Motorola’s Android Wear-powered $249 Moto 360 smartwatch arrives

Moto 360 (image 001)

Having previewed it in March, handset maker Motorola today launched its Moto 360 smartwatch with wireless charging, a rounded face, optical heart rate monitor, “all-day battery” and other perks.

Starting at $249 and available through Motorola’s website, Google’s Play store and Best Buy, the device runs Google’s Android software for wearables dubbed Android Wear and features premium materials making the circular smartwatch feel “comfortable and familiar” on your wrist.

The device offers the choice between a black frame with black Horween leather or silver frame with gray Horween leather. A pair of titanium metal options will be made available later this Fall for $299.99, or $79.99 standalone ($29.99 for leather bands).

Motorola Moto 360 (Metal 001)

Featuring a 1.5-inch circular face, a built-in heart rate monitor and pedometer, wireless charging via an included wireless dock and other features, the Motorola smartwatch hopes to steal the limelight from the crop of other wearable devices from Samsung, LG and others.

The device pairs with any smartphone running Android 4.3 or higher.

Check out the promotional video below.

Early reviews by The Verge, The Wall Street Journal and other outlets are promising, but reviewers seem to be bringing into question Motorola’s “all-day battery” claim, with WSJ’s Joanna Stern writing that her unit had to be charged twice a day.

“Most days, after charging it overnight, I had to put it back on its wireless charging cradle by 4 p.m.,” she wrote.

And though the reviewer likes Google Now integration, she says that additional work on the software is needed to better manage notifications because the constant vibrating about new emails, tweets or Facebook friend requests are not only annoying, but taxing on the battery as well.

Motorola Moto 360 (smartwatch and smartphone)

The device felt oversized for Joanna’s thin wrist, looking almost “like I grabbed a clock off the wall and strapped it to my arm.” She also disliked the chopped-off screen bottom: Motorola argues it had to put the display driver and ambient light sensor in there.

Finally, the built-in Android Wear Fit tracker is “no match” for Jawbone or Fitbit’s fitness-tracking capabilities. A dearth of apps is also a problem, though Google said that apps from Nike and Adidas are on the way while acknowledging that the Android Wear platform is still “a work in progress”.

The smartwatch goes on sale in the United States at noon ET today.

Apple, of course, is expected to unveil a wearable device of its own at the media event next Tuesday.

[Motorola, Motorola Blog]