HOT Watch Now Shipping to Early Backers

HOT Watch Hands-On

After a year of development, the Kickstarter-funded HOT Watch is finally shipping to its early backers. We went hands-on with this Pebble competitor to see what advances had been made since our earlier encounters with the device last year.

The HOT Watch will come in four versions: the Curve, which costs $236 and has a curved metal design; the $179 plastic model; and the Edge and Classic, which have square faces trimmed in metal and will each cost $208.

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But it's not the face of the HOT Watch that distinguishes it from other smartwatches. The underside, where the clasp is located, has a large bulge that houses a speaker and microphone. This gives the HOT Watch a more Dick Tracy feel than any other smartwatch, as it allows you to make phone calls and talk to someone from your wrist. When I tried it out, the speaker was loud enough so that I could keep the watch a foot or so away from my face and still hear the other person clearly. I also like the fact that it works with Siri; considering it's compatible with Android and Windows Phones, I hope it works with Google Now and Cortana, too.

What also sets the HOT Watch apart from other smartwatches is gesture control; you can wave your hand to hang up calls, for instance. There are also gestures you need to trace on the screen to get to certain features; for example, drawing a "D" will open the phone menu, and drawing an "L" turns on the built-in LED flashlight. There's a lot of gestures to remember--it reminded me of the Graffiti shorthand on old Palm PDAs.

The HOT Watch is entering a soon-to-be crowded market, which includes the Pebble Steel, the Samsung Gear Live, the LG G Watch and the upcoming Moto 360. However, none have yet to capture the attention--or pocketbooks--of consumers, so the space is still relatively wide open.

Once HOT Watches have been delivered to all of the device's backers, the company plans to ship out pre-orders, which a representative said should be by the end of August. We're looking forward to fully testing the HOT Watch, so stay tuned for our full review.

Follow Michael A. Prospero @mikeprospero and on Google+.  Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.

About the author
Mike Prospero

Michael A. Prospero is the reviews editor at Laptop Mag and Tom’s Guide. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest kitchen gadget.

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