Samsung claimed yesterday that it “created the smartwatch market” at the release of its latest smartwatch, the Gear S. While this is probably an exaggeration, one thing that is true, is that they have set the price-point for smartwatch wearables, and that price point is expensive. Almost all of their of their products, as well as that of their competitors, have been so expensive that they might turn off initial customers.
Now Asus is trying to change that, with its $199 Zen Watch, the first smartwatch which is being offered for less than $200. The Zen Watch is one of a new array of smartwatch devices being released ahead of the (expected) unveiling of the iWatch on September 9. It runs Google’s new Android Wear operating system, while also featuring a few novel customisations by Asus.
In terms of form, the Zen Watch is built to reflect a more traditional watch aesthetic, rather than the utilitarian form promoted by Samsung. To do this it features a square, 320x320 pixel display mounted within a gently curving glass screen. This is then mounted within a stainless steel housing, and attached to a customised leather band, resembling in many ways the wristbands of traditional watches. The downside to the phone’s cheaper construction however is battery life, with the Zen Watch requiring daily charging.
While it doesn’t have quite as many features as Samsung’s more recent offerings, or the attention to design of the upcoming Moto360, the low cost of the Zen Watch could see it filling a particular niche. There are many people who have hesitated to buy a smartwatch due to them not knowing if this is a product they will indeed find useful, or merely an expensive wristwatch that needs constant charging.
For these people, the Asus Zen Watch represents an attractive proposition. It gives them the opportunity to try out smartwatches and the Android Wear operating system without forking out large sums of money. Should the price be sufficiently low, then the Zen Watch could see considerable success.
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