Categories
Furnace

1500C Atmosphere Controlled Quenching Furnace with Glovebox

1500C Atmosphere Controlled Quenching Furnace with Glovebox

OTF-1500X-VGB is a vertical quenching tube furnace joints with the atmosphere controlled glove box. The integrated purification system is able to reduce the moisture and humidity to

OTF-1500X-VGB is a vertical quenching tube furnace joints with the atmosphere controlled glove box. The integrated purification system is able to reduce the moisture and humidity to glove box. Users can vertically load the material into the furnace tube without exposure to the oxygen or moisture. The auto electromagnetic sample release mechanism is used to hang/release the sample in/from the hot zone for heat treatment/quenching. The SS304 quenching chamber at the bottom of the furnace is also airtight which ensures a clean and healthy atmosphere suitable for quenching sample from high temperature ( Max. 1500°C) into oil rapidly. It is an ideal tool to study phase transition and microstructure of oxygen & moisture-sensitive materials.

SPECIFICATIONS

System Structure
  • The air-tight joint between the furnace chamber and glove box protects the sample from oxidation in the preparation, transferring processes.
  • Vertical loading of the material with a glove box above the furnace. An electromagnetic release mechanism can release the sample into the quenching chamber at the bottom.
  • Electric gate valve at the bottom of the tube can isolate the heating chamber from the quenching chamber and open for sample drop when quenching is needed.
  • Both Electromagnet sample release flange and the bottom gate valve are with water cooling jackets which help protect Viton sealing gaskets from over-heated.
Input Power
  • AC 208-240V Single Phase, 50/60 Hz
  • 1.5 KW (for glove box); 4KW (for furnace)
Glove-Box
  • Gas purification station is integrated to ensure a low O2 & H2O environment (glove box.
  • Case Material: Stainless steel 304 with 3 mm thickness
  • Chamber dimension: 1200 mm L x 740 mm W x 900 mm H
  • Openable front window panel (tempered glass, 8 mm thick)  for easy device loading
  • Please Click Picture left for detail specification
Hydraulic Press
(optional)
Electromagnet Release &
Quenching Media Tank

  • Electromagnet Auto-drop Mechanism for sample easy release under vacuum or atmosphere controlled environment.
  • Hinged plate with a hook & cable can hang the sample in the hot zone for heat treatment.
  • Hinged plate releases when the electromagnet is powered off. Then the sample falls into the quenching tank.
  • Rings attached to the top flange for hanging the quartz block to prevent heat dissipation.
  • Improved top flange design allows easy sample reload without uninstalling all parts of the flange.
  • Bottom flange is connected with a 4″ gate valve ( electrically operated ) via CF-100 adaptor.
  • The gate valve is connected with a quenching media container which is airtight
  • Note: It is suggested to use oil (such as diffusion pump fluid) as quenching agent if quenching under vacuum.
  • Flange Structure Flange Operation  Gate Valve Quenching Tank Quenching Pulling Cable
France Specs
 
  • Working Temperature: 1500oC oC  continuous
  • Heating Rate ≤ 10oC /min
  • Heating Elements: 4 pcs 1500°C rated SiC
  • Processing Tube:
    • Mullite tube made in the USA
    • OD:50 mm x ID: 42 mm x Length: 650 mm (included)
  • Heating Zone Length: 6″ (152 mm)
  • Constant Temperature Zone: 60 mm  (+/- 2°C)
  • Temperature Accuracy: +/- 1.0°C
Temperature Controllers
  • 30 programmable segments for precise control of heating rate, cooling rate and dwell time.
  • Built-in PID Auto-Tune function with overheating & broken thermocouple broken protection.
  • Over-temperature protection and alarm allow for operation without attendant(s).
  • +/- 1 ºC temperature accuracy.
  • RS485 Communications Port.
  • PC control software and interface module are optional. Please select the package option.
Water-Cooled Flanges
  • Both top and bottom flanges have water-cooling jacket (See left picture), which cools and preserves the O-ring sealings on the flange during high-temperature operation
  • Please click the picture below to order water chiller at extra cost
Vacuum Level
  • 10^-2 torr can be achieved by the mechanical pump
  • 10^-5 torr can be reached by the faster turbopump system
  • Note: Vacuum pump is not included.  Please click Pic below to order  separately
Dimension  Please click the image to enlarge 
Net Weight ~800lbs
Shipping weight ~1400lbs
Warranty One-year limited warranty (Consumable parts such as heating elements, processing tubes
and o-rings are not covered by the warranty)
Laptop, software & WiFi Control (Optional)
  • Brand new laptop with Microsoft Window 10 and Microsoft Office 2013 (30 days free trial) for immediate use.
  • Labview Based Temperature Control System (EQ-MTS01) enables user to edit temperature profile, manage heat-treatment recipe, record and plot data for MTI furnaces.
  • A wireless remote control provides up to 300 meters operating range.
  • Above features are available upon request at an extra cost (up to $1,000). Please contact us for more information.
  • Note: The software is only compatible with MTI’s Yudian Temperature Controller
  •     
Compliance
  • CE Certified
  • The furnace is ready to pass NRTL certification (UL61010)  or CSA certification at extra cost.
Application Notes


Click here to learn how to install a gas regulator.

  • In order to obtain accurate temperature inside the tube furnace, you shall calibrate temperature before use, please click here to learn how.
  • How to set up the ceramic tube and vacuum flange for MTI Tube furnace.
  • The tube furnaces with mullite tube are designed for use under vacuum and low pressure
  • Never use graphite crucible in the alumina tube.
  • Attention: A two-stage pressure regulator must be installed on the gas cylinder to limit the pressure to below 3 PSI for safe operation. Click here to learn the installation of a gas regulator.
  • Never heat the furnace while the gas release valve is closed and a positive pressure condition exists within the furnace chamber. The pressure gauge must be used to closely monitor the chamber condition at all times during the heating process; please open the gas release valve immediately once the chamber pressure has reached over 3 PSI to prevent unforeseeable damages.
  • Vacuum limit definition for all mullite tube furnaces: * Vacuum pressures may only be safely used up to 1400°C
Operation Instructions
Categories
OPV PVD

Angstrom Engineering leads the way in solving PVD process challenges using the controlled atmosphere of a glove box

Angstrom Engineering leads the way in solving PVD process challenges using the controlled atmosphere of a glove box. This integration allows  PVD and non-PVD processes to be connected within a controlled environment. Sensitive materials and substrates can be stored, moved from process to process and tested without exposure to the room environment.

Total integration means that samples, in addition to the evaporated materials, can be loaded from the glovebox.

With a focus on system usability and accessibility, Angstrom Engineering is ready to configure a complete system to meet your space and application requirements.

