Moto 360 Review: Possibly 2014’s Best Smartwatch

MOTO 360

Motorola makes top-notch phones. But at Google I/O they announced the Moto 360 alongside Google’s Android Wear. It’s the world’s first circular smartwatch display, apart from a little notch a the bottom for display drivers and light sensors. It also has the best design of a smartwatch, with a full stainless steel body. I got to use one for a while; here’s what I think.

MOTO 360 2

Design

I’m a huge design freak, and I’m in love with this watch. Besides having a round screen, it’s on of the first wearables that actually looks good. I’ve never been one for gaudy gear, and my black version offers a welcome sleek, minimalist design. The all-metal design, with a Horween leather strap is gorgeous and really sharp. It definitely looks like a gadget as opposed to a watch, and I’m cool with that.

The screen is probably one of the most interesting features of the watch. It’s nearly bezel-less, and interestingly enough, it actually goes past the chamfered edge of the glass, creating a weird effect where you can see distorted pixelation through the edge. Something people won’t like is that the display isn’t totally round. It’s got a little sliver cut out of the bottom for light sensors and display drivers. I really didn’t notice, but you might care. Anyway, the round face creates a device that looks a lot like a real watch.

That being said, the 360 still feels like a gadget as opposed to a watch, but I don’t think as many people will be staring at your wrist as opposed to something like a G Watch or Gear Live. With a circular watch, you have a circular body. There’s a textured crown on one side with a brass ring around it. On the other side is a microphone, but no speaker. Personally, I’d like to have some form of internal audio.

On the bottom of the 360  is an awesome holographic backing with a grille containing a heart rate monitor and the inductive charging receiver. Interestingly enough, the watch never seemed to read my pulse. Believe me, I’ve tried, but it took forever.

MOTO 360 4

Hardware

The hardware isn’t super-new, but on a watch, specs don’t matter. Us nerds check below to see the specs, but Android Wear is super-smooth and responsive. It brings in notifications, and interactions are all fluid, with no lag.

Moto X
Price $249
SoC TI OMAP 3
Display 1.56-inch 320 x 290 IPS LCD
Battery 300 – 320 MaH
RAM 512 MB DDR3
Storage 4GB

MOTO 360 3

Software

I’ve already done a full review of Android Wear, so I won’t go super in-depth with this bad boy. It’s simple: a single press of the crown takes you to your watch face and notifications and a long press on the crown takes you to settings. But I will say, that after a while, the newness of this system wore off and it began to feel kind of limited. Notifications come in alright, and that’s fine, but I wouldn’t say navigation is fluid, and there aren’t that many apps and watch faces.

Luckily enough, Motorola decided to drop their Motorola Connect software into the mix. It allows you to tweak watch faces provided by Motorola with background and accent colors. My favorite is face is Basic. It’s super simple, and I think it matches the body perfectly.

Also worth noting is that the circular screen offers a far better experience than a square one. For example, the screen actually has more real estate than a square device because screen size is measured in diameter, not diagonal width. Diagonal is the longest measure of a device, but with a circular display, every way is the longest measure. The circular display also just feels fun, magical.

MOTO 360 5

Performance

Pure graphics and computing performance was great on the Moto 360, easily handling everything I threw at it. Google Now responds almost instantly (my only gripe being no audio feedback) and launching apps is fluid. There is one problem – the heart rate monitor. It doesn’t actually work, or at least, not quickly. It took about 6 minutes to get a reading out of my unit.

Finally, battery. For most people, this is usually the deal maker or breaker. The battery was definitely iffy on this device. For most people, you’ll be seeing your watch to sleep with about 10% each day. Battery seems to improve over time, though, so whatever you get is going to change. Charging is super fast, and super cool. Just drop it on the bundled Qi charger and see the super slick animation progress toward 100%.

Final Thoughts

Rating: 8 – Great


The Moto X seems to be alright, but battery has some issues. At first, you’ll be ending the day with about 10% capacity. After a week, it’ll increase to around 25%. The device seems to perform alright; scrolling, swiping, and general interactions are all fast and fluid.

