Cookoo smart watch review

Timeless time-piece, or witless wrist watch?

February 2, 2013
Cookoo smart watch review
Overall score48%
6 Design and build quality
6 Features
4 Comfort
4 Functionality

At its core, a watch has one basic function – to tell time – but there has always been more to it than that.

A watch is an extention of someone’s personality, a fashion icon and often a vital part of a lifestyle.

People who use them swear they feel naked without them – and people who don’t use them, can at the very least still appreciate their aesthetic styling.

Or maybe a watch is a watch, and you just want something that will look cool and do cool things to show your friends.

If you’re not too bothered by fashion statements and practicality – then maybe the Cookoo smart watch is exactly what you need. If you can get it to work consistently.

Cookoo Smartwatch quick look

  • Some cool features
  • Big and bulky
  • Mostly impractical
  • Connection issues
  • R1,499.00

Design and build quality

This first thing you’ll notice about the Cookoo watch is that it’s big – and it’s heavy.

It makes sense that fitting in backlighting, buttons, an LCD display and all the mechanisations of an analogue watch would take up some space, but when you imagine a future of connected gadgets, you’d expect things to get slimmer, lighter and more elegant.

Of course, this view boils down to preference. A lot of people like a big, bulky watch that sits prominently on their wrist – others don’t.

The problem here is choice – as in, there isn’t really any.

While the Cookoo is available in various colour styles, the watch is only available in one general build.

Cookoo watch range

Cookoo watch range

For the more fashion-conscious among you, this may prove to be a massive con when you weigh up your decision. The watch isn’t styled to match typical business apparel, and won’t fit comfortably under a long-sleeve dress shirt (tried and tested).

I did a quick survey asking around 5 businessmen if they would ever wear the watch based in its looks, and all of them said no.

On the other hand, friends and younger professionals in my social circle (aged 18 – 28) seemed rather keen on the idea.

Simply put, you can’t fault the build quality of the Cookoo; the watch itself feels like a solid, sturdy product, and it doesn’t feel cheaply made – but different people will love or hate it.

Here are the full specifications:

  • Display Type: Analog for the clock. Digital for Connected Display.
  • Watch Movement: Japanese analog movement
  • Watch Material: Plastic casing, aluminium bezel, anti-scratch mineral glass with soft silicon band
  • Case Diameter: 44mm
  • Case Thickness: 16.3mm
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0, Bluetooth Smart, Bluetooth Low Energy
  • Water Resistant: 5 ATM
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Color: Blue, Pink, Silver, Black and White
Cookoo specs

Cookoo dimensions

Features

When it comes to gadgetry of this kind, the most important part is knowing what it can do.

Pairing up the Cookoo watch with the Cookoo app on your smartphone will allow the time-piece you to receive “beep” notifications for the following:

  • Incoming calls;
  • Missed calls;
  • Facebook messages and posts;
  • Calendar reminders;
  • When your device is out of range;
  • Low battery on iPhone or iPad;
  • Alarm and Timer alert.

The watch features 4 function buttons with various effects:

  • The Connect button connects your watch to your phone.
  • The Mode button lets you put the watch in silent or alert mode.
  • The Display button lights up the back display so you can see the notifications in dark areas.
  • The Command button can be customized to do various things, such as check in on Facebook; tag your current location on Facebook; take a picture; or control music (Play, Pause, Skip).

You can select up to 3 different command actions in the app, which are assigned according to how long you hold the button in for (short push, holding it in for a couple of seconds or holding it in for a long time).

The watch uses Bluetooth 4.0 LE wireless technology and is compatible with the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad mini, iPad (4th & 3rd generation), iPod touch (5th generation) on either iOS 6 or iOS 5.

There are plans for Android compatibility in the future, and the list of applications is also set to grow as the watch makers release the API for further development. Though with only 6 notification symbols, one wonders how much more developers can do.

Cookoo watch range

Cookoo watch range

Comfort

While the Cookoo is built solidly, wearing it day-to-day is a different story.

As mentioned, it’s big and it’s heavy, and I often found myself taking it off during work hours, while driving, while eating – or any other activity that didn’t require me to be standing still.

The watch makers boast that the Cookoo is great for taking with to gym or even when you go swimming (with the watch being water resistant to 5 atmospheres of pressure).

While the added weight will certainly help with building muscle faster, I would say that using the watch at the gym probably isn’t a great idea.

For one, the wrist band is made from soft silicon which, when mixed with perspiration coming from your skin during a workout, leads to massive irritation and itching.

This is also true if you happen to be wearing the watch during, say, a heatwave in Johannesburg. Or any time at all. To be frank, the material lends itself to perspiration.

As for swimming with it – that’s not really a practical notion, unless you worry about Facebook notifications while you’re doing laps in the pool or something.

Overall, I found the watch to be simply too heavy and bulky for every-day use, though, again, that is entirely a personal preference.

Cookoo watch

Not pictured: irritated skin

Functionality

When we received the Cookoo watch, the gadget had limited functionality. Half-way through the review, the watch’s iOS app was updated, and new features were added.

It surprised me that a watch branded with a bird would opt not to have Twitter integration – but then I realised that if the watch beeped every time I got a new Tweet, it would be beeping all day.

The Facebook integration, in contrast, is pretty vast. Why you need to have your watch connected to Facebook is another discussion altogether.

To assign the various functions to the watch’s buttons, you have to venture into the Cookoo app on your smarthpone – which begs the question: if you’re using your phone to do all this, why not just do these updates while you’re there?

The remote control of your phone – be it the camera or music player – is handy when you want to take a photo of yourself (but make it look like someone else took it – ie, you have friends), or if you’re listening to music and your phone is just out of reach to change tracks (lazy).

If you happen to misplace your phone, the phone-finding alert should help you track it down, even if it’s on silent.

That is, of course, if you can keep the phone and watch connected.

Because the phone and watch connect via Bluetooth, the watch also lets you know when you and your phone are too far away or gets disconnected – this is done by making your phone “cookoo”. This happened a lot.

I tried to test the Bluetooth range a number of times and simply couldn’t gauge a set distance where the phone disconnects.

Sometimes the watch would disconnect from my iPhone when I jumped up to go to the bathroom – and sometimes it would disconnect when I had the two devices right next to each other. Sometimes it wouldn’t connect at all.

Reconnecting is basically guess work. You can reconnect from the watch or from the app – and whether you’re successful or not depends entirely on how much time care to dedicate to the activity.

Cookoo self pic

Now it’s easier to pretend you have friends

Conclusion

The Cookoo watch isn’t a bad gadget – just unrefined. A lot of folks will love its “robust” design – but many will sneer at its lack of elegance.

Technophiles will moisten at the prospect of having a watch that communicates with their iPhone (and will undoubtedly make a show of using the features at any given opportunity) – but ultimately, the connection issues trump any technological glee it offers.

The problem also comes in finding the right type of user. Heavy social network users will already be glued to their phones, making the watch’s features obsolete – while day-to-day users will struggle to find a reason to have a watch that does more than tell the time.

When it boils down to it, I found the watch’s most useful quality in day-to-day activity is telling me what time it is; all of the features it offers – with the exception of the remote camera and phone-finding capabilities – are more practically executed from the phone, itself.

It’s a great pity, because the Cookoo watch – as a brand and a gadget – does have a lot of potential.

For the price (R1,499), in a market that’s likely to expand as gadgets get more inter-connected, you might do well to hold onto your money and see what else comes your way.

You can check out more and purchase the Cookoo watch from http://cookoowatch.co.za/

Tags: Cookoo, Headline, iOS, iphone, Review, smart gadget, smart watch

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