Vector, the smartwatch with a 30-day battery (hands-on)

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BASEL, Switzerland -- Vector, a new smartwatch brand from London, has entered the ever-expanding wearable arena, hoping to joust with Android Wear and the Apple Watch by offering 30 days of battery life, classic watch stylings and an easy-to-use interface.

Two main models will be available: the Luna, a round watch costing $349 (roughly £235 or AU$450), and the rectangular Meridian, costing $199 (£135 or AU$255). All models are waterproof to a depth of 50 metres and will go on sale this summer, globally, from Vector's own online store as well as "select local retailers".

Both the Luna and Meridian are evidently designed to mimic classic analogue watches, with their metal bodies and metal link, stitched leather or rubber straps. You can mix and match the straps to customise them as you see fit. I'm keen on the classic look of the watches and up close, they look well put together, and they're comfortable to wear, too.

The displays are all digital, but monochrome, rather than colour. Supposedly, this is to increase contrast and therefore readability under harsh sunlight -- something we'll be putting to the test as soon as possible. The monochrome display is also likely a factor in the claimed 30 days of battery life.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The watches have all the functions you'd expect from a fully fledged smartwatch. You'll find step, calorie and distance activity tracking and sleep tracking. It links to your smartphone (Android, iOS and even Windows Phones are supported) to provide incoming notifications, upcoming calendar appointments and let you browse news headlines -- pulled from RSS feeds you subscribe to in the app. You can customise the look of the watch face from the app, too.

The watch face isn't touch-enabled, so navigating around functions on the watch is instead done using three physical buttons on the side of the watch. In my brief hands-on time, this seemed fairly easy to do, although how much of a hassle this is to do in a hurry when you're walking through busy streets remains to be seen.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The watch faces are simple and easy to read. As part of CEO Joe Santana's mission to not have the watch intrude on your daily life, incoming notifications aren't immediately displayed, instead appearing simply as a thick line around the watch face. If you do want to read the notification, a flick of the wrist -- performed within 5 seconds of the vibration arriving -- will display the message.

Third-party app developers will also be allowed to put their own software on the watch. Nest is already a partner, and I was shown a demo of the watch being able to control a Nest thermostat from the watch face.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Outlook

It's either extremely brave or extremely foolish for an unknown brand to go head-to-head with Apple and Google, but Vector's promised 30-day battery life alone is enough to make this smartwatch extremely appealing. Its wide range of smart functions and attractive metal design don't do it any harm either.

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  • Product type Watch