The design is beautiful and slick. The chamfered circular glass, milled steel body, and leather band all make this watch a gorgeous timepeice. Although Android Wear isn’t there yet, this wearable definitely is. The only gripes that I have are the battery and yes, the OS. The little sliver from the display doesn’t bother me, but I can see why it would.

So if you want Android Wear now, the $249 Moto 360 is the best wearable around.

Moto X (2014) Review: They Nailed It

Last year Motorola released the Moto X, and it seemed they were back in the game. Motorola, the company that kickstarted the premium Android, then got lost in an endless swarm of gradual yearly DROID updates, had a pulse. The Moto X sure wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely a great start. And now the X has been updated, with a better processor, screen, and camera. It’s amazing.

Moto X 2

Design

This phone is straight up beautiful, with an ergonomic swooping backplate and a gorgeous screen. The front face is dominated by the 5.2 inch 1080p display. The side bezels are slim, but there are ample top and bottom bezels. Both the top and bottom have long, slim stereo speakers that rise about 2mm from the body and pump out awesome audio. On top, the phone also sports a 2 MP front facing camera and a variety of sensors. My particular model had a white face.

The backplate swoops more dramatically than ever before, probably to accommodate the enlarged screen. It’s super comfortable to hold, despite its size (I have small hands) and single-handed use was fine. My model had a bamboo back. Anyway, up top is the 13 MP camera surrounded by a dual LED flash, in case you need to add more photons to your shots. Below it is the signature Motorola dimple, now bolder than ever, surrounded  by a stainless steel ring.

Moto X 3

The phone’s ditched the all-plastic trim, instead going for an aluminum band, reminiscent of a certain iPhone. This was a wise choice; it makes the phone feel dense and high-quality. On top of the band is a headphone jack and to the right of it is a SIM tray. On the right of the band is the volume rocker, with a ridges power button atop. It’s now way easier to tell them apart. On the bottom of the band is a micro USB port.

Although I tested the white-and-bamboo version, the X has a slew of customization options. You can choose from 17 rubbers, 4 woods, 4 leathers, 2 front plate colors, 10 trims, and optional engraving. It’s one of the first phones you can truly make yours.

Moto X 4

Hardware

Well the stuff you can’t see – a 2.5GHz processor, for example, makes this phone truly great. The display uses AMOLED, but it’s now 1080p HD. With its Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 2 GB RAM, and 32 or 64 GB of storage, there’s nothing separating this phone from an iPhone 6 or GS5. And all these technologies mean that the X will handle anything you throw at it. Battery life’s alright, too, with a 2300 mAh ticker that easily lasts a day.

You can peek at the benchmarks, geeks, but everything boils down to the fact that this phone screams. Apps launch quickly, swiping between webpages is smooth, and the general experience is great. The point is, the Moto X has more than enough horsepower for anything you’ll do. Even so, battery was fine. In a video-loop test, the phone lasted 10 hours 30 minutes.

Quadrant 2.0 22,721
Vellamo 2.0 2,093
3DMark IS Unlimited 19,568
SunSpider 1.0.2 (ms) 787
GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan Offscreen (fps) 11.9
CF-Bench 39,018

Software

I can hear the hallelujah bells here: they are chanting stock Android. Motorola’s version is almost exactly the way Google intended it, except for a couple useful features, and… carrier bloatware. That’s right, my Verizon model had Caller Name ID, Mobile Hotspot, NFL Mobile, QuickOffice, Verizon Tones, Voicemail, Setup, My Verizon, and VZ Navigator. But all is not lost, because what you can’t uninstall, you can disable.

Moto X 5

Now back to the useful features. There’s Moto Display, Moto Actions, and Moto Voice. Moto Display shows your notifications at a glance on the dark lock screen. Swipe to get to the app. Moto Actions uses the IR sensors on the phone’s face to enable gesture control. Swipe your hand over the phone (Jedi style) to activate Moto Display. Then tap your notifications to get the information at-a-glance. But the star of the show is Moto Voice. With Google Now you can say “OK Google” to enable it, but with Moto Voice, you can customize it into anything you want. I went with a casual “Hey Moto X”, and it worked flawlessly.