A controlled environment glovebox attached to a cluster physical vapor deposition pvd thin film vacuum system created by Angstrom Engineering
Categories
Perovskite solar cell

What Issues do Perovskites Face?

The biggest issue in the field of perovskites currently is long-term instability. This has been shown be due to degradation pathways involving external factors, such as water, light, and oxygen,7 and also as a result of intrinsic instability, such as degradation upon heating, because of the properties of the material.4 For an overview of the causes of perovskite degradation, see Ossila’s guide.

Several strategies have been proposed in order to improve stability, most successfully by changing component choice. Using mixed-cation systems (for example by including inorganic cations such as rubidium or caesium) has been shown to improve both stability and efficiency.8 The first perovskite cells to exceed 20% efficiency used a mixed organic cation system,9 and many of the highest-efficiency systems published recently use inorganic components. Movement towards hydrophobic, UV-stable interfacial layers has also improved stability – for example by replacing TiO2, which is susceptible to UV degradation, with SnO2.10

Stability has also been improved through use of surface passivation11 and by combining 2D-layered (Ruddlesden-Popper) perovskites (which show better intrinsic stability, but poorer performance) with conventional 3D perovskites.12 These efforts (along with factors such as better encapsulation)13 have vastly improved the stability of perovskites since their initial introduction, and lifetimes are well on their way to meeting industrial standards – with recent work showing cells able to withstand a 1000-hour damp heat test.14 For a more in-depth discussion of methods to improve perovskite stability, see Ossila’s guide.

Comparison between 2D & 3D perovskite structure
Conventional 3D perovskite (left) compared to a generic 2D perovskite structure (right).

 

Another issue yet to be fully addressed is the use of lead in perovskite compounds. Though it is used in much smaller quantities than those currently present in either lead- or cadmium-based batteries, the presence of lead in products for commercial use is problematic.  Concerns still remain about exposure to toxic lead compounds (through leaching of the perovskite into the environment), and some studies have suggested large-scale implementation of perovskites would require complete containment of degradation products.15 In contrast, other life cycle assessments have found the toxicity impact of lead to be negligible in comparison to other materials in the cell (such as the cathode).5

There is also potential for a lead alternative to be used in perovskite solar cells (such as tin-based perovskites), but the power conversion efficiency of such devices is still significantly behind lead-based devices, with the record for a tin-based perovskite currently standing at 9.0%.16 Some studies have also concluded that tin may actually have a higher environmental toxicity than lead,17 and other less toxic alternatives are required.

Another major issue in terms of performance is the current-voltage hysteresis commonly seen in devices. The factors impacting hysteresis are still under debate, but it is most commonly attributed to mobile ion migration in combination with high levels of recombination.18 Methods to reduce hysteresis include varying cell architecture, surface passivation, and increasing lead iodide content,19 as well as general strategies to reduce recombination.

 

Graph showing current-voltage hysteresis in perovskite solar cells
An approximation of current-voltage hysteresis often encountered in perovskite solar cells.

 

To enable a truly low cost-per-watt, perovskite solar cells need to have achieved the much-heralded trio of high efficiency, long lifetimes, and low manufacturing costs. This has not yet been achieved for other thin-film technologies, but perovskite-based devices currently demonstrate enormous potential for achieving this.

Categories
Perovskite solar cell

Why are Perovskite Solar Cells So Significant?

There are two key graphs which demonstrate why perovskite solar cells have attracted such prominent attention in the short time since 2012. The first of these graphs (which uses data taken from the NREL solar cell efficiency chart)1 demonstrates the power conversion efficiencies of the perovskite-based devices over recent years, in comparison to emergent photovoltaic research technology, and also traditional thin-film photovoltaics.

The graph shows a meteoric rise compared to most other technologies over a relatively short period of time. Within 4 years of their breakthrough, perovskite solar cells had equalled efficiencies of Cadmium Telluride (CdTe), which has been around for over 40 year. Furthermore, as of June 2018 they have now exceeded all other thin-film, non-concentrator technologies – including CdTe and Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS). Although it could be argued that more resources and better infrastructure for solar cell research have been available in the last few years, the dramatic rise in perovskite solar cell efficiency is still incredibly significant and impressive.

 

Perovskite crystal structure in the form ABX3
Perovskite solar cells have increased in power conversion efficiency at a phenomenal rate compared to other types of photovoltaics. Although this figure only represents lab-based “hero cells”, it heralds great promise.

 

The second key graph below is the open-circuit voltage compared to the band gap for a range of technologies that compete against perovskites. This graph demonstrates how much of a photon’s energy is lost in the conversion process from light to electricity. For standard excitonic-based, organic-based solar cells, this loss can be as high as 50% of the absorbed energy, whereas perovskite solar cells regularly exceed 70% photon energy utilisation, and have the potential to be increased even further.4

This is approaching the values of state-of-the-art technologies (such as GaAs), but at a significantly lower cost. Crystalline silicon solar cells, arguably the closest comparator to perovskites in terms of efficiency and cost, are already up to 1000 times cheaper than state-of-the-art GaAs.5 Perovskites have the potential to become even cheaper than this.

 

The maximum photon energy utilisation (defined as the open circuit voltage Voc divided by the optical bandgap Eg) for common single junction solar cells material systems. Calculated from state of the art cells detailed in NREL efficiency tables.6
Categories
New Perovskite solar cell

What are Perovskites?

The terms “perovskite” and “perovskite structure” are often used interchangeably. Technically, a perovskite is a type of mineral that was first found in the Ural Mountains and named after Lev Perovski (who was the founder of the Russian Geographical Society). A perovskite structure is any compound that has the same structure as the perovskite mineral.

True perovskite (the mineral) is composed of calcium, titanium and oxygen in the form CaTiO3. Meanwhile, a perovskite structure is anything that has the generic form ABX3 and the same crystallographic structure as perovskite (the mineral). However, since most people in the solar cell world aren’t involved with minerals and geology, perovskite and perovskite structure are used interchangeably.

The perovskite lattice arrangement is demonstrated below. As with many structures in crystallography, it can be represented in multiple ways. The simplest way to think about a perovskite is as a large atomic or molecular cation (positively-charged) of type A in the centre of a cube. The corners of the cube are then occupied by atoms B (also positively-charged cations) and the faces of the cube are occupied by a smaller atom X with negative charge (anion).

 

generic perovskite crystal structure in ABX form
A generic perovskite crystal structure of the form ABX3. Note that the two structures are equivalent – the left-hand structure is drawn so that atom B is at the position while the right-hand structure is drawn so that atom (or molecule) A is at the position. Also note that the lines are a guide to represent crystal orientation rather than bonding patterns.

