build apps for its screen.
The TrueSmart can also synchronize with your Google account, so you can get emails, notifications, and anything else that's communicated through Google services. Again, developers will need to exploit these features to unlock the smartwatch's true potential.
Standard digital watch features work great too, like calendaring, calculator, voice notes, alarm clocks, etc.
Navigating the Device
You primarily navigate the TrueSmart with the touchscreen. In theory, you can flick the watch to see the time, though a bug prevents this feature from working. Fortunately, there is a side button to turn on/off the screen (and show the clock). If you want to do anything more though, you do need to take your glove off to touch the screen. Once you're running the app you want though (in my case, Ski Tracks), you can just let your watch go.
The touch screen uses gesture controls. It can be fussy and sometimes misreports on taps. The keyboard, due to its small size, is maddening. I would never write more than a word or two on it. Use your smartphone for that.
I feel I can't be too harsh on the smartwatch right now; it's a kickstarter, and early backers can't expect a perfect user experience until the device hits production. However, I can't yet recommend the watch for people lacking technical skills; there's no official documentation on even navigating the watch; the device requires patching from moment 1 for security reasons; and you do need to take extra steps just to get the Google Play store on it. There are also some hardware/software bugs that are being worked out; the watch's shake-to-wake function doesn't work, for example. Hopefully the TrueSmart team steps up their game for the full production release.
While the TrueSmart is not currently for the faint of heart, I think it offers a ton of potential. For now I'm giving it a 3/5, but may raise that score as bugs get worked out and more useful software becomes available.