Moto X 8

Camera

Well, the first X’s camera defintiely wasn’t amazing. But this year, it’s 13 MP, up from 10. In good conditions, the camera will deliver vibrant colors and plenty of detail, but change the conditions, and autofocus becomes painfully slow. It’s really frustrating just waiting for the phone to snap into focus.

The Bottom Line

The Moto X is a gorgeous phone. It combines the signature Motorola curve and dimple, now bolder than ever, with a premium design and a great screen. It feels dense and premium, and it really is a flagship, with a 2.5zGHz CPU and tons of memory. It has gestures and software features that are actually useful. The only shortcoming on the phone is the camera. It is slow to autofocus, and it sometimes comes out grainy. The phone is infinitely customizable, with plenty of great materials, but it’s gonna cost you – the phone goes up to $575. Ultimately, this is undeniably one of the best Android phones ever made.

Skate 3 Review test

Hello skaters, welcome to my first game review. Lets get skating. First off I would like to note how this is one of the best skating games I have ever played. Starting from when you create your player, you will notice lots of customization is easily available. Though most the clothes,shoes and boards are locked in the beginning you can unlock them by completing missions, which adds a cool little reward for completing the mission. If you are looking for something different in this game, then take a closer look at the differences in the boards. Unlike most skate games, the boards do not give you better stats they only give you a cooler design. This makes the game a lot more about skill. The only big issue is the amount of glitches in the game which can be a little bit annoying. All in all, I believe that Skate 3 is a great game. If you want to pick up this game for your self or just check it out go to www.ea.com/skate-3.  As for a game rating I will give it a big 4.5  Micky points and see you guys in the next post for some awesome cheat codes. 

*Comments

-good job, I like the organization. In the future, try to add more commas. 

Pass

My Review of the All-Star Basketball Game

When first period ended Monday, I wondered why the period ended after 38 minutes instead of the usual 50 minutes. However, if you know me, you knew I would have asked people, all of which didn’t know. So I hobbled along to 2nd period, awaiting what came next. Here’s what happened. At third period, someone told me about all-star basketball game that took up two hours of that day. First we started off on a long walk to the high school. Me and my friend Ryan sat in the stands of the gym just as some eight grader began lip-syncing the national anthem. I would’ve just thought the girl  was a really good singer. However, the crummy PA system was a dead giveaway. The PA stopped at like 2 second intervals, and when it was off, there was literally NO sound coming from her mouth. So I told Ryan and he said “You just noticed?” After that I watched the first five seconds, but realized I could regain the sleep I lost at Cimi, which I will tell you about in the next post. I hid under my jacket and was out like a light. The only thing I remember was going to the bathroom to go poo but a Language Arts teacher stopped me. When I got back, the girls were playing, and it was bo-ring. However I think many students were pleased.

I mean, they got to cut each class time  by 12 minutes, not to mention talk to their friends for 2 hours. Now that I think of it, I was going to say save the Basketball for after school, but I realized it was a nice break from class. In the future though, people who do not want to attend get barricaded in the library or something, so that they can do what they wish.

-Micky Munns

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Writing about the worst and best people, places, and things 

GATE: My Review

Hey guys, some of you might not know me, but I have known Micky for a long time. As some of you know, Parras has handed out GATE forms, and these are our choices:

Pathways to the Future: Using the program Naviance,  students will learn about secondary options.

Cardboard Arcade:  Mess around with cardboard and duct tape till it resembles something like an arcade game. (Trust me, I know from experience)

“Now You’re Speaking my Language!”:Learn about something no one cares about, why we use expressions and stuff.

Various Genres of Script Writing: Extra writing. In script form.

The only choice that looks the least bit interesting, is the cardboard arcade.  Unfortunately, I already did that as my elective, so no fun for me.  All of my friends, the ones that are in GATE, are in that class, and it would seem like I was taking the easy route by doing it again.   UGHHHHHHH, I don’t want to write scripts, learn about college, or learn about linguistics! Why can’t there be other cool choices, like “The Science Behind Paper Airplanes” or a coding class.  I remember back in 5th grade when we built kites shaped like tetrahedrons, and it was FUN! Why can’t we go back to that???

