Vector Watch Review

Tom Westrick

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I couldn't compress all the images for this review, so here is a link to all the images.

Smartwatches right now are a wildly different experience depending on which brand you purchase. On one end, you have Android Wear, the Apple Watch and Samsung?s Gear line replicating most of the functionality of the phone the watch is connected to with voice actions, cellular support, and music storage on certain models. On the other end of the spectrum, there are devices like the Fossil Q54 Pilot, which is an analog watch with a vibration motor and notification light. The middle consists of the Pebble, which offers a colored screen, the ability to switch watch faces, but no music storage, limited voice actions and no cellular connectivity.

I prefer the middle of the spectrum. The four main things I use my watch for are to view notifications, control my music, as an alarm to wake me up, and to keep my phone unlocked when they are connected over Bluetooth. There?s some other features like custom watch faces I enjoy as well, but they aren?t necessary. For more complex things like voice actions or storing music, I prefer to just use my phone.

I?ve tried a couple Android Wear watches and as much as I liked them, I prefer the middle of the smartwatch spectrum. I still have my Pebble Steel from fall 2014, but the past few months haven?t been good to it. The battery life is beginning to shorten, and the watch has trouble connecting and staying connected with my phone (which only exacerbates the battery problem). A few months ago, I heard about the Vector Watch, a watch with a good design, limited feature set and best of all, the claims of a 30 day battery life. When the metric for great battery life is a week, 30 days seems impossible.

I?ve been using the Vector Watch since January 27th, connected to either my Nexus 6P and Lumia 640. This is the second watch I am on, with the first one losing a chunk of the screen within the first day I owned it. I purchased the black round Luna model with a matching stainless steel band, but switched it for a leather band soon after purchase. When I did try the steel watchband for a few days, I found it uncomfortable, with an imperfect size and the metal links pulling my arm hair the watch arrived with 66% battery life, and I fully charged it on January 31st.

One standout feature of the Vector Watch is the OS support: it has an official app for iOS, Android and even Windows Phone. I had no problems connecting the watch to my Nexus 6P, and even if I step out of Bluetooth range, the watch connects right away when I get back in range. First time setup was a breeze, and it didn?t take more than ten minutes to get the watch connected and updated. I used the watch primarily with my Nexus 6P since that?s my main phone. Vector has been behind on the Windows Phone 8.1 app, but promises now features in the Windows 10 Mobile version going forward.

Right off the bat I?ll go ahead and say the battery claims are 100% real. I don?t use the social streams or step tracking, so that?ll lessen my power use. I charged the watch to 100% on January 31st, and plugged it in again on February 29th. After 29 days of use, the watch had 20% battery life remaining, exceeding Vector?s estimate. When I charged it again on March 31st, there was 31% battery remaining.

The display on the Luna model is completely round, with a little bit of bezel around it for other components. The watch isn?t overly thick, and looks completely in place on my wrist. One thing I?ve noticed during my time with the watch is no one I work or hang out with thought it was anything more than a traditional watch. When I had my Pebble, it looked different enough from a traditional watch to warrant some kind of response, but the Vector is stylish enough to look normal to most eyes. Whether this matters to you or not is up to your personal taste.

Unfortunately some of the style is ruined by the screen itself. There doesn?t seem to be any anti-fingerprint coating, so the screen gets greasy very easily even though it doesn?t have a touch screen. As mentioned above, the first model I had lost a chuck out of the front glass, even though I didn?t hit it against anything. Fortunately, the replacement has held up against accidental bangs. The metal hasn?t scratched at all in the few weeks I?ve had the watch.

Notifications come in reliably, though I do wish the vibration motor was a little stronger. When a notification comes in, the watch will vibrate. The notification won?t display though. There is a ring around the watch face, and lifting the watch to your face will display the notification. I was skeptical of this set up at first, but it works around 90% of the time for me. Other systems have promised similar actions, but this is the only one to consistently work. If you don?t get a chance to view the notification within a few seconds, the ring will remain around the watch face. You can then access your notifications by pressing the middle button on the right of the watch. An update in early March made notifications unreliable for a time, but the latest update fixed that particular bug.

