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Wearable Tech

Asus debuts affordable and stylish ZenWatch 2, arrives in Europe in October

The new Android Wear-powered ZenWatch 2 will come in two sizes -- 49mm and 45mm -- and work on both iPhone and Android smartphones.

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We have seen an influx of premium smartwatches this summer from Apple, LG and Huawei, among others, but Asus believes a nice smartwatch doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg. The company's new ZenWatch 2 is both stylish and affordable. Asus on Wednesday announced at the IFA trade show in Berlin that the Android Wear-powered watch will arrive in October with a starting price of €149 (converted to £110 for the UK) in Europe.

The original ZenWatch retailed for $200 in the US. Prices and release information wasn't announced for other countries, however the European price converts to about $167 in the US and AU$240 in Australia.

The watch will be available in two sizes; 49mm and 45mm, and three colors; gold, silver and gunmetal. There's an option of either a rubber, leather or stainless steel band. Any traditional watch strap will also work as long as it's 22mm in size. If you're the type that wants to show off, there's also a Swarovski crystal-studded leather strap.

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Seamus Byrne/CNET

The watch is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, the same chip used in virtually every other Android Wear device, and is equipped with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. It carriers a water-resistant rating of IP67. That means you can wear in the shower and while doing the dishes, but swimming is out of the question.

The larger model sports a 1.63-inch rectangular AMOLED display with a 320x320-pixel resolution, while the smaller models features a 1.45-inch rectangular AMOLED display with a resolution of 280x280. Both of those work out to about 278 pixels per inch (ppi) and 273 ppi, respectively -- the higher the number of pixels, the sharper the screen looks.

I have the same complaint with the ZenWatch 2 that I had with the original. The bezel around the display is simply too big, and it takes away from an otherwise nice-looking watch. The ZenWatch 2 also doesn't do anything special (aside from a few preloaded apps Asus that are included). In fact, it lacks some of the standard features we have seen in other Android Wear watches. There's a six-axis sensor for tracking steps, but the ZenWatch is one of the few smartwatches that doesn't include an optical heart-rate sensor.

The larger of the two models has a 400mAh battery (compared to 300mAh on the smaller model), which is said to get up to two days of use on a single charge. It's unclear how long the battery on the smaller model lasts, although I suspect it would last around a day and a half. This is far off from the Pebble Time Steel, which can last almost a week. The ZenWatch 2 features an all-new magnetic charger that is said to provided 35 percent faster battery recharge times than the original. It should take only 36 minutes to charge the watch from zero to 50 percent capacity, which is pretty nice.

Catch all the electronics news from this week's show in Berlin.

Editors' note, September 2, 2015: The ZenWatch 2 was originally announced at the Computex trade show in June. This article has been updated with additional hardware and release information from the company's IFA announcement.

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