At an event earlier this week, LG launched the Watch W7, its first hybrid smartwatch. At first glance, the device is a bit odd. Also, I left the camera at the event - mainly because I'm an idiot - and I've been able to see some others' opinions of the device since.
It seems that a lot of people don't like it, and I can see where they're coming from. There's a thing on top of the display, and it blocks some of what you're trying to see.
I think that it's worth taking a look at how we use smartwatches though. I can't speak for everyone, but I certainly don't use any apps on smartwatches. I use them to check the time and to receive notifications without taking my phone out of my pocket.
For this purpose, the Watch W7 is perfect. Those hands make it easier than ever to check the time on the watch. They do block the notifications a bit, but not in a major way. If it is, you can press the top button to move the hands and raise the content.
Conversely, the fact that that button had to be built is proof that the product is flawed. I do think that it's a step in the right direction.
It runs Google's latest Wear OS update, so there's once again a new UI for Android smartwatches. As usual, you'll press the large button on the right for your apps, and they'll now scroll along the bottom half of the round screen.
The biggest thing that the Watch W7 has going for it is the design. It looks like a real watch, with its stainless steel body. It's a bit pricey at $449 (ok, not just a bit), and when I asked about that, I was told that that's because of the design; it's a piece of jewelry and not just a smartwatch.
My biggest issue with it is that it's powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset. The firm recently announced the Snapdragon Wear 3100, making some major improvements to the architecture. Basically, it scales down big.LITTLE to the smaller form factor, with something that Qualcomm calls big-small-tiny. That means that there are some big improvements to power management.
While you probably won't exactly miss the new processor, the device is expensive. When I buy expensive technology, I want it to have the latest components.
But I do like the overall form factor. I think that we're long past the days of assuming that smartwatches are going to get some "killer app" that's suddenly going to make them mainstream. Let's accept smartwatches for what they really are. They're watches that you can get notifications on, and I think that the Watch W7 is a step in the right direction.