There are many ways to take on the Apple Watch, and Acer's approach is simple: provide as much functionality as possible for the price. The Taiwanese company today (April 23) announced two new versions of its Leap smart bands that will not only track your fitness and pulse, but also measure how stressed out you are.
The Liquid Leap Fit and the higher end Liquid Leap Curve are expected to arrive in the U.S. by Q3 2015. The Fit model is expected to retail for less than $100, while the Curve is likely to cost more than that.
President of Acer's Smartphone Business Group ST Liew showed off the new bands at Acer's global launch event today, and explained that the device will come with two gold-plated sensors on the underside to measure your galvanic skin response. That detects your skin's ability to conduct electricity, and varies with the state of your sweat glands.
In addition, the Liquid Leap bands' heart rate sensors will check your pulse multiple times throughout the day, performing up to 150 scans, said Liew. The tracked data will be sent to a Leap Manager App and presented in a report card called Acer Age. This analyzes your stress levels, pulse and other fitness metrics and presents your data in a spider Web-like diagram to show you how you're doing. It's not very clear yet how to tell if you're doing well, but Liew said this will help you make better life decisions to help minimize stress.
I got a chance to touch a rogue Liquid Leap band for a fleeting moment, as it was left on stage before being taken away. The other Liquid Leap bands were kept under glass displays.
During my brief moment with it, the watch face felt solid and the band was soft and comfortable. Although I wasn't able to test out the heart rate and galvanic skin response sensors, the promise of these features is appealing. Liew told me the bands are expected to provide 4 to 7 days of battery life, even with the heart rate monitor continually checking your pulse.
In addition to tracking your health, the new bands will deliver notifications from multiple apps (including WhatsApp and Line) tell time, control music and more. This puts it closer to smartwatch territory than a simple fitness band. At a sub-$100 price, that's a very intriguing range of functions.
The Leap Fit and Curve both feature a 1-inch touch screen, which is curved on the more premium Curve model. In fact, everything in the Liquid Leap Curve, from the battery to the circuit board, is curved, said Liew. All the Liquid Leap bands are also waterproof.
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Cherlynn is Deputy Editor, Reviews at Engadget and also leads the site's Google reporting. She graduated with a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University before joining Tom's Guide and its sister site LaptopMag as a staff writer, where she covered wearables, cameras, laptops, computers and smartphones, among many other subjects.