 

Depending on which atoms/molecules are used in the structure, perovskites can have an impressive array of interesting properties, including superconductivity, giant magnetoresistance, spin-dependent transport (spintronics) and catalytic properties. Perovskites therefore represent an exciting playground for physicists, chemists and material scientists.

Perovskites were first successfully used in solid-state solar cells in 2012,2,3 and since then most cells have used the following combination of materials in the usual perovskite form ABX3:

  • A = An organic cation – methylammonium (CH3NH3+) or formamidinium (NH2CHNH2+)
  • B = A big inorganic cation – usually lead(II) (Pb2+)
  • X3= A slightly smaller halogen anion – usually chloride (Cl) or iodide (I)

 

Since this is a relatively general structure, these perovskite-based devices can also be given a number of different names, which can either refer to a more general class of materials or a specific combination. As an example of this, we’ve created the table below to highlight how many names can be formed from one basic structure.

 

A B X3
Organo Metal Trihalide (or trihalide)
Methylammonium Lead Iodide (or triiodide)
Plumbate Chloride (or trichloride)
The perovskite ‘name-picking’ table: Pick any one item from columns A, B or X3 to come up with a valid name. Examples include: Organo-lead-chlorides, Methylammonium-metal-trihalides, organo-plumbate-iodides etc.

 

The table demonstrates how vast the parameter space is for potential material/structure combinations, as there are many other atoms/molecules that could be substituted for each column. The choice of material combinations will be crucial for determining both the optical and electronic properties (e.g. bandgap and commensurate absorption spectra, mobility, diffusion lengths, etc). A simple brute-force optimisation by combinatorial screening in the lab is likely to be very inefficient at finding good perovskite structures.

The majority of efficient perovskites are based on Group IV (specifically, lead) metal halides, and moving beyond this has proved challenging. It is likely more in-depth knowledge than currently available is required to fully explore the range of possible perovskite structures. Lead-based perovskite-based solar cells are particularly good because of a range of factors, including strong absorption in the visible regime, long charge-carrier diffusion lengths, a tunable band gap, and easy manufacture (due to the high defect tolerance and the ability to process at low temperatures).

Categories
battery

Ice Cream Maker Free Chocolate

Apple Watch review: Design

For a slightly more opinionated version of the video review above, here’s the male half of the Macworld team arguing (after four months with this device) about whether the Apple Watch is a great or a terrible product:

The Apple Watch is beautifully designed and engineered, with a great look and feel. It’s chunky, rounded body is faintly reminiscent of the original iPhone, yet simultaneously modern-looking and very satisfying to hold. The Apple Watch is also pleasingly comfortable on the wrist.

hermes_largeWe’ve seen lots of fitness trackers over the years, and they’ve typically struck us as pretty formulaic: plasticky wristbands with little fashion appeal. One activity tracker brand tried to convince us that their activity tracker was designed to appeal to a fashion-conscious woman; they even thought that women would wear it around their neck like a necklace. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t jewellery. None of the fitness trackers on the market are.

It’s a similar story with smartwatches. Sure, over the past year they’ve become more and more popular with guys looking for the latest tech gadget, but they don’t appeal to everyone. One major issue is that most smartwatches are designed for men. They wouldn’t sit comfortably on a smaller wrist.

Apple Watch review: Dimensions

There are two sizes of watch: the 38mm model (which actually measures 38.6 by 33.3 mm) and the 42mm model (which measures 42 by 35.9 mm). Both have a thickness of 10.5mm.

  • 38mm model: 38.6 x 33.3 x 10.5mm
  • 42mm model: 42.0 x 35.9 x 10.5mm

Here’s how a 38mm Apple Watch looks on Karen’s wrist:

slide-1

Apple Watch review: Build quality

Speaking of the materials the watch is made from, there are three options: aluminium for the Watch Sport, stainless steel for the Watch, and 18-carat gold for the Watch Edition. The Watch and Watch Edition come with sapphire screens, the Sport version with ion-x glass.

pexels-photo-28222We love the look and feel of the Apple Watch. As we mentioned above, it looks a bit like a shrunk-down version of the original iPhone, and it’s reassuringly robust – after almost a year with the Watch, there no scratches on the body or screen, although the brighter of our two Sport Band straps is starting to look a bit grubby.

Apple doesn’t recommend dunking your Apple Watch first-gen in water. While the watch is rated as water-resistant to the IPX7 standard, which should mean it will survive in water up to a depth of 1 metre for up to 30 minutes, Apple describes it as “splash- and water-resistant but not waterproof”. So it’s ok to use it in the shower – as Apple’s CEO Tim Cook apparently does – but it’s not to be taken swimming.

Having said that, plenty of reckless reviewers have done exactly that, and we’ve yet to hear anyone complain that their watch was damaged by the experience. We don’t recommend taking the risk, and you obviously won’t have a leg to stand on with Apple if something does go wrong since they’ve been careful to only claim it’s water-resistant. But it appears that yes, the Apple Watch is waterproof.

Apple Watch review: Straps

While we’re on the subject of straps, which one should you pick to go with your beautiful Apple Watch?

compare_large2

There are a wide collection of straps to choose from, including: Link Bracelet, Sport Band, Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Modern Buckle, Milanese Loop and more recently, Nylon band and Hermes straps.

The Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle

The Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle, Woven Nylon and Sport Band options are offered in multiple colour choices while the Milanese Loop and Link Bracelet are only available in two colours. The Sport Band comes in 22 different colours including black, white, pink, yellow, blue, grey, lime green, lavender, antique white, stone and midnight blue, for example.

Apple Watch review: Screen

While doing our best to extend the watch’s battery life, we wanted to force-quit some apps and found the method of doing so deeply counterintuitive.

bands_large-copyReturning to the screen, the resolution depends on the watch you choose. The resolution of the screen on the 38mm Apple Watch (which measures 1.32 inches diagonally) is 272×340 while the 42mm model offers 312×390 on a screen that measures 1.5 inches. Both models, therefore, offer a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch, or ppi.

In both cases, the Apple Watch screen is officially rated (or perhaps we should say branded) as Retina-quality, and our subjective experience with it has been great. It’s sharp and vividly colourful and we’ve yet to notice any pixellation.

The touchscreen aspects work terrifically too: it’s highly responsive, and we found we tend to fall back on old habits, swiping through screens whenever possible by using the touchscreen even if a scrolling option is available via the Digital Crown. It ought to be as easy to quit apps and glances as it is on the iPhone – but it isn’t. To quit an app you have to press and hold the side button, and then do the same again. Nobody is going to stumble on that by accident.

