LG G Watch Review!

Watches are functionally boring. Their primary task of displaying the time has been figured out for centuries, which is why modern wristwatches are celebrated for their complications, the extra things they can do beyond mere timekeeping. No complication has been more fundamental or profound than the present rise of the smartwatch, as embodied primarily by Google’s Android Wear. So long as there’s a smartphone nearby, an Android Wear watch will receive notifications, control music, take notes, count its wearer’s steps, and generally be much more useful than the typical wrist-worn timepiece.

In the space of a few months, Android Wear watch designs have gone from the utilitarian LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live to the thoughtfully designed Moto 360 and now the LG G Watch R. Even for the rapidly moving world of personal electronics, the improvements between these devices and the pace at which they’re being introduced are quite extraordinary. It’s an evolution of the smart mobile device happening at revolutionary speed.

The G Watch R is LG’s Android Wear watch. It’s the product of a three-year development program to produce a perfectly round OLED display and tens of thousands of hours of design research. Whereas the original G Watch was essentially a proof-of-concept device, the G Watch R looks like a legitimate contender. To justify its $299 price, however, this watch must first rely on Android Wear’s appeal as a desirable complication before proving itself as something more than a dress watch with a techie side — which is a position already occupied by the cheaper and classier Moto 360.

LG G Watch R review
To find out what I can do with asmartwatch that I couldn’t do without one, I have to jump through a few Google-mandated hoops. Like all Android Wear watches, the G Watch R won’t even show the time without being synced to a compatible Android handset. The sum of Android Wear functionality for owners of iPhones or Windows Phones is zero. Once I have the watch up and running, I’m also encouraged in the strongest possible terms to enable Google Now, which brings in a lot of potentially useful, ambient information such as weather updates and sports scores. By the end of the relatively quick setup process, I find myself that little bit deeper enmeshed in the Google information ecosystem, which is intentionally built into the heart of every Android Wearsmartwatch.

For Google, the point of smartwatches isn’t to do unique things but to make the things I already do with my phone quicker and more convenient. Android Wear is a branch of the smartphone experience rather than a whole new tree. Most commonly, that means the watch taking over as the primary notification station of my online life. Beside the obvious Gmail messages, other apps that deliver push notifications — such as Twitter and Trello — also make an appearance on the G Watch R. Some include a limited ability to respond directly from the watch, but more often than not they leave the user with just an “Open on phone” option.

Voice commands and dictation are a major part of the extra functionality that the G Watch R offers over conventional watches, but they are too limited and consistently frustrating. Android Wear is really good at handling requests like “set an alarm for 5 minutes from now,” but trips over itself anytime I want to say more than a couple of words at a time. My transcribed email replies and Google Keep notes are punctuation-deprived run-on sentences because any pause is interpreted as the end of a recording. I can totally see the benefit of being able to just twist my wrist, tell Google to take a note, and jot down my latest recipe idea while I’m busy preparing it in the kitchen. Hands-free interactions are exactly the thing that smartphones are worst at and represent the greatest opportunity for smartwatches. Alas, Android Wear only has the right idea, not the right execution. Using voice commands is more often aggravating rather than assistive, and the casual responses of “Didn’t catch that” from the watch feel patronising instead of friendly.

Two other functions of the G Watch R stand out for me: the music and camera controls. The camera stuff is easy and fun: I just open the camera app on my phone and the watch buzzes on my wrist and turns itself into a big handy shutter button. Once a photo’s taken, it can be previewed on the watch as well. As to music playback, Android Wear can control any audio app, skipping between tracks and adjusting volume. Google’s attention to detail is shown in its color-matching of the music controls to the album art of whatever song is playing. Both the camera and music additions are neat and pleasant to use, however there’s nothing in them that can’t be reproduced with something as simple as an in-line remote control in a set of earphones.

LG G Watch R

The Google Now cards that appear on the watch are also not implemented too well. Firstly, while I appreciate the roundness of the G Watch R and Moto 360, these circular displays are really terrible for showing the square Now cards. Email notifications float up from the bottom of the screen, which would be more reasonable with a square display, but leaves me with just a snippet of the sender’s name on the G Watch R. The same happens with the weather, which this morning was “9 degrees, Mostly Clou…” Whether it be LG or Google, someone should have reworked these alerts to make better use of a round screen.

Perhaps more than anything, though, my disappointment with Android Wear stems from how much I’m still using my smartphone even with the smartwatch on my wrist. The watch’s remote music controls become redundant when I’m reading or playing something on the phone, and all too often a search or an interaction on the watch will direct me to “Open on phone” anyway. Turn-by-turn navigation is available on the watch, but it’s of dubious added value relative to just using my phone. What Android Wear represents right now is a great basis on which to build a true smartwatch platform, but it feels like a distinctly unfinished product in its current state.

