Review Price £150.00
MetaWatch Strata - Concept
The smartphone has spent the last 10 years killing the watch, but could they now be about to revive it? We met up with Fossil spin-off MetaWatch which not only believes the watch's best days are still to come, but that the comeback begins this month…
September sees MetaWatch start distribution of its 'Strata' smartwatch to developers and early backers. This category of customer comes from MetaWatch's hugely successful KickStarter campaign which saw it raise over three times its initial $100,000 (£62,223) funding goal. A consumer release will begin later in the year and ramp up to full distribution in 2013. We took a closer look to see what has everyone so excited?
Like all the best ideas, the concept behind the Strata is simple: a watch which receives smartphone alerts such as incoming calls, SMS, emails, calendar reminders and social networking messages and displays them on its screen. The benefit to runners, drivers and those on the move is obvious, but it comes as part of a wider objective of 'hands freedom' which MetaWatch argues is about helping us better filter information so we only take smartphones out of our pocket when we really need to.
To achieve this, MetaWatch doesn't see the Strata as a watch, but a smartphone accessory. It uses the low power Bluetooth 4.0 protocol to connect with an iPhone or Android handset and access their alerts (more of which Apple opens up to third parties with the incoming iOS 6 mobile operating system. On top of what is mentioned above, the Strata can also control music playback, display weather and GPS information, replicate alarms and provide proximity alerts to stop you walking off without your phone (Apple employees take note).
Another clever aspect is that while the Strata has six main buttons (three each side) both they, the display layout and all software updates are handled via the MetaWatch Android and iOS app (being released soon). Configure the Strata using the app and this is sent to the watch via its Bluetooth connection. MetaWatch has also open sourced all code to give developers a chance to build their own features which can then make additional third part apps or be baked into the official app.
Will the constant Bluetooth connection kill your smartphone battery? MetaWatch believes the reduced need to continually check your phone should offset it. On the flip side, it does limit the Strata to just five to seven days of battery life, when watch users are used to years at a time, but there is a rechargeable battery and proprietary USB charge cable.