–Conor Kelly

So Called “Spirit” Assembely

January 31, 2:00, My Middle School-“Sit Down!” Is what the ASB Director yelled today at the Parras “Spirit” Assembly to the students during the event. Everyone was in a rush to get out of the vicinity of the Assembly because many students called it “A waste of my time.” And said “I’d rather be in class.” Why wasn’t this assembly as successful as many people expected? For a couple, sorry not a couple, lots of reasons.

The main reason some students didn’t enjoy this assembly was the lack of entertainment. Basically, the ASB director was kind of like why doesn’t the school watch ASB students and students who like the ASB do weird things. During 50 Minutes we watched people throwing bean bags into bowls on baseball helmets, and teachers spraying ASB favorites with whipped cream. That may, just may, sound like fun if you were actually in the assembly, but if you weren’t, you’d be sitting around the whole time watching them have “fun”.

Also, the lack of energy was a reason to the Assembly’s unsuccessfulness. Most students, including the 6th graders, knew what they were getting into when they saw the sloppily painted lettering on ads for the assembly: 50  minutes of being bored and being so squished they had  headaches. During the last “spirit” assembly, the 6th graders didn’t know what they were getting into so they cheered the loudest out of the school. This time they knew how boring these things were so they were just as “spirited” as the rest of the school.  Even a few of the ASB kids weren’t enjoying it!

Now for my take on the assembly. The assembly was one of the bad assemblies I’ve seen the ASB put on during my two years at this school.  It was boring, as usual, but the reason I didn’t enjoy it was the director. He was using his “naturally” loud voice, his excuse for yelling at kids, towards the  end of the assembly and when the bell rang, he didn’t  let us leave. Instead, he used his ASB and staff “helpers” to blockade the doors. Many students didn’t want to listen to him because he no longer had control of us, (after 2:50 means we are officially out of teacher control). He wanted to keep us longer, so we could get out in an “orderly fashion”. But people I was with didn’t  care so we all ran over the ASB Kids. It doesn’t sound real but it happened.

Please Leave a comment if there any suggestions about making the future assemblies more entertaining .

The Chrome Books (For 6th Grade!!!)

On Tuesday, every 6th Grader in Redondo Beach got an 11″ HP Chrome Book. Which, if you know enough about computers, you would know they are low-level Netbooks–useless without internet. I should not be jealous, because I have a MacBook Pro, but I have seen 6th Graders using them during things like P.E. or spirit assemblies!

I have polled several 6th, 7th, and 8th Graders on their opinions of the ChromeBooks. Here is what they said.

snapshot

 

snapshot (1)

Ryan Bohney: 8th Grade

ADMIN: Why do you think the 6th Graders got ChromeBooks?

RYAN: The 6th graders are new here, and when I was in 6th grade, I didn’t feel an especially warm welcome. They’re being nice to us for once.

ADMIN: Ok. What do you think they do with those laptops?

RYAN: Normally, they’d use them for school things, but a lot of 6th graders have gotten through blocks, and are playing games. I saw some playing Cut the Rope and another on Instagram. My sister can’t even get to hangouts, though.

ADMIN: Do you think it was a good idea to give 6th graders ChromeBooks?

RYAN: Not really, but I’m sort of influenced because I was supposed to recieve one for the pilot program when the board changed their minds.

ADMIN: One more thing. Anything you want to say to the 6th Graders who got ChromeBooks?

RYAN: Nothing. At. All.

Scotty: 6th Grade

ADMIN: Why do you think you got the ChromeBooks?

SCOTTY: Because we’re the pilot program.

ADMIN: What do you do with your ChromeBook?

SCOTTY: Homework and schoolwork.

ADMIN: What do you have to say to all the other people who are hatin’ on you guys?

SCOTTY: Suck it up.

Scotty’s Woman: 6th Grade

ADMIN: Why do you think you got the ChromeBooks?

S.W: Because, um, we’re in the uh, middle of school.

ADMIN: What do you do with your ChromeBook?

S.W: School and school-related stuff.

ADMIN: Anything to say to 7th and 8th graders?

S.W: You’ll get one next year.

And with mixed emotions, Parras tells us how they feel.