Puls review

This is not the smartwatch, or 'smart cuff,' you're looking for

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Our Verdict

The Puls needs a complete makeover to survive the wearable world.

For

  • Untethered
  • AneedA voice assistant works well
  • Sound is great
  • Calling works well

Against

  • Texting is awful
  • Display is too dim
  • Sorely lacking apps
  • Battery life is abysmal
  • Design needs work
  • Uncomfortable
  • Heats up

The Puls wearable was officially announced during Dreamforce 2014, and marks yet another step into the tech sphere by musician and tech enthusiast, Will.i.am. Engineered by his i.am+ company, the "smart cuff" took almost three years to complete. It's clearly a labor of love for the Black Eyed Peas band member.

The current, final cost for the i.amPULS device is $399 (about £258, AU$511). It was released for early adopters and developers last holiday season as part of the i.am+ company's Make it Great program, which, according to a rep, is "an ongoing effort to source valuable opinions and insights from fashion and tech influencers across the nation."

Like the Apple Watch, Moto 360 and even Pebble Steel, the Puls cuff is attempting to blend fashion with functionality, or as Will put it during his Dreamforce keynote, "fashionology."

Will i am Puls

Notice that it's called a smart cuff - or cuff, smartband, wrist device and wearable - but not a smartwatch. According to the i.am crowd, the Puls is not a smartwatch even though this is clearly where it lies on the gadget spectrum.

Whatever it's called, this wearable is the last thing you should be reaching to wrap around your wrist. Here's why you should wait for the next generation, or maybe even skip the Puls all together.

Display

The Puls's 1.7-inch PMOLED display is hardly anything to jump up and down about. It has the similar curved appeal of the Samsung Gear S but is a bit smaller by 0.3-inches though it looks slimmer because of the thick bezel.

The Puls also doesn't have the best brightness setting. When maxed out, the screen is still duller than the power saver mode on all other wearables.

Will i am Puls

There aren't any other display features that enhance the experience either. For example, you won't find an ambient light sensor hidden on the front.

It doesn't help that the glare from both natural and indoor lighting makes the screen difficult to see. I found myself constantly tilting the cuff's face in order to see notifications. Even when using it to make a call or access its features, the screen had to be angled.