Apple Watch review: User interface

edition_large

Apple’s design expertise is only a small part of what makes the Apple Watch stand out. Another factor in its favour is the user interface. The problem many current smartwatches have is that the UI is packed onto a tiny display and you need to manipulate those tiny visual elements using your fingers, which are inevitably bigger than the elements you’re trying to touch.

Below we examine Apple’s method for controlling the user interface, and the software you can expect to see on the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch review: Using the Apple Watch screen

One way to use the Watch is via the screen. You can scroll around the screen, tap on items to select them or press harder to get more options – akin to using right click on a mouse. Various gestures bring up other elements of the operating system. For example, Glances are accessed by swiping up on the watch face.

gallery_large-new2

There’s also Apple’s Force Touch technology that determines how hard you are pressing the Watch and will act accordingly. There is a difference between a hard press and a simple tap. (We discuss Force Touch in more detail below.)

Apple Watch review: Speed/performance

One possible weakness of the Apple Watch – depending on how demanding your standards are when it comes to wearable tech – could be its all-around speed. Numerous reviewers have found the interface sluggish in use and noticed a delay before certain actions.

Update 8 September 2016: It should be noted that the below section is based on the original watch and not the Series 1 or 2 which feature a 50 percent faster processor.

As with many aspects of this product, experiences have varied among the team, and it’s likely that day-to-day performance is influenced by factors such as apps and Glances currently running. It’s rare to find an app that’s near-instantaneous to respond, as they’ll open quickly but will often hang, leaving us staring at a black loading screen; and syncing processes with the iPhone, over a Bluetooth connection, can be sluggish.

We’ve also found, as have many users, that third-party apps can sometimes be slow to start up. watchOS 2 looked to speed up third-party apps by allowing them to run natively on the Apple watch, but as we mention in our watchOS 2 section of the review below, we still find apps pretty sluggish and we often give up and end up using our iPhone apps instead.

Apple Watch review: Using the Digital Crown

Apple’s solution to the navigation problem is to use something that has always been a feature of watches in a new way.

The dial on the side of the watch – its proper name is the crown – has been brought into the 21st century and turned into what Apple calls the Digital Crown. This Digital Crown solves the problem of swiping through icons on a minuscule display.

nike_alt_large-new12

Below the Digital Crown is another button. This button takes you to the home screen and to the Friends app, from which you can contact your friends (more on that below). This button is also used when you’re paying for things using Apple Pay (more on that below, also).

Apple Watch review: Battery life

Apple claims that on a typical day, with typical usage, you should get 18 hours of battery life from the Apple Watch. In other words, you ought to be able to get through a whole day, but that will be about it: expect to charge it every night. (Which, incidentally, rules out being able to sleep with the watch on – which is likely to be a disappointment to developers of sleep-related apps.)

apple-watch-charging
In fact, your use may vary. Apple’s ‘typical day’ included a half-hour workout, but if you exercise more than that you may use up the battery quicker – in Apple’s tests, the battery lasted 6.5 hours during a workout (so you should at least be able to run that marathon without running out of battery). If you use the Apple Watch to play music you will also find that to be a bit of a battery hog. Apple got 6.5 hours of audio playback out of the test device before it ran out of power.

Apple Watch review: Apple Watch UK price

Pricing varies depending on the watch and strap you choose. For more information about Watch prices, read our Apple Watch buying advice.

The Apple Watch price starts at £259 in the UK; that’s for the 38mm Apple Watch Sport with a plastic band, and £299 for the 42mm version. The stainless steel Apple Watch starts at £479 and the newer Apple Watch Hermes starts at £1000, while the 18-carat gold Apple Watch Edition starts at an eye-watering £8,000.

OUR VERDICT

The Apple Watch isn’t the first ever smartwatch, and it doesn’t really do anything rival products don’t do. But what it does do, it does as well as any smartwatch out there, thanks to Apple’s user interface expertise. It’s a slick device to use, although you should be warned that it isn’t completely intuitive, particularly at first. With use it will become more familiar and user-friendly.

Categories
battery

Growing vegetables at home, six of the best

Apple Watch review: Design

For a slightly more opinionated version of the video review above, here’s the male half of the Macworld team arguing (after four months with this device) about whether the Apple Watch is a great or a terrible product:

The Apple Watch is beautifully designed and engineered, with a great look and feel. It’s chunky, rounded body is faintly reminiscent of the original iPhone, yet simultaneously modern-looking and very satisfying to hold. The Apple Watch is also pleasingly comfortable on the wrist.

hermes_largeWe’ve seen lots of fitness trackers over the years, and they’ve typically struck us as pretty formulaic: plasticky wristbands with little fashion appeal. One activity tracker brand tried to convince us that their activity tracker was designed to appeal to a fashion-conscious woman; they even thought that women would wear it around their neck like a necklace. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t jewellery. None of the fitness trackers on the market are.

It’s a similar story with smartwatches. Sure, over the past year they’ve become more and more popular with guys looking for the latest tech gadget, but they don’t appeal to everyone. One major issue is that most smartwatches are designed for men. They wouldn’t sit comfortably on a smaller wrist.

Apple Watch review: Dimensions

There are two sizes of watch: the 38mm model (which actually measures 38.6 by 33.3 mm) and the 42mm model (which measures 42 by 35.9 mm). Both have a thickness of 10.5mm.

  • 38mm model: 38.6 x 33.3 x 10.5mm
  • 42mm model: 42.0 x 35.9 x 10.5mm

Here’s how a 38mm Apple Watch looks on Karen’s wrist:

slide-1

Apple Watch review: Build quality

Speaking of the materials the watch is made from, there are three options: aluminium for the Watch Sport, stainless steel for the Watch, and 18-carat gold for the Watch Edition. The Watch and Watch Edition come with sapphire screens, the Sport version with ion-x glass.

pexels-photo-28222We love the look and feel of the Apple Watch. As we mentioned above, it looks a bit like a shrunk-down version of the original iPhone, and it’s reassuringly robust – after almost a year with the Watch, there no scratches on the body or screen, although the brighter of our two Sport Band straps is starting to look a bit grubby.

Apple doesn’t recommend dunking your Apple Watch first-gen in water. While the watch is rated as water-resistant to the IPX7 standard, which should mean it will survive in water up to a depth of 1 metre for up to 30 minutes, Apple describes it as “splash- and water-resistant but not waterproof”. So it’s ok to use it in the shower – as Apple’s CEO Tim Cook apparently does – but it’s not to be taken swimming.

Having said that, plenty of reckless reviewers have done exactly that, and we’ve yet to hear anyone complain that their watch was damaged by the experience. We don’t recommend taking the risk, and you obviously won’t have a leg to stand on with Apple if something does go wrong since they’ve been careful to only claim it’s water-resistant. But it appears that yes, the Apple Watch is waterproof.

