Hands-on with Vector's long-lasting smartwatch

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Gizmag goes hands-on with the newly announced Vector smartwatch (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag.com)

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The Vector smartwatch is available in both square and round-faced models, and makes use of a memory LCD display alongside a low-powered OS to provide a (claimed) 30-day battery life. The product's creators were keen to emphasize the simplicity of the device, but how does it measure up in the flesh? Read on as Gizmag goes hands on with the brand new wearable.

Both the circular Luna and square-faced Meridian models have a comfortable weight to them, and the construction feels solid, if not all that premium. There are a wide variety of finishes available across the range, including silver and matte black steel cases and a choice of leather or metal link straps. The idea is to cater to a wide array of tastes, and most of the material combinations work well.

As there's no touchscreen on offer, control of the wearable is handled via a set of three physical buttons, located on the right side of the device. The middle button activates the backlight, while the upper and lower buttons switch between user-selected functionality.

The control method is simple and works well, but doesn't feel entirely elegant in its current form. The company did mention that it's considering revisions to the control scheme, which could make things a little snappier by launch.

Vector hasn't announced a resolution for the monochrome memory LCD displays, and pixels are certainly visible on the models we tried. That said, information appears clearly, and the simple style of the proprietary OS works well with the screen technology.

We tested the device in a low-lit environment, which isn't ideal for the watch's display. Like with Pebble, it's much easier to see the information on the screen when there's a light source shining directly on it, which takes a little getting used to if you're used to touchscreen watches like Samsung Gear and various Android Wear watches. Whenever you want to use the Vector watch in the dark, you'll have to rely on the backlight, which is activated by pressing one of the side buttons.

Changing the look of the watch face, as well as which features you want active on the device, is controlled by the smartphone companion app. The app's design echoes the simplicity of the smartwatch's OS, and employs a simple, carousel-based method of showing what's currently active on the watch.

Available news feeds, watch faces and more are positioned along the base of the UI, and can be activated by dragging them into a central band of installed features that stretches across the center of the display. When a new watch face or piece of functionality is added to the active carousel, it's instantaneously available on the paired Vector watch.

It's far too early to say whether this will make for a great consumer product, but the company is targeting a (Northern hemisphere) summer launch for the device, by which point it will be competing with a more mature smartwatch market – including Apple's debut in the space.

While the wearable's lengthy battery life and simple design language will go some way to distinguishing it from its rivals, the level of functionality that it has to offer will likely be key to its success. Things are looking promising on that front, with the device already boasting IFTTT support, and the team encouraging third parties to get on board with the new wearable.

The round-faced Luna Vector watch will start at US$349, while the square-faced Meridian will retail for a more wallet-friendly $199.

Product page: Vector

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