I’m not much of a watch wearer. In fact, I’m squarely in the “My phone tells me the time, why do I need something else?” camp. For me, a watch nowadays needs to be far more practical. If I don’t have my phone with me (or its in my desk,) it’d be nice for my watch to tell me when I’ve got an email coming in, or allow me to access music or tell me if I’ve got Facebook or app notifications. Sounds a bit strange, but as a sucker for 21st Century technology, I know what we’re capable of doing nowadays, and I don’t want my watch to just tell me the time anymore. How much would I be willing to pay for one of these devices? Debatable, but since it’d be a “nice to have,” I can’t say I’d be looking over $200.
Fortunately, the Cookoo 2 Smartwatch (Linked in Black – See bottom of the review for all colours and band choices) meets all of these requirements. It’s got the ability to do all these things and more, all in the size and weight of a regular watch. This is the second generation of the original Cookoo smartwatch, which my fellow blogger Brad Moon reviewed back in April. Just months later, and a new and improved edition is out, and it’s jam packed with even more goodies and features.
There are 2 parts to the watch once you take it out of its little housing (literally the shape of a little house meant to mimic a cuckoo clock) – You have to pair it with your iOS or Android device first via Bluetooth, and then download the “Connected Watch” app online. For iOS users, you must have iOS 7 or later. I’d actually recommend for the sake of ease that you download and open the app first, as once you’ve paired the device, the app will automatically find it.
Once connected, your Cookoo plays to the role of Robin to your phone’s Batman. In other words, you have a pretty worthy sidekick of your phone. Among the features you’ll now enjoy are:
Call Display: One of the major improvements over the first Cookoo watch is the fact that your phone now has a call display
option. Previously, you were beeped that there was an incoming call, but nothing else. Now you can choose to ignore, er, I mean, answer your calls in style.
Email and text alerts: Configure your Cookoo with your phone (steps are included in the manual) and you’ll get alerts every time you receive new emails right on your watch. The same goes for new text messages. This is an improved feature over the Cookoo first gen, where this was labeled a “Coming soon” feature.
Social Alerts: Your Cookoo can also alert you to new interactions on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Remote camera: Perhaps one of the neatest features of the phone – You’ll be able to activate your phone’s camera from your watch if you want to take a group photo, and nobody’s around to take a photo of all of you.
Interesting battery in two ways: Despite being a smartwatch, the Cookoo doesn’t require an external power source, and is powered directly from a standard watch battery, which will give it around 6 months of continuous juice on average. It also has the ability to communicate with your Smartphone to tell you when the phone itself has low battery and needs to be charged.
Water resistance: Just like the first Cookoo, this one is fitted with additional rubber gasket protection, and a fairly seamless glass fixture to allow water resistance of up to 10 ATM (which amounts to approximately 90m and the weight of that much water pressure.) This too is an improvement over the first watch, which only achieved 5 ATM resistance. In fact, when the first gen watch was originally presented to Kickstarter backers, it was only recommended for 3 ATM.
My favourite feature is one that doesn’t even have to do with the watch itself, yet is definitely a huge selling point for it. I’d wager that at least once every couple of days, I put my phone down somewhere and have no idea where I last put it. I’m getting better at tracing back my steps now, but the Cookoo can take the mystery out of it for me, able to audibly page my phone at a moment’s notice. This feature works both ways, as most things have on this phone so far. If you’ve misplaced your watch, you can page it from the app and ping it until you find it. As an aside, I do also like the fact that the watch isn’t completely reliant on digital features. The fact that there’s an analog face that overlays on the screen is fantastc.
The watch band was something I wasn’t a big fan of with this review unit, however, it’s only because I’ve never been a fan of cloth straps even though I’ve always found them to last longer. The Cookoo 2 comes in a handful of varieties and straps, including in soft silicone (“sporty chic”) straps which I rather prefer. The face of the watch itself is pretty big because of all of the features it needs to display, so you may have a bit of a feeling out process if you’re used to wearing smaller watch faces.
Besides the strap, the glass on the watch didn’t really gain a lot of favour with me either. It’s very susceptible to streaking and everything basically sticks to it. You’ll probably find yourself cleaning the glass a few times a day. However, you can probably chalk this up to the composition. It’s a high transparency scratch proof glass, which is fairly reminiscent of today’s smartphones. Unfortunately, you can’t really just buy a screen protector for something like this, so you’ll have to live with the idea of wiping it down a few times a day.
Whenever I think about today’s technology and what exists out there, my “ease of use” gauge is always which technologically challenged member of my family would use the device, and whether they COULD without calling me for help. Unfortunately, the Cookoo probably won’t be your mom or dad’s smartwatch. While it paired very easily, and setting up the app was a breeze, I found a lot of difficult with some of the basic facets. For example, despite my tinkering for hours (and the fact that it wasn’t in the manual,) I couldn’t get the watch off of French settings (since my colleague Benoit Gagnon reviewed it for Branche-Toi first,) even after I tried to hard reset it. That was really the only problem I had. I managed to figure everything out (including silent mode, and swapping through options) pretty easily. There’s still a little ways to go to perfect that idea of a simplistic smartwatch, and perhaps it’s a pipe dream in the short term. The Cookoo continues to improve, and perhaps the third generation will be something I pick up my dad (who does wear watches) to partner with his newly acquired android phone.
I’ll fully admit that while I consider the Cookoo 2 is a great piece of hardware, and I think watch wearers will love it, it’s not enough to convince me to revert back to my 1992-self who couldn’t go to elementary school without his beloved Timex Indiglo watch. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, and fairly robust smartwatch, the second generation of the Cookoo just may be the watch for you.
The Cookoo 2 Smartwatch is now available at Best Buy and online at BestBuy.ca in the following colours:
Sporty Chic Band