LG shows us what’s up its sleeve: First impressions of the G Watch

The LG G Watch has been official for several months, but information on the device was thin. That has all changed at Google I/O, where the new smartwatch was completely revealed, and will subsequently be put on sale through the Google Play store. Despite early indications it would be, the G Watch is not the first Android Wear smartwatch to be put on sale. It will be joined by the Samsung Gear Live, pitting the two arc rivals against each other once again.

Update by Nick Mokey on 6-25-2014: I’ve added our first (albeit brief) hands-on impressions of the G Watch today at Google I/O. We’ll have a full review in the next week or so.

LG has brought a compelling package along to the fight though. The G Watch has a 1.65-inch LCD touchscreen boasting a 280 x 280 pixel resolution, which is slightly lower than the Gear Live’s pixel count, but has equipped the device with a Snapdragon 400 processor. That’s the same model found in smartphones such as the Moto G. The big chip is accompanied by 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage space. 

Built from stainless steel, the G Watch’s body is covered in something called PVD, which stands for Physical Vapor Deposition, and is known for being light and durable. The 22mm strap can easily be swapped for one of your own, but comes as standard in black or white silicon. If you choose the white strap, the G Watch’s body is in a fetching gold color. Like the Gear Live, the G Watch also has an IP67 rating, so it’s resistant to water and dust.

LG makes a big deal about the always-on touchscreen, which permanently displays the time, and will also show incoming call information and notifications, along with GPS directions, calendar entries, and music playback controls. Android Wear is voice controlled, and you can reply to text messages or perform web searches without interacting with your phone. Like the G3 smartphone, LG is pushing the G Watch as an easy-to-use device that will simplify your life.

In our brief hands-on time with a semi-functioning demo unit, the G Watch felt every bit as bulky as earlier, slab-like predecessors such as Sony’s SmartWatch SW2, but felt admirably sturdy. A design milled from a piece of stainless steel makes itself felt. The generic black silicon watchband is nothing to write to GQ about, but we trust most style-conscious owners will swap it out for something more personal anyway. LG claims it went with an IPS LCD over OLED because of superior power consumption and color accuracy — while that may be true, it doesn’t have the vivid OLED pop that would set it apart from similar competitors. That said, the biggest selling point with every Android Wear device will be Google’s new software, and we haven’t been able to fiddle with that yet. Stay tuned.

The G Watch will be sold through the Google Play store from June 25, and it’ll be available in the United States, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Korea, and Japan. A further 27 other countries will see the G Watch sold through retail stores soon afterwards, including Australia, Singapore, and Russia. The G Watch will be priced at $230 and will ship “around” July 7.

CONTINUE TO PAGE TWO FOR A ROUNDUP OF NEWS AND RUMORS PUBLISHED PRIOR TO THE G WATCH’S LAUNCH

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