Asus just announced a second-generation ZenWatch this week, but until that one arrives, the original ZenWatch is still one of the best smartwatch values around. Let's go hands-on to see how it compares to the most expensive Android Wear watch, the LG Watch Urbane.
When the LG Watch Urbane launched, it was the only smartwatch running the latest version of Android Wear (which happened to be Google's biggest update yet to the wearable OS). But since then the ZenWatch has received that update too, making software a wash. And since both watches have the same processor, storage and RAM, that leaves style, display and battery life (in addition to price) as the biggest differences.
We think both watches are pretty sharp-looking, but we'd give the edge to the Urbane. There's something about a round screen that really stands out on a smartwatch, and LG hit a nice overall tone with the Urbane's clean and metallic design.
Both watches are pretty big – and with our expectations shifting a bit after using the much smaller Apple Watch, you could argue that these are both huge. The Urbane is 18 percent wider and 16 percent thicker, though, so the ZenWatch does have some advantage there.
When you look at display area (a more telling measurement than screen diagonals), the watches' screens are almost exactly the same size. The ZenWatch's display is sharper (278 pixels per inch vs 245 PPI), but, in our experience, we don't see much of an advantage when handling both devices.
In terms of battery life, these are two of your better choices among color touchscreen smartwatches. You can leave both of their clock faces set to "always-on," and still last a full day – with plenty of room to spare. For these early Android Wear watches, that's as good as it gets.
One more difference – that may not affect most shoppers, but could be very important to some – is water resistance. The Urbane is rated IP67, while the ZenWatch is only IP55. That means the Urbane can survive full submersion (in 1 m of water for 30 minutes), while the ZenWatch is only approved for splashes and "jets" of water.
If none of the differences so far have swayed you towards the Urbane, then you're probably going to be better off with the ZenWatch. Asus' watch costs US$200 next to the Urbane's $350 price tag. Considering these two are almost exactly the same device in two different styles, you have to really like the Urbane's round screen and smooth bezel to justify that premium (though we wouldn't blame you if you did, as it's a pretty snazzy-looking watch).
Another thing to keep an eye out for is a price drop on the ZenWatch, now that its 2015 sequel has been announced (though we still don't know exactly when the ZenWatch 2 will be coming, or how much it will cost).
This was just our quick run-down of the two, but for more you can check out our features/specs breakdown of the two smartwatches. And for deeper dives on each, feel free to revisit Gizmag's full reviews of the LG Watch Urbane and first-gen Asus ZenWatch.