Talking tech since 2003

Yesterday’s keynote at Google I/O finally gave tech fans some real details about the first devices running Android Wear, a smartwatch-optimized version of the Android operating system. The G Watch from LG and the Gear Live from Samsung are available for pre-order right now, and will ship on July 7, the same day they’ll find their ways to retail store shelves. But now that Google’s lifted the curtain, should you buy either one of these smartwatches?

Gear_Live_Wine_Red_3-1024x682First, let’s take a look at the specs, which are nearly identical between the two devices. Both have a 1.2 GHz CPU, 512 MB of RAM, and 4 GB of internal storage. The only other difference between them under the chassis is in the juice: Gear Live has a 300 mAh battery, while the G Watch’s battery is 400 mAh. On the flipside, the Gear Live sports a built-in heart rate monitor, while the G Watch doesn’t.

It’s on the exterior where things start to get a little interesting. The Gear Live has a 1.63-inch AMOLED display, while the G Watch’s IPS screen is two-tenths-of-an-inch larger. It remains to be seen what differences such a small disparity might create between the two, but since these are the first two devices to run a brand new operating system on such a small-sized platform, it could be that every tenth-of-an-inch counts.

Aesthetically, the G Watch and the Gear Live are more similar than different, both offering a rectangular shape. Just about every other smartwatch on the market right now shares this design, but the Gear Live seems to have some DNA in common with other Gear devices from Samsung. It looks a little sleeker than the G Watch, but only barely. Either way, both smartwatches seem to look like you’re strapping tiny smartphones to your wrist.

The only other big difference between the two devices is in price. The Gear Live costs $199, while the G Watch is only slightly more expensive at $229. For the extra $30, you get a longer lasting battery in the G Watch.

So with all that information, are either worth buying right now? On their merits alone – and based on the Android Wear demonstration Google provided at I/O yesterday – I’d say definitely. If you’ve been interested in all the benefits a smartwatch can offer and you’ve got a smartphone running Android 4.3 or later, then these devices seem like they might be winners right out of the gate.

g-watch-specs3But – and this is a big “but” – we still don’t have all the details on Motorola’s Moto 360. That device is scheduled for “later this summer,” but we don’t have specs or pricing for it. From what we can tell based on testimonials from tech writers who tried it out at I/O yesterday, it seems to function just about as well as the G Watch and the Gear Live, but with a much more pleasing form factor.

Chances seem good that it’ll have the same specs as the G Watch and Gear Live – if not better specs. It’ll also be the first and so far only smartwatch with a round face. It may not seem like too important a detail, but the Moto 360’s design has the tech world buzzing. Fashion is one of the most important aspects of success in wearables. If your device makes the user look stupid, no one will want it. The Moto 360 is the best-looking smartwatch yet, and it’s worth waiting for.

That’s why I think it’s not a bad idea to wait just a little bit longer before going for an Android Wear device. The Gear Live and G Watch both seem like great devices with smart, affordable pricing. But if the Moto 360 can compete in terms of price and function, you may prefer to wait for all your options to become available.

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