"He Wears Black and Has a Beard"

Geek Toy: Metawatch (Analogue)

Toby Roworth

Mar 3, 2014


For a long time now I've wanted a new watch. But a gentleman needs a proper watch, not a £5 Casio, and the price of proper watches has been putting me off. Then, last week, I saw the perfect solution: Metawatch analogue
Half analogue watch, half smartwatch, the Metawatch combines the sophistication of an analogue watch with the benefits of a smart watch, thanks to its two built in 80x16 OLED screens and bluetooth connectivity. In essence, it connects to my phone and tells me when I have a text/email call etc.

Built around TI's MSP430 microcontroller, it's as much a smartwatch dev kit as it is a watch, being supplied with a charging programming clip to allow easy firmware upload. Although I haven't had the chance to try this yet, it's nice to know I've essentially bought a small MSP dev board, with built in accelerometer, bluetooth , screens, vibrator and spinning hands (software controllable), and I look forward to hacking it more.
From a practicality standpoint, the notifications are great. Metawatch community edition runs on the phone side and pipes over snippets when a text/email/call arrives. No more missed calls/texts because my phone's in my pocket, as it's much harder to miss you wrist vibrating. Over the last couple of days this has already proven useful on several occasions. The screens are a little hard to read in sunlight however, which makes it less useful when outside. It also sends updates when music tracks change, although this can be a little distracting.

The software is a little buggy, but I'm hoping this'll be fixed by updating to the latest firmware. if not, the software and firmware are both open source, so it might be time to get out the coding gloves.
The battery life is adequate, but little more. I'd feel uncomfortable if I left in the morning without having charged it overnight, but the battery meter suggests it could managed a few days, so that might be unfounded. The charging clip doesn't quite fit as well as I'd hope, needing a bit of a wiggle to start charging sometimes.

The watch looks fairly nice, although it's a little bulky. The action buttons are bigger than they need to be, which looks a little funky. The two screens fit in nicely to the watch, with the top one being dimmer than the bottom - I've yet to work out if this is by design or a fault.
The most enticing thing about this watch is the price. Although it lists at $200, TI recently discounted it to $49 to make way for the newer generation of digital-only models. This means it can be picked up on eBay for £35 plus shipping, which is a steal whether you look at it as a watch or dev board.