Asus reveals the ZenWatch, a premium-styled Android Wear watch with a pedestrian price


After several weeks of teasing, Asus officially debuted its first entry into the burgeoning field of smartwatches on Tuesday at IFA Berlin. Dubbed the Asus ZenWatch, the new wrist wearable is loaded with Android Wear and, similar to other first generation Wear devices we've seen, it features a simply designed rectangular watch face.

But compared to devices such as the Samsung Gear Live or the LG G Watch, Asus has put a bit more effort into refining the watch's design. The ZenWatch combines a stainless steel case, nicely designed accents, a curved glass 2.5D front, and an Italian leather strap to more closely emulate the traditional watches you're used to. The watch also features more than 100 digital watch faces to choose from.

Asus was short on specs for the device during its presentation at IFA, but it did highlight many extra software features added to the basic Android Wear feature set. Some of these are a little gimmicky, but could also come in useful.

Similar to what Google Now already offers for Wear users, the ZenWatch has a feature called What's Next that can display upcoming calendar appointments, reminders, and weather forecasts.

asus zenwatch live Martyn Williams

Yep, the Asus ZenWatch runs Android Wear.

The ZenWatch also has a built-in feature called Tap Tap, which, as its name applies, activates with a double tap.

During Asus' ZenWatch demo on Wednesday, the company demonstrated how you could use Tap Tap as a "find my phone feature." Just double tap the watch and your phone starts ringing. It's not clear if Tap Tap can be programmed for other uses in addition to find my phone.

Asus has also added wellness tracking to the watch via a "9-axis sensor," allowing you to track your steps taken, calories burned, activity duration, heart rate, exercise intensity and relaxation level. All of that data integrates with the Asus ZenUI Wellness app.

asus zenwatch Florence Ion

The ZenWatch's leather strap helps make it feel high-end, despite the low price.

For group photo fans, the ZenWatch has a remote photo capture feature that uses your watch as a viewfinder for your smartphone's camera function. And if you ever get a phone call you don't want to take, you can dismiss the call by simply covering the ZenWatch with your hand.

While the extra features would make you think the ZenWatch would sell for a premium over the LG G Watch and Samsung's Gear Live, Asus is taking the more competitive route. A representative confirmed that the ZenWatch will sell for $200 in the U.S. Look for the wearable to launch in select markets in the third quarter—in other words, in the next month or so.

Thanks to IDG News Service's Martyn Williams for contributing to this report.

Updated on September 4 with a video report from IDG News Service.

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