December 12, 2014
Aside from the – usually valid – complaints that many smart watches look simply like a miniature slab with a watch strap attached, there is another major drawback that the current crop of smart watches has had， and that is battery life – or the lack thereof. The one exception to this has been Pebble, with the power-sipping e-ink display that it utilizes. While it does save battery life, it hardly has the flashy looks that we are expecting now from the Apple Watch and Android Wear. The Geak II looks to straddle that divide.
Now, if you have not heard of the original Geak watch (since what we are looking here is in fact the second version), you are not alone. Created by Shanda, the Geak has been pretty popular within its home country of China. With the Geak II, they are looking to stretch out into the international market, with an APAC-specific Kickstarter-type campaign over on Pozible.
So, why does this particular watch matter? It is because of the promised battery life which is 3-4 days with moderate usage. “Big deal,” you may say, but once we consider that most presently available Android Wear watches offer (often less than) a day of “power reserve,” and that the watch packs a 320×320 pixel, color LCD display, that 3-4 day promise sounds a lot better. How did they manage to do that? Well, along with the color LCD, they also managed to slip in an e-Ink display, which I imagine greatly contributes to the ability to conserve battery. I was tempted to think that – when the LCD was in use – this was another Android Wear piece of kit.
As it turns out, this is not the case. As Google Now is blocked in China (and Now is a major component of Android Wear), Shanda instead went with a custom-skinned version of Android 4.3, complete with their own app store. Sure, this may not exactly bode well for long-term stability in the platform, but it is a pretty interesting proposition. As a watch guy, I appreciate that the Geak II actually looks like a regular watch.
This comes courtesy of the cushion-style case, with chrono-style pushers flanking the crown, which will be used for various inputs, as well as switching which screen is being used for the display. Depending on the watch face you choose to display, it can make for a pretty interesting watch (with that style case, I would end up trying to mimic a Magrette dial eventually). Of course, it also packs the requisite smarts, including fitness and heart rate tracking, Bluetooth, and WiFi, as well as an air quality tracker.
Last, but certainly not least, the Geak II incorporates a new material (or at least a new name) for the crystal. It is made of something called Dragontail glass, which is supposed to be scratch- and fingerprint-resistant – definitely a good thing for a watch face. While you might feel weird about going for a watch from a relatively unknown company, and one that is not running Android Wear, there is definitely something rather interesting about this watch. In much the same way the LG G Watch R (article here) made the leap over to “real” watch styling, the Geak II gives that same classic look. As to the OS, with Android being as flexible as it is, I could see someone trying to get Wear running on it. Even without Wear, if you are thinking about a smartwatch, that extended battery life has got to be appealing – although we would need to put it to the test in a review to see how closely it lives up to those promises.
Pricing for the Geak II should come in around $409. Of course, this is crowd-funding, which means the project has reduced pricing as an incentive to get backers to sign up. The campaign ends on December 11, with delivery anticipated for sometime in January of 2015. While I am still not quite convinced that a smart watch is for me, I am interested to hear from you if this is a project you end up backing – and especially once you have it on your wrist. igeak.com