[IFA 2014] Asus announces ZenWatch at €199 (S$329)

And let the games begin! With IFA kicking off today, the first smartwatch announcement comes from the Taiwanese manufacturer Asus, more well known for their motherboards, graphics cards and laptops than their mobile division. While they are not the first to hop onto the Android Wear platform – Motorola and LG jumped aboard in March – they do have an intriguing feature in their watch. Read on to know what it is.

Lauded for their well-built laptops, Asus were again quick to highlight the craftsmanship of the ZenWatch, rather than the features it has. And looking at it, you know this is designed for timepiece connoisseurs first and techies second. The ZenWatch has a stainless steel case; its face is made of curved glass, and it comes with a leather wristband.

Of course, the ZenWatch isn’t devoid of features; it is a smartwatch after all. Compatible with smartphones running Android 4.3 or higher, it lets users view incoming calls, notifications, messages and other info. If you have an Asus smartphone, the watch will integrate with its ZenUI apps; in one example, you’ll be able to get reminders from your to-do list. In another, you can see what’s next on your schedule. Combined with the Padfone, this will give you a smartphone, tablet and smartwatch for just about €800 (S$1300).

CREDIT: MASHABLE, STAN SCHROEDER
CREDIT: MASHABLE, STAN SCHROEDER

An especially clever feature called the Remote Camera lets you see your phone’s camera viewfinder on your ZenWatch, which could be handy for taking those odd angled shots. Honestly, I’m surprised Samsung didn’t think of this earlier even with two generations of the Gear available.

Just like Gear manager, you can configure the watch’s face and other details using the Asus ZenWatch Manager smartphone app. The quirky feature is that ZenWatch also works as a “wellness manager”. This means it  measures your relaxation levels using something Asus calls the “bio sensor.” Other measurements include steps taken, calories burned, heart rate and exercise intensity, making it appealing to fitness-buffs too.

With the glut of smartwatches being rolled out, and differences being minimal, it seems to us that many will opt for the best-looking one or the one that co-opts you into a well-established ecosystem (sorry Samsung, Tizen is not one of them). As said above, if sold as a package with the Padfone, the ZenWatch might truly be impossible to resist.

It will be retailing in Europe for €199 (S$329). What do you think about the ZenWatch? Yay or nay?

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