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Hands on: Hot Watch Curve review

Finally, a smartwatch that makes calls Dick Tracy style

What is a hands on review?
Hot Watch Curve review
Hot Watch Curve review

Similarly, the Hot Watch's interface is straightforward and intuitive enough for you to start poking around without reading the manual. The wearable's screen displays one of four panels at a time, which you can either swipe to navigate through or tap on any of the roman numerals adorning the watch's top bezel. The first two slide the display between an analog and digital watch face.

Meanwhile, pressing on the third roman numeral will pop up the watch's multiple preloaded applications. By swiping up and down, you can scroll through various tools such as a step counter, weather app, a Google stocks counter, as well as a combination of all three stacked on top of each other.

The fourth tab is home to other applications you will make and download in the future. This particular Hot Watch I previewed only came with a simple game of Tic-Tac-Toe installed, but you should have access to more apps with the final unit.

Hot Watch Curve review

Aside from swiping side to side, you can also flick your finger across Hot Watch diagonally to access more features, like a music playback tool, talking to Siri though the watch or turning on the built-in flashlight – all of which work splendidly.

What's more, the wearable will also register shortcuts like a "D" to quickly access the watch's built-in dialer or "A" to jump into the apps menu. All the touchscreen shortcuts are very neat and useful. Plus the way they work seamlessly is a testament to the accuracy of the Hot Watch's touchscreen.

The only gripe I had with the UI layout is it seemed a little wasteful that two of the smartwatch's tabs were reserved for a digital and analog clock when one watch face would have sufficed. However, a PHTL representative explained more customizable panels are a new feature slated for a future Hot Watch update.

Hot Watch Curve review

A bit too early for prime time

All together, using the Hot Watch is a snappy experience when swiping across its various apps. What's even more amazing is the depth of customization and amount of settings you can tweak from the watch itself. While I got a chance to try out the watch's accompanying iPhone app (available for Android phones too), there was really no need to. I could easily change the watch's power saver modes, customize my notifications settings and more, all from the watch's touchscreen.

Sadly, while the Hot Watch's touchscreen worked perfectly, its gesture based commands did not function as promised. Normally, checking your wrist for a call notification, and then shaking it at chest level, will simply end the call. However, the gesture never registered with the smartwatch when I tried it. The same thing happened when I tried to end the call by waving good bye.

Hot Watch Curve review

The same PHTL rep attested that the gesture controls were working perfectly before our meeting. Supposedly, the Hot Watch Curve I wore for this hands on was final hardware shipped to Kickstarter backers, but it came running software that was a version behind. So, this could be just a glitch that will be smoothed over with an updated firmware.

As for battery life, the Hot Watch is rated to last for about 3 days with regular use and about a day if you're talking to it non-stop. You can also set the Hot Watch into a power saver mode that will extend operational time to 5 days, except at the cost of locking out features, like the pedometer.

Either way, that's still well short of the Pebble Smartwatch's week-long battery life. Luckily, the smartwatch will also purportedly recharge quickly in just 30 minutes.

Hot Watch Curve review

Early verdict

The Hot Watch Curve is clearly a work in progress. The missing gesture controls and iffy call features are knocks against the device, but we can't fault it too harshly since it was running with software that's a version behind.

There is also a list of features on the way with future patches, including a more customizable interface. Plus, the PHTL rep also said the Hot Watch has just made it to certification with Apple, which will enable the watch to send emails and SMS messages from an iOS device (functionality that we're told already works with Android phones).

For now, it's too early to call the Hot Watch a failure, despite some disappointing first impressions. Still, if the Hot Watch works as promised, it could be one of the most capable smartwatches around.

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.