Apple Watch review: Straps

While we’re on the subject of straps, which one should you pick to go with your beautiful Apple Watch?

compare_large2

There are a wide collection of straps to choose from, including: Link Bracelet, Sport Band, Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Modern Buckle, Milanese Loop and more recently, Nylon band and Hermes straps.

The Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle

The Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle, Woven Nylon and Sport Band options are offered in multiple colour choices while the Milanese Loop and Link Bracelet are only available in two colours. The Sport Band comes in 22 different colours including black, white, pink, yellow, blue, grey, lime green, lavender, antique white, stone and midnight blue, for example.

Apple Watch review: Screen

While doing our best to extend the watch’s battery life, we wanted to force-quit some apps and found the method of doing so deeply counterintuitive.

bands_large-copyReturning to the screen, the resolution depends on the watch you choose. The resolution of the screen on the 38mm Apple Watch (which measures 1.32 inches diagonally) is 272×340 while the 42mm model offers 312×390 on a screen that measures 1.5 inches. Both models, therefore, offer a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch, or ppi.

In both cases, the Apple Watch screen is officially rated (or perhaps we should say branded) as Retina-quality, and our subjective experience with it has been great. It’s sharp and vividly colourful and we’ve yet to notice any pixellation.

The touchscreen aspects work terrifically too: it’s highly responsive, and we found we tend to fall back on old habits, swiping through screens whenever possible by using the touchscreen even if a scrolling option is available via the Digital Crown. It ought to be as easy to quit apps and glances as it is on the iPhone – but it isn’t. To quit an app you have to press and hold the side button, and then do the same again. Nobody is going to stumble on that by accident.

Apple Watch review: User interface

edition_large

Apple’s design expertise is only a small part of what makes the Apple Watch stand out. Another factor in its favour is the user interface. The problem many current smartwatches have is that the UI is packed onto a tiny display and you need to manipulate those tiny visual elements using your fingers, which are inevitably bigger than the elements you’re trying to touch.

Below we examine Apple’s method for controlling the user interface, and the software you can expect to see on the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch review: Using the Apple Watch screen

One way to use the Watch is via the screen. You can scroll around the screen, tap on items to select them or press harder to get more options – akin to using right click on a mouse. Various gestures bring up other elements of the operating system. For example, Glances are accessed by swiping up on the watch face.

gallery_large-new2

There’s also Apple’s Force Touch technology that determines how hard you are pressing the Watch and will act accordingly. There is a difference between a hard press and a simple tap. (We discuss Force Touch in more detail below.)

Apple Watch review: Speed/performance

One possible weakness of the Apple Watch – depending on how demanding your standards are when it comes to wearable tech – could be its all-around speed. Numerous reviewers have found the interface sluggish in use and noticed a delay before certain actions.

Update 8 September 2016: It should be noted that the below section is based on the original watch and not the Series 1 or 2 which feature a 50 percent faster processor.

As with many aspects of this product, experiences have varied among the team, and it’s likely that day-to-day performance is influenced by factors such as apps and Glances currently running. It’s rare to find an app that’s near-instantaneous to respond, as they’ll open quickly but will often hang, leaving us staring at a black loading screen; and syncing processes with the iPhone, over a Bluetooth connection, can be sluggish.

We’ve also found, as have many users, that third-party apps can sometimes be slow to start up. watchOS 2 looked to speed up third-party apps by allowing them to run natively on the Apple watch, but as we mention in our watchOS 2 section of the review below, we still find apps pretty sluggish and we often give up and end up using our iPhone apps instead.

Apple Watch review: Using the Digital Crown

Apple’s solution to the navigation problem is to use something that has always been a feature of watches in a new way.

The dial on the side of the watch – its proper name is the crown – has been brought into the 21st century and turned into what Apple calls the Digital Crown. This Digital Crown solves the problem of swiping through icons on a minuscule display.

nike_alt_large-new12

Below the Digital Crown is another button. This button takes you to the home screen and to the Friends app, from which you can contact your friends (more on that below). This button is also used when you’re paying for things using Apple Pay (more on that below, also).

Apple Watch review: Battery life

Apple claims that on a typical day, with typical usage, you should get 18 hours of battery life from the Apple Watch. In other words, you ought to be able to get through a whole day, but that will be about it: expect to charge it every night. (Which, incidentally, rules out being able to sleep with the watch on – which is likely to be a disappointment to developers of sleep-related apps.)

apple-watch-charging
In fact, your use may vary. Apple’s ‘typical day’ included a half-hour workout, but if you exercise more than that you may use up the battery quicker – in Apple’s tests, the battery lasted 6.5 hours during a workout (so you should at least be able to run that marathon without running out of battery). If you use the Apple Watch to play music you will also find that to be a bit of a battery hog. Apple got 6.5 hours of audio playback out of the test device before it ran out of power.

Apple Watch review: Apple Watch UK price

Pricing varies depending on the watch and strap you choose. For more information about Watch prices, read our Apple Watch buying advice.

The Apple Watch price starts at £259 in the UK; that’s for the 38mm Apple Watch Sport with a plastic band, and £299 for the 42mm version. The stainless steel Apple Watch starts at £479 and the newer Apple Watch Hermes starts at £1000, while the 18-carat gold Apple Watch Edition starts at an eye-watering £8,000.

OUR VERDICT

The Apple Watch isn’t the first ever smartwatch, and it doesn’t really do anything rival products don’t do. But what it does do, it does as well as any smartwatch out there, thanks to Apple’s user interface expertise. It’s a slick device to use, although you should be warned that it isn’t completely intuitive, particularly at first. With use it will become more familiar and user-friendly.

Categories
battery

At Value-Focused Hotels, the Free Breakfast Gets Bigger

Apple Watch review: Design

For a slightly more opinionated version of the video review above, here’s the male half of the Macworld team arguing (after four months with this device) about whether the Apple Watch is a great or a terrible product:

The Apple Watch is beautifully designed and engineered, with a great look and feel. It’s chunky, rounded body is faintly reminiscent of the original iPhone, yet simultaneously modern-looking and very satisfying to hold. The Apple Watch is also pleasingly comfortable on the wrist.

hermes_largeWe’ve seen lots of fitness trackers over the years, and they’ve typically struck us as pretty formulaic: plasticky wristbands with little fashion appeal. One activity tracker brand tried to convince us that their activity tracker was designed to appeal to a fashion-conscious woman; they even thought that women would wear it around their neck like a necklace. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t jewellery. None of the fitness trackers on the market are.

It’s a similar story with smartwatches. Sure, over the past year they’ve become more and more popular with guys looking for the latest tech gadget, but they don’t appeal to everyone. One major issue is that most smartwatches are designed for men. They wouldn’t sit comfortably on a smaller wrist.