Music controls were not included when my first watch arrived, but were added during an update between sending my first watch back and the replacement arriving. The layout is simple, with volume up, play/pause, and volume down options for the top, middle and bottom buttons respectively. Hold down the buttons will let you will go to the next track, take you back to the main app screen and reverse track respectively. I would have preferred if skipping/reversing the tracks was the default option or better yet, if the user could choose the default option. Despite my grumbles, the controls work well.

The alarms section has improved by leads and bounds since I first started using the watch. A new alarm can be added from both the watch and the app, and they?ll sync over the next time you connect if you set up an alarm when away from your device. The interface for setting an alarm up on the watch itself isn?t any better, but I?ve gotten used to it. The interface in the app is much better, and near identical to adding a new alarm in Android?s clock app: hours and minutes are separated into two columns, and it?s easy to scroll through the columns to set the time. The biggest improvement for me is you can now set alarms to recur on any day of the week.

Installing or deleting watch faces and apps is as easy as going to the Store within the app. There are three types of content: faces (self explanatory) streams, and apps. There have been some third party watch faces added recently, but even Vector?s options all look stylish. Streams include information like stocks, weather, a step counter, and Facebook and Twitter information that can be placed onto compatible watch faces. The amount of information depends on the stream selected; for instance, the Facebook stream only shows the amount of likes and comments from your last post.

Apps include the aforementioned music controls, Evernote, Nest, an Activity face, news publications and functions like Alarm and Timer. Apps are essentially their own watch face, with the side button used for the apps functionality. Also, you do not need to have the Alarms app installed in order to have an alarm set, the app allows you to set or edit an alarm from the watch itself rather than the Vector phone app.

The Vector Watch also offers sleep and step tracking as well. Sleep tracking seems accurate enough, logging my average 7 hours and 45 minutes of sleep per night. My steps seem accurate as well, and you can?t just shake the watch to cheat and register more steps. There?s also calorie and distance tracking, but I haven?t bothered to fill out the requisite information.

Vector?s website offers their round Luna and square Meridian watches in a number of colors and band options. If you don?t like the watch bands included, both bands work with any 22 millimeter watch band. I purchased my watch for $329 on Amazon, and I'm very happy with the purchase. Seeing how many bugs have been fixed and features added in the three months I've used the watch makes me hopeful for the future. I have no doubts Vector will straighten out their Windows Mobile app in time. The watch doesn?t attempt to duplicate every feature of my phone, it looks like any traditional watch, and the 30 day battery life is completely real. If you're in the market for a great smartwatch, definitely consider either of the Vector watches.
 

Penguwin

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Awesome review... Thanks for the info and taking the time to write this all up!

Does anything with in WP 8.1 or do you have to have WP 10?
 

Tom Westrick

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Great write up! Thanks for the review.

Did you notice a difference in notifications, app usage, etc... between the Android & Windows Mobile usage?
Definitely. The Windows version is still on the initial release of the firmware, so it's missing a lot of the newer watch faces and apps, as well as features like music controls and the recurring alarms. The team recently announced they'll be focusing on W10M going forward, so no new features are coming to the WP8.1 app.

My 640 is still on WP8.1 since I haven't had a lot of time to actually use it, but I finally got a SIM adapter and got my music loaded, so I'll be using it full time for the next few weeks. Once that's done, I'm going to flash W10M to compare experiences, so I'll see if Vector's experience is any better on W10M.
 
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Penguwin

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Definitely. The Windows version is still on the initial release of it, so it's missing a lot of the newer watch faces and apps, as well as features like music controls and the recurring alarms. The team recently announced they'll be focusing on W10M going forward, so no new features are coming to the WP8.1 app.

My 640 is still on WP8.1 since I haven't had a lot of time to actually use it, but I finally got a SIM adapter and got my music loaded, so I'll be using it full time for the next few weeks. Once that's done, I'm going to flash W10M to compare experiences, so I'll see if Vector's experience is any better on W10M.
Try to keep us updated... Much appreciated!

Thanks for the replies! :)
 

wpfan86

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Thanks for the review! A couple of questions:
Are any of the links on the metal band removable to help customize the size?
Also, I like having my Lumia connected to my car's Bluetooth while I'm driving to read texts, announce directions, etc. I assume since the vector also connects via Bluetooth I would have to choose one or the other? I couldn't be connected to the watch and car at the same time?
 

