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Hands-on with the Asus ZenWatch: a seriously stylin' smartwatch

Asus’s ZenWatch is a welcome respite from the growing glut of smartwatches, because unlike so many of them, it's honestly a stylish piece of wristwear. Granted, it does have some drawbacks (it's still too large for small wrists), but its overall look and feel almost makes up for where it falls short.

Designed to look good

I was thoroughly impressed by the Asus ZenWatch. Its vibrant 1.63-inch screen is contained in a sleek body that almost perfectly curves around your wrist, and its caramel-colored leather band feels premium and soft to the touch. It looks more like a fashion watch than a device running Android, and thankfully it’s not just geared towards men. It is gender-neutral with swappable bands, so if you really don’t like the European look of its confusing traditional-yet-modern design, you can change it. 

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This is the watch on my wrist and I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable it was to wear.

I personally like the look of the watch, but its clashing aesthetics could be polarizing to some. The leather strap and old-school strap lugs have an air of retro sophistication, but the ZenWatch remains inescapably rectangular, and that could be a problem for Asus when circular Android Wear watches like the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R emerge. Also, the display is surrounded by a huge bezel that will perpetually classify it as a nerd's toy rather than a sophisticated watch for the everyman. 

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The one unstylish part of this watch: the garish Asus logo on the clasp.

The clasp is easy to open and close, but a bit of a struggle to adjust. Still, the watch is comfortable to wear, with a little wiggle room at every size. Until processors get smaller, however, the actual chassis that houses the smartwatch's internal bits will get in the way for those with smaller wrists. I still can’t see myself getting used to this watch, even if it is more stylish than the others.

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The watch without a wrist.

Unfortunately, the ZenWatch I wore was in Android Wear demo mode, so I was unable to actually try out the ZenUI that Asus announced it would bundle with its smartwatches. The software will include some interesting features, however, like Watch Unlock, which lets you unlock the device by touching its face, and Tap Tap, which is a double-tap action you can set to do a variety of things. There’s also Cover to Mute, Remote Camera, Presentation Control, and Find My Phone functions that Asus made special note of as marquee features in its presentation. 

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A quick glimpse at its back side.

We’ll find out later if those software features are worth the €200 (about $260 USD, though prices often vary by region) price tag when the device goes on sale, but if you’re looking for a smart Android Wear watch that's stylish too, this is too pretty not to gawk at.

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