Apple Watch review: Dimensions

There are two sizes of watch: the 38mm model (which actually measures 38.6 by 33.3 mm) and the 42mm model (which measures 42 by 35.9 mm). Both have a thickness of 10.5mm.

  • 38mm model: 38.6 x 33.3 x 10.5mm
  • 42mm model: 42.0 x 35.9 x 10.5mm

Here’s how a 38mm Apple Watch looks on Karen’s wrist:

slide-1

Apple Watch review: Build quality

Speaking of the materials the watch is made from, there are three options: aluminium for the Watch Sport, stainless steel for the Watch, and 18-carat gold for the Watch Edition. The Watch and Watch Edition come with sapphire screens, the Sport version with ion-x glass.

pexels-photo-28222We love the look and feel of the Apple Watch. As we mentioned above, it looks a bit like a shrunk-down version of the original iPhone, and it’s reassuringly robust – after almost a year with the Watch, there no scratches on the body or screen, although the brighter of our two Sport Band straps is starting to look a bit grubby.

Apple doesn’t recommend dunking your Apple Watch first-gen in water. While the watch is rated as water-resistant to the IPX7 standard, which should mean it will survive in water up to a depth of 1 metre for up to 30 minutes, Apple describes it as “splash- and water-resistant but not waterproof”. So it’s ok to use it in the shower – as Apple’s CEO Tim Cook apparently does – but it’s not to be taken swimming.

Having said that, plenty of reckless reviewers have done exactly that, and we’ve yet to hear anyone complain that their watch was damaged by the experience. We don’t recommend taking the risk, and you obviously won’t have a leg to stand on with Apple if something does go wrong since they’ve been careful to only claim it’s water-resistant. But it appears that yes, the Apple Watch is waterproof.

Apple Watch review: Straps

While we’re on the subject of straps, which one should you pick to go with your beautiful Apple Watch?

compare_large2

There are a wide collection of straps to choose from, including: Link Bracelet, Sport Band, Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Modern Buckle, Milanese Loop and more recently, Nylon band and Hermes straps.

The Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle

The Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle, Woven Nylon and Sport Band options are offered in multiple colour choices while the Milanese Loop and Link Bracelet are only available in two colours. The Sport Band comes in 22 different colours including black, white, pink, yellow, blue, grey, lime green, lavender, antique white, stone and midnight blue, for example.

Apple Watch review: Screen

While doing our best to extend the watch’s battery life, we wanted to force-quit some apps and found the method of doing so deeply counterintuitive.

bands_large-copyReturning to the screen, the resolution depends on the watch you choose. The resolution of the screen on the 38mm Apple Watch (which measures 1.32 inches diagonally) is 272×340 while the 42mm model offers 312×390 on a screen that measures 1.5 inches. Both models, therefore, offer a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch, or ppi.

In both cases, the Apple Watch screen is officially rated (or perhaps we should say branded) as Retina-quality, and our subjective experience with it has been great. It’s sharp and vividly colourful and we’ve yet to notice any pixellation.

The touchscreen aspects work terrifically too: it’s highly responsive, and we found we tend to fall back on old habits, swiping through screens whenever possible by using the touchscreen even if a scrolling option is available via the Digital Crown. It ought to be as easy to quit apps and glances as it is on the iPhone – but it isn’t. To quit an app you have to press and hold the side button, and then do the same again. Nobody is going to stumble on that by accident.

Apple Watch review: User interface

edition_large

Apple’s design expertise is only a small part of what makes the Apple Watch stand out. Another factor in its favour is the user interface. The problem many current smartwatches have is that the UI is packed onto a tiny display and you need to manipulate those tiny visual elements using your fingers, which are inevitably bigger than the elements you’re trying to touch.

Below we examine Apple’s method for controlling the user interface, and the software you can expect to see on the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch review: Using the Apple Watch screen

One way to use the Watch is via the screen. You can scroll around the screen, tap on items to select them or press harder to get more options – akin to using right click on a mouse. Various gestures bring up other elements of the operating system. For example, Glances are accessed by swiping up on the watch face.

gallery_large-new2

There’s also Apple’s Force Touch technology that determines how hard you are pressing the Watch and will act accordingly. There is a difference between a hard press and a simple tap. (We discuss Force Touch in more detail below.)

Apple Watch review: Speed/performance

One possible weakness of the Apple Watch – depending on how demanding your standards are when it comes to wearable tech – could be its all-around speed. Numerous reviewers have found the interface sluggish in use and noticed a delay before certain actions.

Update 8 September 2016: It should be noted that the below section is based on the original watch and not the Series 1 or 2 which feature a 50 percent faster processor.

As with many aspects of this product, experiences have varied among the team, and it’s likely that day-to-day performance is influenced by factors such as apps and Glances currently running. It’s rare to find an app that’s near-instantaneous to respond, as they’ll open quickly but will often hang, leaving us staring at a black loading screen; and syncing processes with the iPhone, over a Bluetooth connection, can be sluggish.

We’ve also found, as have many users, that third-party apps can sometimes be slow to start up. watchOS 2 looked to speed up third-party apps by allowing them to run natively on the Apple watch, but as we mention in our watchOS 2 section of the review below, we still find apps pretty sluggish and we often give up and end up using our iPhone apps instead.

Apple Watch review: Using the Digital Crown

Apple’s solution to the navigation problem is to use something that has always been a feature of watches in a new way.

The dial on the side of the watch – its proper name is the crown – has been brought into the 21st century and turned into what Apple calls the Digital Crown. This Digital Crown solves the problem of swiping through icons on a minuscule display.

nike_alt_large-new12

Below the Digital Crown is another button. This button takes you to the home screen and to the Friends app, from which you can contact your friends (more on that below). This button is also used when you’re paying for things using Apple Pay (more on that below, also).

Apple Watch review: Battery life

Apple claims that on a typical day, with typical usage, you should get 18 hours of battery life from the Apple Watch. In other words, you ought to be able to get through a whole day, but that will be about it: expect to charge it every night. (Which, incidentally, rules out being able to sleep with the watch on – which is likely to be a disappointment to developers of sleep-related apps.)

apple-watch-charging
In fact, your use may vary. Apple’s ‘typical day’ included a half-hour workout, but if you exercise more than that you may use up the battery quicker – in Apple’s tests, the battery lasted 6.5 hours during a workout (so you should at least be able to run that marathon without running out of battery). If you use the Apple Watch to play music you will also find that to be a bit of a battery hog. Apple got 6.5 hours of audio playback out of the test device before it ran out of power.

