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Moto 360 2nd Generation: Second time’s the charm?

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I remember my Uber driver asking me what I thought was the next big tech trend. My answer was simple: Modular devices. It seemed obvious to me because in a world of smartphone carbon copies, who doesn’t want to stand out? Imparting personality and specified functions to devices seemed like the best way forward.

He was clearly not expecting this answer and it only was after a few moments of awkward silence that he revealed what he was actually thinking of: Smartwatches.

Ohhhhh.

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It never occurred to me that smartwatches are the “next big tech trend” because not only am I exposed to people wearing smartwatches all the time, nearly everyone in the office also has some kind of smartwatch. It’s almost as common as smartphones, so at most — to me, anyway — smartwatches are the tech trend of today.

But, if you consider the general public, this is still a novelty/upcoming piece of tech. You don’t really see smartwatches that often so it would make sense that it is still considered a tech trend of tomorrow.

When the smartwatch, as we know it today, first started out, many manufacturers and designers were uncertain about what it should look like. Many opted to put an ugly square on your wrist, which if you think about it, sort of makes sense because a smartwatch was essentially a smaller smartphone that fits on your wrist.

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I think they were, for the most part, wrong as people don’t want to wear smartphones on their wrist because that’s where watches go. One of the companies that got this formula right was Motorola (now just Moto) with the first Moto 360. It simply had a cool factor about it and I’m happy to say that the sequel keeps to this trend.

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Moto 360 2nd Generation

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If you’re looking for a classy watch, you can’t really go wrong with the standard Moto 360. It is a thing of beauty. The 316L stainless steel case, which comes in either 42mm or 46mm sizes, is well built and feels really nice in the hand. Unlike some smartwatches, the Moto 360 sits on your wrist like it belongs there, rather than looking like a sore protrusion.

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It is worth noting that if you pick up the 42mm Women’s edition (which goes for RM1,499) it comes with a tiny 16mm strap and that makes the watch look downright comical. It’s like tying the head of a lollipop to your wrist with a wet noodle. You’re better off with the 20mm strap, but you won’t get Rose Gold because that’s only for the Women’s version. Quite the pickle eh?

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Much like the original Moto 360, the 2nd Generation watch runs on Android Wear. While Android Wear isn’t where we’d like it to be right now, it has come a long way and is slowly maturing into a well-rounded watch operating system. It’s got a whole bunch of nifty features like Google Now, alarms, calendar reminders, as well as the regular notification pushing. It also lets you reply to WhatsApp messages via speech-to-text.

Moto 360 Sport

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The Sport is the Moto 360 for the fitness enthusiast. Unlike its elegant regular brother, the Sport does not have a sexy stainless steel body. Not one you can feel anyway, as most of the case is covered in the same rubberised material that makes up the smartwatch band. Yup, that means the entire strap piece is proprietary and what I guess you could call a uni-bodied strap. As a result, if your strap cracks or breaks, you’re going to be in some amount of trouble trying to get it fixed. A big thumbs-down there then.

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While the classic smartwatch comes in two sizes, the Sport only comes in a 45mm case, and while that looks fine on my hairy wrists, it may seem a little bulky on more delicate wrist sizes. The biggest difference — besides the rubber strap — is the fact that it has a new “AnyLight” hybrid display that, in short, improves sunlight visibility. Does it work? Well, the short answer is yes, it does let you view it even under direct sunlight. One other thing that might turn fitness nuts onto this device is the fact that it has GPS connectivity.

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It’s constructed in true Moto 360 fashion, with a premium build and feel though there are a few annoying niggles. One of which is the fact that the rubber strap picks up all manner of dust.

Anything that is small and speck-like just finds its way onto the strap and in your desperate (but futile) effort to get it off, more dust will settle on other parts of the strap. That’s a nightmare. Another is that little cutout for the microphone at the side of the watch. It feels so half-arsed, like they wrapped the device up in that hideous rubber condom before realising “Oops we forgot to make a hole for the mic. Let’s just cut one out”.

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A class act

That aside, the rest of the watch is a class act. Both the Sport and the regular versions of the Moto 360 are fantastic smartwatches to have on your wrist. They just feel right, and that isn’t always easy to find in a smartwatch. Functionality remains to be seen, but with the time I’ve spent on Android Wear, it is quite fun though not entirely practical, though that’s not the Moto 360’s fault. But, that’s a story for another time.

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In all honesty, I can’t say that this — with prices starting at RM1,399 — is the best smartwatch money can buy. I can’t even say that this is the best round smartwatch money can buy because it technically isn’t even round with that dastardly flat tire that many seem to hate.

But, to me, that gives the watch character and for something that you’re going to wear every single day, you’d want it to have character. Let me put it this way: In a world of generic square smartwatches trying to look smart and round smartwatches trying to look like regular watches, what’s the easiest way for someone to tell that you have a Moto 360?

That flat tire. And that makes it special, it makes it unique.