LG G Watch RWhile LG has done next to nothing to improve the software proposition of Android Wear, it has thrown pretty much everything at giving it the best possible hardware. A thick leather strap connects to a chunky steel case that feels rigid and substantial. The underside of the watch is plastic, accommodating LG’s heart rate sensor and magnetic charging connector. The whole device is waterproof and feels extremely durable. LG has clearly aimed for a classical round-face design that would make the G Watch R suitable to be used as a fancy dress watch, but that ambition has not come at the cost of ruggedness. The elevated bezel that surrounds the display and shows minute indicators adds an extra layer of protection.

I’m less enthused about some of the other practical implications of LG’s G Watch R design. Android Wear expects a lot of swipes from the edges of the screen, which this watch’s protruding bezel makes more awkward than on the minimalist Moto 360. LG has openly admitted that it needs the extra space around the screen to accommodate the fully circular display’s electronics, though that will be of little consolation for anyone looking for a compact smartwatch.

LG G Watch RI didn’t enjoy the G Watch R’s fit on my wrist when I first started wearing it, but once the leather strap relaxed a little and I got used to its presence, it was comfortable to wear for days at a time. This surprised me somewhat, having previously used the much smaller and lighter Pebble smartwatch and expecting the sheer dimensions of the LG watch to be overwhelming. That wasn’t the case. Bonus points go to LG for using a standard 22mm strap that can be swapped with any from the vast variety already available on the market. The wide selection of watch faces and straps should allow the committed G Watch R user to customize this device to perfectly match any occasion or outfit.

With the software running on the Moto 360 and G Watch R being essentially the same, the choice between them comes down to how they look and feel, and the general consensus seems to be in favor of the 360 right now. I think otherwise. LG’s watch has a Snapdragon 400 processor inside it, which is considerably faster and smoother in rendering animations than the Moto’s ancient Texas Instruments chip. Its higher efficiency also helps the G Watch R’s battery last longer: I am able to go a full 24 hours, even on active days, before this watch’s battery is fully drained. That hardly eliminates the added anxiety of knowing I have yet another gadget to charge every day, but it brings the G Watch R into the realm of being plausibly usable on a regular basis.

The G Watch R’s OLED display is another big advantage it has over the Moto 360. Everything looks better on the LG watch, with nice deep contrast, strong saturation that isn’t over the top as with most AMOLED screens, and typically great viewing angles. Because of its perfectly black background, this watch does a much better job of simulating old school analog watch faces than does the Moto. Brightness is no problem for the G Watch R and neither is outdoor visibility. As the hardware centerpiece of a modern device, this display is almost perfect. I’d only ask for more resolution than the 320 x 320 available on this 1.3-inch screen, which is noticeably grainier than most other devices that people use nowadays.

lg g watch r

To like the LG G Watch R, you must like chunky watches. It also helps if you’re into analog watch faces since digital ones fit awkwardly with the roundness of the watch and its permanent minute markings. My favorite digital face has a battery indicator wrapping around the periphery of the screen, which looks cool, but is confusing if you try to read it in conjunction with the watch’s bezel. This sort of disjointed and not yet refined synergy between hardware and software is characteristic of the Android Wear experience.

The good news is that, that particular watch face came as part of a recent software update from Google and LG, and the two companies are committed to aggressively keep improving and enhancing their collective offering. So while the present state of this watch’s software can be considered resolutely incomplete, there’s good reason to anticipate that it’ll keep getting better as time wears on. The universality of the Android Wear platform across manufacturers and the G Watch R’s strong basic hardware make it a good bet to remain a relevant device for some time to come.

LG G Watch ROwning an Android Wear watch today is an early adopter’s luxury. The LG G Watch R is a front-row ticket to the ongoing evolution of Android Wear, however it doesn’t add enough either as a smartphone accessory or as an evolved wristwatch to justify its price on practical grounds. The software is promising, but incomplete. The hardware is good, but bulky. Refinement is the thing required of both LG and Google. File away some of the device’s heft, flesh out the features that are currently available only in skeletal form, and then we can start talking about the G Watch R as a truly smart instrument of productivity and fun.

As of right now, the LG G Watch R’s greatest appeal is to be found as a fashion accessory. It’s a high-tech wearable that combines some of the retro charm of classical timepieces with the allure of expanded, modern utility. It could be both smarter and more charming, but as a step along the path to developing a real smartwatch, it’s a solid stride forward.


Alienware? Steam Machine? …

Alienware Alpha

There was a lot of hype surrounding the impending launch of Valve’s Steam Machine platform, but much of the excitement dissipated when the first wave of machines were delayed until 2015. Now, Alienware is going in alone, and shipping its own consolized gaming PC with an Xbox 360 controller and a custom 10-foot interface. It’s certainly an interesting gambit from Dell, but this offering is pretty weak. It’s not as flexible as a normal gaming PC, and it’s not as cheap as a PS4. The Alienware Alpha just seems stuck in an uncomfortable no man’s land.

