Meta smartwatch hands-on: revamped design meets at-a-glance features

/ Updated: March 5, 2014 2:38 PM PST
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Now that the Pebble Steel and the Samsung Gear Fit have begun carving out a new landscape for higher-design wearables, maybe there's room for more. The new Meta smartwatch, seen here, is a complete design revamp from the first MetaWatch Strata Stealth we reviewed at CNET a year ago. Not only are there new apps and features, but the entire look is radically changed: former Vertu lead designer Frank Nuovo has been brought aboard the MetaWatch team to create a bold watch design. MetaWatch was already founded by former Fossil employees, so the mission statement seems clear: make a smartwatch that works well as a watch, too.

Sarah Tew/CNET

How bold? Well, judge for yourself. The wrist-strap hinges that split off both ends of the Meta's body aren't like anything out there. While it gives the Meta a pop-out look, the design has a practical end in mind: the Meta should curve to fit a wrist much more snugly than the average large-screened smartwatch. It felt good on my wrist, at least.

That's not my wrist. Sarah Tew/CNET

The new Meta watch is targeted for a May release, and full pricing and product details have yet to be unveiled. There could be a variety of prices, based on various designs and materials ranging from natural rubber bands to richer leather, and different metals on the watch itself. The Meta's handful of designs that I've seen all run far flashier than the more understated, retro Pebble Steel, which will either float your wearable boat or turn you off. The look has grown on me since I first saw these watches at CES a couple of months ago.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Meta watches will work on both iOS and Android, and promise a simplified Pebble-like feature set aimed at at-a-glance notifications, including fitting multiple feeds of information on a single screen. Weather, upcoming sports games, notifications, and even a pedometer will be onboard, but no touch screen or speakerphone.

I hope to see more soon, because if you like your smartwatches simple, MetaWatch might be on to something.

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