Hands on: Matrix PowerWatch

Your body heat powers this smartwatch

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

Charging up your smartwatch with your own body heat sounds too good to be true. The good news? It isn't. Whether this is the best smartwatch for you right now though is a very different matter.

For

  • Innovative charging tech
  • Temperature gauge

Against

  • Limited software
  • Bulky design

Editors note: We previously published this review under the title Matrix PowerWatch X, but after a mix up we've now corrected it to be called the Matrix PowerWatch.

The Matrix PowerWatch isn’t a gorgeous looking device when you first spot it on someone's wrist, but it can do something incredible.

When you first unpackage the PowerWatch, you’ll realize it doesn’t come with a charger and that's not a mistake - it's because the smartwatch is powered by your body heat. That's it, just your temperature.

This isn't a case of plugging it in and then getting a few extra hours of power from your body heat, it’s only running off your body and that's not something you'll find on your average smartwatch.

Matrix PowerWatch price and release date

You can buy the PowerWatch X now from Matrix’s official website for $199. If you live in the US shipping will be calculated alongside it as well, but we don't know the exact prices so it may cost you a touch more.

If you live in either the UK or Australia you’ll find the watch for around £145 / AU$250, but that’s subject to change as it’s calculated according to the exchange rate for the country you’re living in.

You’ll also need to spend more on shipping, with it costing upwards of $30 (around £21/AU$38) to get it shipped outside of the US.

Design and display

The PowerWatch isn’t the most attractive looking watch on the market, but it has a tough reinforced bezel that ensures it won’t easily get scratched up or beaten about if you live a particularly active lifestyle.

It’s thick and heavy, so if you have smaller wrists you may want to avoid this, but if that's your style you have the choice of either a black or silver bezel color.

For the purpose of this review we've been using the silver version and we've found it has received a vast array of reactions from people who have seen us wearing it.

The heftier design means it benefits from water resistance up to depths of 50 meters, which is a big deal if you’re planning to wear this while out in open water or even just into the shower.

To interact with it you'll find two buttons at the 2 and 5 positions with a rotable crown in the middle for moving through the menus on the watch. This doesn't have a touchscreen display.

We've also been provided with a material strap (we don't currently know what material it is though) which isn't particularly comfortable when you're getting sweaty.

Features

Obviously the biggest feature here is how you can charge the PowerWatch. Simply wear it and the heat from your arm will then charge up the watch as you use it. 

It uses a proprietary thermoelectric energy converter on the back of the watch which is smart enough to use your body heat to power it, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the rear of the watch.

It’s flatter than if there was a heart rate tracker there and that’s a big deal. It also tells you the heat of your skin as well as of the actual case itself, but we’ve struggled to find a use for these stats. 

There are fitness features included here, but it’s mostly a step counter, stopwatch and a running mode. We’ve taken the PowerWatch for two runs and on the first it just stopped recording half way around. 

The second it provided some okay stats, but not anything that’s particularly insightful, as the watch lacks a heart rate tracker and GPS. It can tell you the distance you’ve traveled each day and also monitor your sleep, but this isn’t a fitness powerhouse watch.

Breaking down the data from our run wasn’t possible in the app, so this isn’t a particularly mature platform yet and will probably disappoint you if you're planning to use this for a lot of exercise.

Apart from fitness, there don't seem to be many other interesting features here but we'll break down anything else this watch can do during our full review.

Early verdict

The PowerWatch is doing something spectacular by not including a charger in the box and allowing you to use your own body heat to power up your watch.

Right now though, it doesn’t seem like there’s much more to this watch and the lack of notifications directly to your wrist without syncing your phone and limited fitness features doesn’t bode well for this as a full product.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.