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Acer Leap Ware hands-on review: Acer’s new wearable brings style to a smartwatch, with a good price to match

The Acer Leap Ware has style and a great battery life, but is there more to it?

The Acer Leap Ware is the company’s first smartwatch that’s been designed with the fashion-conscious in mind. It’s got a circular display, a Corning Gorilla Glass SR+ screen, and sensors that can monitor your heart rate and how hard you’re training. It’s set to cost €139 and will launch in Q3 this year.

Acer Leap Ware hands-on review: Tl;dr

Acer has joined the smartwatch race – properly this time (the previous effort was lukewarm at best). As well as looking good, the new device boasts five days of battery, has a heart rate and UV sensor, and will measure your activity to help you adjust your effort levels to get the most from working out while wearing the watch.

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Acer Leap Ware hands-on review

I got to try out the new smartwatch on a rooftop at Acer’s Global Press Conference in New York City. My initial impression of the device is mostly positive. It doesn’t have the best screen in the world and it may not be as responsive as I’d like, but it has the potential to be useful, and cheapish, as a smartwatch.

Let’s start with what I’m most impressed with: the fitness monitor. The Leap Ware uses a MediaTek MT2523 chipset and MT2511 bio-sensing chip to calculate how hard you’re training. And while this is relatively easy to do from a technological perspective – you just need a heart rate monitor, the wearer’s age and a simple calculation – not all smartwatches provide this feature. That’s madness because, if you’re using your smartwatch to train, knowing if you’re in the training zone or not is probably the most vital feature of all.

More good news: Acer claims the watch has a five-day battery life. How is the battery performance so good? It’s all to do with its screen. The Leap has an E Ink display (similar to ones you’d find on an e-reader). E Ink displays are great for increasing the battery life of a device and they can also work in harshly bright scenarios. However, they aren’t pretty and don’t offer much else. This display is no exception.

As I mentioned, I tested the Leap on a rooftop in NYC with direct sunlight hitting the watch face. The screen didn’t respond as well as your iPhone or high-end Android would, but it was still useable and you could see what you’re doing well enough.

The biggest disappointment for the Leap is its performance. Swiping around the Android Wear screen was a pretty laggy affair. That said, when you did get to the screen you wanted, the pace picked up a bit. Checking your heart rate or the current UV level, for example, is surprisingly speedy by comparison.

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Where the device really excels is its design. Being pretty isn’t something you’d usually associate with Acer. Geeky, yes. Cool, no. Just look at their previous attempt at a wearable – yuk. The Leap Ware is perfectly acceptable, though. A nice circular design and a choice of a sporty rubber, or more formal leather strap, means you’d happily wear this on your wrist.

There’s a final feature you should know about: the Leap Wear has a social aspect, too. Like all good, and bad, wearables, you can use this watch to measure how active you are against friends or colleagues who also own one. Whether anyone has actually used this feature in real life and been motivated is another matter entirely.

Acer Leap Ware: Verdict

I like the Acer Leap Wear. It has useful fitness features, is smartly priced and, most important of all, looks good. It’s not the killer device that’s going to wake the wearables market from its slumber, but for €139 it’s a solid effort from Acer.