At the very bottom end, you can snag an Alpha with a dual-core Intel Core i3-4130T CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU with 2GB of GDDR5, 4GB of DDR3L RAM, and a 500GB hard drive for $549. On the other hand, the top-of-the-line $899 configuration gets you a quad-core Intel Core i7-4765T CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU with 2GB of GDDR5, 8GB of DDR3L RAM, and a 2TB hard drive. All versions come with Windows 8.1, but you can always install SteamOS if that’s your bag. The price is decent for what you get out of the box, but the extremely small case is going to limit your upgrade options. If you want to invest in a high-end graphics card at a later date, it probably won’t be able to fit. Frankly, if you want the full PC gaming experience, just buy a full tower. You’ll thank me later.

Alpha UIAdditionally, it’s worth noting that some new games aren’t going to work with the lower priced models. Some of this year’s major releases like Assassin’s Creed Unity andDragon Age: Inquisition require quad-core CPUs, and the paltry 4GB of RAM will likely be an issue as well. At a minimum, you’re going to need to invest in the $799 configuration to play those games. At that point, you’re spending twice the price of a PS4, so the value proposition is pretty awful.

If you’re a diehard PC gamer, you’re better off building your own rig. If you’re more concerned with price and simplicity, buy an Xbox One or PS4. As for this frankenconsole? I’d recommend staying away. The mediocre hardware and limited ability to upgrade sour this product, and makes the comparatively high asking price seem like a joke.

So, does this spell doom for the future of similar devices? It certainly doesn’t fill me with confidence, but I’ll hold off on making blanket judgments until we see what Valve and its hardware partners can deliver next year. Until then, I plan on sticking to my PS4.

Apple iPhone Rebranded?

iOS 8

According to a report out today from the Financial Times, Apple intends to have Beats Music make the leap from an optional App Store download to a pre-installed, permanent part of iOS.

It could happen as early as March, but it’s unlikely that “Beats Music” will appear with its current branding. Instead, the premium streaming music service is expected to be put under the iTunes umbrella, alongside music for purchase and iTunes Radio stations.

After all, iTunes has something like 200 million users, while Beats Music is estimated to have just 110,000 paying subscribers. Granted, it’s still relatively new compared to a more established streaming service like Spotify, which claims more than 12.5 million premium users and three times as many ad-supported free users.

Like iBooks before it, the rebranded Beats Music will no longer be an optional service available from the App Store, should the report prove correct. Instead, it will appear on all iPhones upon installation of an iOS system update.

Apple acquired Beats back in May, and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor implied in a recent interview that he’s working with Apple on a music delivery service. After this autumn’s U2 album debacle, Apple might want to tread carefully when bundling in media with its software and devices – but at least Beats Music can be hidden away in a folder.

12 Gadgets and Presents for animal lovers

Best Christmas gifts ideas for animal lovers

If your name is Fido, Tibbles, or any other ridiculous name given to you by your human slave master, then congratulations: you’ve gained the ability to read and peruse the internet. And all without opposable thumbs.

If, on the other hand, you’re an aforementioned human slave master, then this selection of the best Christmas gift ideas for animal lovers should be right up your pet-owning street.

We’ve even chucked in a few treats for your furry friends, so everyone’s happy. Bring on the wagging tails.

Or condescending looks and scratches, in the case of cats.


Does that dog really spend the whole day asleep on the sofa while you’re at work? Was that cat really “staying over at a friend’s house” last night? Well, it had to happen: a fitness band for quadrupeds, with sensors that record movement, acceleration and ambient conditions to reveal every detail of a pet’s lifestyle. There’s a basic display on the collar-mounted device itself, but it’s the Bluetooth-synced smartphone app (£free / iOS, Android) that tells the whole story, and allows owners to manage daily activity targets – so they’ll know exactly how many more laps of the park Daniel the spaniel has to do before he’s allowed to go home and hump a table.


Cats are such refined and fastidious creatures. Cats that poo in other people’s gardens especially. Cats that poo in your own garden, slightly less so. Cats that poo in a stinky box of gravel next to the washing machine, less again. This self-flushing, self-cleaning litter ‘toilet’ comes with everything needed to keep it running for four months. Apart from the cat.


For a friend who’s had it with haughty cats and dingbat dogs, we propose the most loving, faithful and entertaining companion of all: the ant. Watch the adorable critters dig their cute little tunnels through the transparent blue gel of this aquarium-like home. You don’t even have to worry about remembering their names, because all ants are called Klaus.