Apple Watch review: Apple Watch UK price

Pricing varies depending on the watch and strap you choose. For more information about Watch prices, read our Apple Watch buying advice.

The Apple Watch price starts at £259 in the UK; that’s for the 38mm Apple Watch Sport with a plastic band, and £299 for the 42mm version. The stainless steel Apple Watch starts at £479 and the newer Apple Watch Hermes starts at £1000, while the 18-carat gold Apple Watch Edition starts at an eye-watering £8,000.

OUR VERDICT

The Apple Watch isn’t the first ever smartwatch, and it doesn’t really do anything rival products don’t do. But what it does do, it does as well as any smartwatch out there, thanks to Apple’s user interface expertise. It’s a slick device to use, although you should be warned that it isn’t completely intuitive, particularly at first. With use it will become more familiar and user-friendly.

Categories
battery

A Refined Seattle Restaurant, Hold the Table Linens

Apple Watch review: Design

For a slightly more opinionated version of the video review above, here’s the male half of the Macworld team arguing (after four months with this device) about whether the Apple Watch is a great or a terrible product:

The Apple Watch is beautifully designed and engineered, with a great look and feel. It’s chunky, rounded body is faintly reminiscent of the original iPhone, yet simultaneously modern-looking and very satisfying to hold. The Apple Watch is also pleasingly comfortable on the wrist.

hermes_largeWe’ve seen lots of fitness trackers over the years, and they’ve typically struck us as pretty formulaic: plasticky wristbands with little fashion appeal. One activity tracker brand tried to convince us that their activity tracker was designed to appeal to a fashion-conscious woman; they even thought that women would wear it around their neck like a necklace. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t jewellery. None of the fitness trackers on the market are.

It’s a similar story with smartwatches. Sure, over the past year they’ve become more and more popular with guys looking for the latest tech gadget, but they don’t appeal to everyone. One major issue is that most smartwatches are designed for men. They wouldn’t sit comfortably on a smaller wrist.

Apple Watch review: Dimensions

There are two sizes of watch: the 38mm model (which actually measures 38.6 by 33.3 mm) and the 42mm model (which measures 42 by 35.9 mm). Both have a thickness of 10.5mm.

  • 38mm model: 38.6 x 33.3 x 10.5mm
  • 42mm model: 42.0 x 35.9 x 10.5mm

Here’s how a 38mm Apple Watch looks on Karen’s wrist:

slide-1

Apple Watch review: Build quality

Speaking of the materials the watch is made from, there are three options: aluminium for the Watch Sport, stainless steel for the Watch, and 18-carat gold for the Watch Edition. The Watch and Watch Edition come with sapphire screens, the Sport version with ion-x glass.

pexels-photo-28222We love the look and feel of the Apple Watch. As we mentioned above, it looks a bit like a shrunk-down version of the original iPhone, and it’s reassuringly robust – after almost a year with the Watch, there no scratches on the body or screen, although the brighter of our two Sport Band straps is starting to look a bit grubby.

Apple doesn’t recommend dunking your Apple Watch first-gen in water. While the watch is rated as water-resistant to the IPX7 standard, which should mean it will survive in water up to a depth of 1 metre for up to 30 minutes, Apple describes it as “splash- and water-resistant but not waterproof”. So it’s ok to use it in the shower – as Apple’s CEO Tim Cook apparently does – but it’s not to be taken swimming.

Having said that, plenty of reckless reviewers have done exactly that, and we’ve yet to hear anyone complain that their watch was damaged by the experience. We don’t recommend taking the risk, and you obviously won’t have a leg to stand on with Apple if something does go wrong since they’ve been careful to only claim it’s water-resistant. But it appears that yes, the Apple Watch is waterproof.

Apple Watch review: Straps

While we’re on the subject of straps, which one should you pick to go with your beautiful Apple Watch?

compare_large2

There are a wide collection of straps to choose from, including: Link Bracelet, Sport Band, Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Modern Buckle, Milanese Loop and more recently, Nylon band and Hermes straps.

The Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle

The Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle, Woven Nylon and Sport Band options are offered in multiple colour choices while the Milanese Loop and Link Bracelet are only available in two colours. The Sport Band comes in 22 different colours including black, white, pink, yellow, blue, grey, lime green, lavender, antique white, stone and midnight blue, for example.

Apple Watch review: Screen

While doing our best to extend the watch’s battery life, we wanted to force-quit some apps and found the method of doing so deeply counterintuitive.

bands_large-copyReturning to the screen, the resolution depends on the watch you choose. The resolution of the screen on the 38mm Apple Watch (which measures 1.32 inches diagonally) is 272×340 while the 42mm model offers 312×390 on a screen that measures 1.5 inches. Both models, therefore, offer a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch, or ppi.

In both cases, the Apple Watch screen is officially rated (or perhaps we should say branded) as Retina-quality, and our subjective experience with it has been great. It’s sharp and vividly colourful and we’ve yet to notice any pixellation.

The touchscreen aspects work terrifically too: it’s highly responsive, and we found we tend to fall back on old habits, swiping through screens whenever possible by using the touchscreen even if a scrolling option is available via the Digital Crown. It ought to be as easy to quit apps and glances as it is on the iPhone – but it isn’t. To quit an app you have to press and hold the side button, and then do the same again. Nobody is going to stumble on that by accident.

Apple Watch review: User interface

edition_large

Apple’s design expertise is only a small part of what makes the Apple Watch stand out. Another factor in its favour is the user interface. The problem many current smartwatches have is that the UI is packed onto a tiny display and you need to manipulate those tiny visual elements using your fingers, which are inevitably bigger than the elements you’re trying to touch.

Below we examine Apple’s method for controlling the user interface, and the software you can expect to see on the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch review: Using the Apple Watch screen

One way to use the Watch is via the screen. You can scroll around the screen, tap on items to select them or press harder to get more options – akin to using right click on a mouse. Various gestures bring up other elements of the operating system. For example, Glances are accessed by swiping up on the watch face.

gallery_large-new2

There’s also Apple’s Force Touch technology that determines how hard you are pressing the Watch and will act accordingly. There is a difference between a hard press and a simple tap. (We discuss Force Touch in more detail below.)

Apple Watch review: Speed/performance

One possible weakness of the Apple Watch – depending on how demanding your standards are when it comes to wearable tech – could be its all-around speed. Numerous reviewers have found the interface sluggish in use and noticed a delay before certain actions.

Update 8 September 2016: It should be noted that the below section is based on the original watch and not the Series 1 or 2 which feature a 50 percent faster processor.

As with many aspects of this product, experiences have varied among the team, and it’s likely that day-to-day performance is influenced by factors such as apps and Glances currently running. It’s rare to find an app that’s near-instantaneous to respond, as they’ll open quickly but will often hang, leaving us staring at a black loading screen; and syncing processes with the iPhone, over a Bluetooth connection, can be sluggish.