Tom Westrick

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Thanks for the review! A couple of questions:
Are any of the links on the metal band removable to help customize the size?
Also, I like having my Lumia connected to my car's Bluetooth while I'm driving to read texts, announce directions, etc. I assume since the vector also connects via Bluetooth I would have to choose one or the other? I couldn't be connected to the watch and car at the same time?

In order:

Yes, I was able to resize the band with this kit.

No issues with that, I was able to have my Lumia connected to both my watch and the car at the same time. Driving Mode worked as expected.
 

realwarder

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That is a really nice looking watch. Totally different market to a fitness watch, but if you want a great looking smart watch, this has to be the way to go.
 

wpfan86

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How would you rate the screen quality? I've read some reviews that suggest it's really bad, including one that said it looked like a 1980s Casio digital screen. That seems really over-the-top and you seem reasonable, so I'm curious to get your opinion.
 

Tom Westrick

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How would you rate the screen quality? I've read some reviews that suggest it's really bad, including one that said it looked like a 1980s Casio digital screen. That seems really over-the-top and you seem reasonable, so I'm curious to get your opinion.
It displays the time and notifications. It's not too bright in the dark, but I can still see it in daylight. Other than those things, I don't care. I'm not trying to watch a 4K movie on my wrist.
 

buzzard75

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You referenced the store within the app. Are we to assume additional faces, streams, and apps cost money? If so, how much on average? Outside of steps, calories burned, and sleep, are there any other activity tracking capabilities? I know this watch isn't the top choice for hardcore activity tracking, just wondering what is available. Also, how well is it still functioning with Windows Phone? I've read some reviews on the app page on the Microsoft Store and they're less than stellar to the point where it's bricked some people's watches or made them useless for anything other than a timepiece.
 

white90box

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I think you saw my review of the app. My watch was actually bricked by the android app. I factory reset it and was going to try it on an Xperia phone because WhatsApp notifications weren't coming to my Lumia at all when the watch was paired. I don't know if I am going to buy another Vector when they refund my money, but if I do, I hope they come out with a Windows 10 app soon. I had it working pretty well (aside from that one massive problem), but some people can't get it to work on Windows 10 at all. If they weren't so expensive I'd say go for it because they really are beautiful watches, especially in person.

The store in the app isn't really a store. Nothing costs money right now, but maybe they will add that later.
 

Tom Westrick

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Update for you guys: I ended up selling my 640 to a friend so he could give it to his mother for mother's day, so I no longer have a Windows device to use with this watch.
 

cnashx

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I just purchased one of these to wear basically everyday and wear my band 2 on specific occasions (like when I play golf). Can't wait to get it in and mess with it, I have been debating for awhile and didn't want to spend that much money but I got the black watch with the black metal band for $260 shipped so I'm hoping it's worth it. :)
 

Penguwin

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I just purchased one of these to wear basically everyday and wear my band 2 on specific occasions (like when I play golf). Can't wait to get it in and mess with it, I have been debating for awhile and didn't want to spend that much money but I got the black watch with the black metal band for $260 shipped so I'm hoping it's worth it. :)
Any update on this and how you like it?

How well it works with Windows Phone 10?
 

George Ponder

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It's a fantastic smartwatch but I just wish it had more influence on the fitness band side of things. Maybe integration with Fitbit, Garmin or even the Microsoft Band app.
 

Witness

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It's a fantastic smartwatch but I just wish it had more influence on the fitness band side of things. Maybe integration with Fitbit, Garmin or even the Microsoft Band app.

So I've been using mine for a full day now and I'm contemplating on returning it. Several factors to this decision:
  • That vibration is very weak. I can barely feel it if I'm doing anything, so it could go unnoticed. Since there's no notification icon, it makes it that much easier to miss an incoming text which is why I want a wearable in the first place.
  • Call ID/Rejection and text notifications come in very delayed or doesn't come in at all. I send a test text and it took minutes to arrive on the watch.
  • Cortana and Meeting alarms also took a long time to arrive on the watch. Sometimes 8 minutes later.

I want to like this watch, but it has failed several key tests. These text and call notifications are very important while I work and it's just not cutting it. Do you experience similar delays?
 

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