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Android-based Gameband smartwatch lives a second life as a gaming machine

Why it matters to you

If Android Wear or WatchOS doesn't do enough to scratch your gaming itch, the Gameband might be worth a look.

If you have ever looked at your smartwatch and wished you could play games on it, you might be intrigued by what FMTwo Game Inc. cooked up with its Gameband smartwatch.

As the name so subtly implies, the watch focuses on gamers and does so with two versions. There is an Atari version, which includes classic Atari titles like PongCrystal Castles, and Asteroids, and a Terraria version that includes a minigame based off the original title. Regardless of the watch version, the Gameband ships with 20 minigames and several pre-installed apps, such as calendar, weather, and contacts.

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The Gameband’s focus on gamers is also evident through its MicroSD card slot, which accepts up to 256GB cards and augments the 4GB of built-in storage. That card slot lets you connect the watch to your PC in order to run PixelFurnace, which not only lets you download and install watch games to your Gameband, but also store PC games on the watch. That way, when you connect the watch to another PC, you can play PC titles on that computer through the PixelFurnace app.

Elsewhere, the Gameband features a 1.63-inch, 320 x 320 resolution AMOLED display, with the watch powered by Qualcomm’s wearable-focused Snapdragon 2100 processor and 512MB RAM. The hardware is powerful enough to run a custom version of Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, with no mention of an update to the newer Nougat. As such, you will not find Android Pay or Google Assistant, features included in Android Wear 2.0, though Amazon’s Alexa is available as a substitute. Voice control does not work out of the box, though the folks behind Gameband said it is “in the roadmap.”

The biggest concern is whether anyone will actually play games on such a small screen, even if only for a few minutes. The Gameband already surpassed its $75,000 goal on Kickstarter, so more than a few people are at least interested in the idea. It also helps that the cheapest available tier starts at $150, so you will not need to plunk down a fortune to experience it for yourself. The campaign is available until March 17, after which the Gameband will go into full-scale production and hopefully make its way to backers in September.