Give the gift of 24-hour live hedgehog action this Christmas. You know those nature programmes where they hide an infrared camera in some nocturnal mammal’s lair and you can see them scurrying about in black and white? This cosy hedgehog home includes the camera, a wireless transmitter and even a microphone so you can hear them arguing about household chores.

BIORB FLOW 30 (£130)

Thirty litres is bigger than a cartoon goldfish bowl but smaller than the sort of aquarium it takes half a day to clean, up to your shoulders in dark green slime and guppy turds. The Flow 30 is a little more conventional-looking than some of biOrb’s trendy aquariums, but the emphasis is on ease of set-up and use. Besides, you’re supposed to be looking at the fish, not the tank.


As the burglar creeps around the side of the house towards the back door, he suddenly sees it: a CCTV camera, and it’s pointing right at him. Rumbled! But then he sees a chaffinch fly out of the ‘lens’. He realises it’s just a cleverly disguised birdhouse for security-conscious twitchers, and proceeds to steal Grandma’s laptop. It’s her own fault for letting the chaffinches stay up past their bedtime.


Place your coin on the little fishy dishy and a pussycat will pop up to paw it back into the box with a grateful meow. How about that for encouraging kids to save their coppers? There’s also a dog version which, dogs being dogs, transfers the coin into the box not with its paw but with its anus.


If you kept real jellyfish in a small plastic tank in the corner of your bedroom, they’d be furious. They’d also be dead after a bit, which wouldn’t look very impressive under the vivid illumination of 18 colour-changing LEDs. So these are fake jellyfish, gliding around in the fan-powered current and waving at everyone with their lifelike tentacles. And no, they don’t sting.


Even though vinyl doesn’t purr when you stroke it, some people love records more than they love animals. Ridiculous, isn’t it? But no matter – these arty/funny 12in prints cover both bases, and will liven up the walls of any nature-fancying audiophile’s listening room. There are four themed ‘box sets’ of three to choose from: ’70s, ’80s, Beatles and Indie Kid. Our favourite image is Diamond Dogs, complete with Bowie-style mismatched eye colours.

Finally, three ideas for the pets themselves…


The hamster is a creature born without dignity, so you don’t have to feel guilty for laughing at the little berk as he ‘drives’ this exercise wheel across the floor of your living room.


Cats need something to scratch because they can’t operate nail scissors. DJs need something to scratch because they can’t play the guitar. This product is for cats, not DJs.


This reward-based puzzle game for dogs is described as ‘slobber-proof’ and has been designed to ‘encourage active thinking and problem solving’. Lord knows they need some encouragement.

End of Days for Windows 7/8?

Windows 7

It’s official – Microsoft has finally binned Windows 7 and Windows 8, meaning it won’t ship as standard on any officially sanctioned Microsoft fare.

The Redmond-based firm recently announced its next OS, Windows 10, which should see a general launch late next year.

In the meantime however, all consumer kit will land with Windows 8.1, with predecessor software relegated to the annals of OS history.

Microsoft stopped flogging Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate on October 31.

Today, however, marks the last retail date of Windows 8, now abandoned in the wake of the 8.1 edition.

It’s worth noting however that you’ll still be able to pick up hardware with the older OS, as many stores will still have stock without 8.1 built-in.

Customers will also be able to downgrade from 8.1 to Windows 7, although it’s not commonly offered or encouraged.

Windows 8 became available to the general public back on October 26 2012, while Windows 7 launched on October 22, 2009.

It’s expected that Windows 10 will see a similarly autumnal launch date.

Windows 10 will see the return of the start menu, newly jazzed up with live tiles, multi-tasking improvement, multiple desktop support, improved touch optimisation, and better cross-platform functionality.

Microsoft Windows 8.1 Denim Update!

Windows Phone 8 update

Microsoft has revealed its next big Windows Phone update is nearly ready, codenamed ‘Denim’.

The firm’s Lumia Twitter page responded to a fan that enquired as to why the update still hadn’t landed, despite promises for a Q4 2014 launch.

The post read: “It will roll out soon following testing and operator approvals.

New features expected to ship with the software update include improved Cortana functionality, as well as 4K video support.

There’s no telling when Microsoft is actually going to release the update however, with the ‘roll out soon’ tip frustratingly vague.

Whatever the case, the Windows Phone moniker for Microsoft’s mobile operating system is running out of time.

At an unspecified time next year, Microsoft plans to drop Windows Phone entirely, instead opting for the Windows 10 tag across all platforms.

Microsoft’s platform-unified Windows 10 will bring a one-for-all app store and better cross-device functionality.

Unfortunately, we still don’t know when the big Windows 10 change-up will happen either, although we’re expecting a pseudo-unveiling at Microsoft’s Build conference in the middle of 2015.

Other features of the new unified OS include desktop-friendly Cortana and the return of the Smart Menu.

Black Friday Console Deals!

PlayStation 4:


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