Tech company, Acer, is known for their powerful gaming computers, monitors, laptops, and even a 360-degree voice camera. One of the huge number of new products that were announced for release by Acer on April 27th, included a smartwatch.
This smartwatch made by Acer is called the Leap Ware smartwatch. For those of us lucky to see this new smartwatch in person, at first glance, it doesn’t seem all that groundbreaking — now, this is just an initial impression for this wearable, which hasn’t even been released for mass purchase yet, so some of these issues may yet be fixed by Acer before release.
The product demo tables for the Ware were outside in Manhattan, NY — in the sunlight — not the best idea since it’s difficult to get a sense of the real illumination of the LED display indoors or in the dark
First, the watch features Acer’s own proprietary software, and when using this prototype, that software felt a bit slow and sluggish (again, this is something that Acer should fix — if not because they already planned on it, then because of the feedback from critics). While we applaud wearable brands for creating their own software or using something beyond Android Wear 2.0 (which so many brands seem to be using), if it is not done correctly, it can seriously limit the potential of a smartwatch. And the Leap Ware may become a victim of its own innovation.
The watch case is round in shape and the display is a color touchscreen– it also has one interesting feature in it you don’t see in smartwatches or even hybrids — an LED flashlight. It wasn’t clear exactly how bright or effective this flashlight was, being outdoors in the city sun, but Acer has stated that this feature is great for things like “unlocking your front door late at night” and can be used for safety when running or jogging outdoors at night.
The integration of a flashlight inside of a smartwatch or fitness wearable is something we can understand on a certain level — it is useful for when you don’t want to grab your phone to turn the flashlight feature on — but unless you wear the watch on your left wrist, you may not get use out of it.
There are also some practicality issues to think about — since smartwatch batteries aren’t really getting better as consumers have hoped, how much power will a minute of LED use take from the watch? Hell, what’s the battery life in general? We don’t know yet.
I certainly like that Acer has taken heed of what consumers are looking for in the looks department — the circular and sleek display is surrounded by a polished steel bezel with buttons on the sides and a flat-looking face display. The case looks to be made from a dark plastic, however, and steel would have been a better choice. You can, however, choose from a navy rubber/silicone straps or go vintage with a brown leather.
There are extra sensors that make up the sides of the case — when you touch them, it begins to collect health measurements, including heart rate, stress — but how this is assessed by the watch is unknown. Acer has not yet been definitive with these features, but said it could measure additional things such as blood pressure.
Two good things about this wearable is that it has a built-in heart rate monitor on the back case and features IPX7 water resistance. When it comes to charging, there are four connectors that attach for a magnetic charge.
While the design is pretty decent (but not incredible), the other issue is the display screen. We do know it is a Transflective LCD display, but as far as graphics and pixelation goes, we have not yet been given that information. If Acer proves to impress with the display, then the issue seems to be with the minimalist nature of the graphics — kind of an odd design when skimming through the watch — it definitely feels more like a fitness band than a full-blown smartwatch (which it is supposedly intended to be).
Also, since the Leap Ware uses proprietary tech and doesn’t run on Android Wear, in order to pair it with your Android or iOS device, you will have to go through the Acer’s Liquid Life application. This is how you can set your fitness goals or compete with others — but how many others will even have an Acer wearable, though?
Tech Specs — What We Know So Far
- Case Size: 42mm
- 1.6” Face Size
- Shape: Round
- Display: Transflective LCD
- Gorilla Glass SR+
- Compatible: iOS and Android
- Band Size: 20mm (Navy Blue and Light Brown options)
- Chipset: MediaTek MT2523
- Acer MT2511 Bio-Sensing Chip
- IPX7 Water Resistance
- Features: Heart Rate Monitoring (built-in sensor), Stamina, Stress/Fatigue Levels, UV Ray Exposure, Side-Flashlight
As for pricing, the price of the smartwatch is good but it makes us wonder if we are correct about the seemingly lower quality of the case material, the proprietary OS, and the display.
Acer will be putting the Leap Ware on the shelves in North America beginning in July for $149.00. It will be in the EMEA region during the second half of the year sometime starting at 139 Euros.