After a shaky start, the Italian made im Watch smartwatch has finally hit American shores, although in short supply. Labeling itself the “the world’s first real smartwatch,” great claims have been made and great expectations were had for this aesthetically pleasing smartwatch. Does the im Watch live up to the hype? Read on to find out …
The im Watch smartwatch is based on an unimpressive 400 MHz single-core CPU, has a paltry 128MB of RAM, and an overabundant 4GB of internal storage. From the moment you first engage the watch, it becomes painfully obvious that the CPU and minimal RAM are insufficient to meet the needs of the GUI and included applications. This seems to be the same area in which other smartwatch manufacturers misallocate resources: they skimp on the processor and RAM, and splurge on internal storage. In my humble opinion, they should be doing the exact opposite. I want a smartwatch with a snappy interface and apps that instantly and seamlessly accomplish their specific purpose. Media resides on my iPhone that automatically syncs with my master collection located on my desktop. Accordingly, I only need enough internal storage to house apps. The sooner smartwatch designers figure this out, the better …
Out of the box, the im Watch Smartwatch emerges from minimalist packaging. Not in a strategically designed “save the world” fashion like Apple, but more like i’m was rushed to get the product out the door. The manual is less than helpful and troubleshooting requires significant Do It Yourself skills.
Charging of the im Watch is achieved in approximately one hour through a nonstandard USB cable that sports a 3.5mm headphone jack on one end. Such proprietary USB cables seem to be the norm as the Pebble E-Paper Watch uses a nonstandard USB cable with a magnetic attachment point. I would prefer that manufacturers begin using nonproprietary micro or mini USB cables, as I always seem to have one lying around. Unfortunately, even with sparing use, the charge only last for one day.
Another unfortunate element of the im Smartwatch is that it requires an iPhone or Android device with Bluetooth tethering enabled. Absent such capability, the smartwatch cannot install apps or receive firmware and software updates. Therefore, if tethering is not offered as a standard feature by your cellular service provider, you need to subscribe to a tethering plan which generally costs $15 – $30 per month. This is a significant deal breaker for me that simply is an unnecessary design flaw.
The most enticing feature of the im Watch, is the ability to make and receive calls from the watch itself. Unfortunately, sound quality is so bad on the watch that this feature is completely unusable. In fact, at this point they might as well just take it off the feature list entirely.
App installation and modification is not user friendly either. Much like Logitech with their Harmony universal remote, i’m requires you to create an account at their imcloud online store and to be logged in to make any software changes to the watch. This is unnecessarily cumbersome and another deal breaker for me. However, this flaw becomes irrelevant when you experience the bugginess and unfinished feel of the included apps.
On a positive note, the oversized 4GB of internal im Watch storage easily mounts as a drive on your computer and would be perfect for transferring data and for obviating the need to carry a thumb drive in your pocket. However, since the watch employs a nonstandard USB connection, there is no way to get your data off of the watch without lugging the proprietary cable around. Another swing and a miss …
After spending some time with the im Watch Smartwatch, I have come to the conclusion that it does only one thing well … it looks good. Italians are world-class masters of industrial design and fashion, and this smart watch looks great on your wrist. I was constantly receiving inquiries and complements. Unfortunately, that is where the delight ends. When it comes to practical application, the i’m Watch falls flat on its pretty little face (pun intended). If the Italian smartwatch makers can significantly enhance the user experience in version 2 of the im Watch, this digital timepiece might be a contender. However, in its current form, I say steer clear as the frustration of trying to put the watch to its intended purpose clearly outweighs its value as a decorative wrist ornament. Waiting for v 2.0 … and, of course, for the Apple iWatch
** I will update this review should a worthy software upgrade be forthcoming.