We’ve also found, as have many users, that third-party apps can sometimes be slow to start up. watchOS 2 looked to speed up third-party apps by allowing them to run natively on the Apple watch, but as we mention in our watchOS 2 section of the review below, we still find apps pretty sluggish and we often give up and end up using our iPhone apps instead.

Apple Watch review: Using the Digital Crown

Apple’s solution to the navigation problem is to use something that has always been a feature of watches in a new way.

The dial on the side of the watch – its proper name is the crown – has been brought into the 21st century and turned into what Apple calls the Digital Crown. This Digital Crown solves the problem of swiping through icons on a minuscule display.

nike_alt_large-new12

Below the Digital Crown is another button. This button takes you to the home screen and to the Friends app, from which you can contact your friends (more on that below). This button is also used when you’re paying for things using Apple Pay (more on that below, also).

Apple Watch review: Battery life

Apple claims that on a typical day, with typical usage, you should get 18 hours of battery life from the Apple Watch. In other words, you ought to be able to get through a whole day, but that will be about it: expect to charge it every night. (Which, incidentally, rules out being able to sleep with the watch on – which is likely to be a disappointment to developers of sleep-related apps.)

apple-watch-charging
In fact, your use may vary. Apple’s ‘typical day’ included a half-hour workout, but if you exercise more than that you may use up the battery quicker – in Apple’s tests, the battery lasted 6.5 hours during a workout (so you should at least be able to run that marathon without running out of battery). If you use the Apple Watch to play music you will also find that to be a bit of a battery hog. Apple got 6.5 hours of audio playback out of the test device before it ran out of power.

Apple Watch review: Apple Watch UK price

Pricing varies depending on the watch and strap you choose. For more information about Watch prices, read our Apple Watch buying advice.

The Apple Watch price starts at £259 in the UK; that’s for the 38mm Apple Watch Sport with a plastic band, and £299 for the 42mm version. The stainless steel Apple Watch starts at £479 and the newer Apple Watch Hermes starts at £1000, while the 18-carat gold Apple Watch Edition starts at an eye-watering £8,000.

OUR VERDICT

The Apple Watch isn’t the first ever smartwatch, and it doesn’t really do anything rival products don’t do. But what it does do, it does as well as any smartwatch out there, thanks to Apple’s user interface expertise. It’s a slick device to use, although you should be warned that it isn’t completely intuitive, particularly at first. With use it will become more familiar and user-friendly.

Categories
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New Heroes of the Storm Characters Bring Portals

Apple Watch review: Design

For a slightly more opinionated version of the video review above, here’s the male half of the Macworld team arguing (after four months with this device) about whether the Apple Watch is a great or a terrible product:

The Apple Watch is beautifully designed and engineered, with a great look and feel. It’s chunky, rounded body is faintly reminiscent of the original iPhone, yet simultaneously modern-looking and very satisfying to hold. The Apple Watch is also pleasingly comfortable on the wrist.

hermes_largeWe’ve seen lots of fitness trackers over the years, and they’ve typically struck us as pretty formulaic: plasticky wristbands with little fashion appeal. One activity tracker brand tried to convince us that their activity tracker was designed to appeal to a fashion-conscious woman; they even thought that women would wear it around their neck like a necklace. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t jewellery. None of the fitness trackers on the market are.

It’s a similar story with smartwatches. Sure, over the past year they’ve become more and more popular with guys looking for the latest tech gadget, but they don’t appeal to everyone. One major issue is that most smartwatches are designed for men. They wouldn’t sit comfortably on a smaller wrist.

Apple Watch review: Dimensions

There are two sizes of watch: the 38mm model (which actually measures 38.6 by 33.3 mm) and the 42mm model (which measures 42 by 35.9 mm). Both have a thickness of 10.5mm.

  • 38mm model: 38.6 x 33.3 x 10.5mm
  • 42mm model: 42.0 x 35.9 x 10.5mm

Here’s how a 38mm Apple Watch looks on Karen’s wrist:

slide-1

Apple Watch review: Build quality

Speaking of the materials the watch is made from, there are three options: aluminium for the Watch Sport, stainless steel for the Watch, and 18-carat gold for the Watch Edition. The Watch and Watch Edition come with sapphire screens, the Sport version with ion-x glass.

pexels-photo-28222We love the look and feel of the Apple Watch. As we mentioned above, it looks a bit like a shrunk-down version of the original iPhone, and it’s reassuringly robust – after almost a year with the Watch, there no scratches on the body or screen, although the brighter of our two Sport Band straps is starting to look a bit grubby.

Apple doesn’t recommend dunking your Apple Watch first-gen in water. While the watch is rated as water-resistant to the IPX7 standard, which should mean it will survive in water up to a depth of 1 metre for up to 30 minutes, Apple describes it as “splash- and water-resistant but not waterproof”. So it’s ok to use it in the shower – as Apple’s CEO Tim Cook apparently does – but it’s not to be taken swimming.

Having said that, plenty of reckless reviewers have done exactly that, and we’ve yet to hear anyone complain that their watch was damaged by the experience. We don’t recommend taking the risk, and you obviously won’t have a leg to stand on with Apple if something does go wrong since they’ve been careful to only claim it’s water-resistant. But it appears that yes, the Apple Watch is waterproof.

Apple Watch review: Straps

While we’re on the subject of straps, which one should you pick to go with your beautiful Apple Watch?

compare_large2

There are a wide collection of straps to choose from, including: Link Bracelet, Sport Band, Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Modern Buckle, Milanese Loop and more recently, Nylon band and Hermes straps.

The Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle

The Leather Loop, Classic Buckle, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle, Woven Nylon and Sport Band options are offered in multiple colour choices while the Milanese Loop and Link Bracelet are only available in two colours. The Sport Band comes in 22 different colours including black, white, pink, yellow, blue, grey, lime green, lavender, antique white, stone and midnight blue, for example.

Apple Watch review: Screen

While doing our best to extend the watch’s battery life, we wanted to force-quit some apps and found the method of doing so deeply counterintuitive.

bands_large-copyReturning to the screen, the resolution depends on the watch you choose. The resolution of the screen on the 38mm Apple Watch (which measures 1.32 inches diagonally) is 272×340 while the 42mm model offers 312×390 on a screen that measures 1.5 inches. Both models, therefore, offer a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch, or ppi.

In both cases, the Apple Watch screen is officially rated (or perhaps we should say branded) as Retina-quality, and our subjective experience with it has been great. It’s sharp and vividly colourful and we’ve yet to notice any pixellation.

The touchscreen aspects work terrifically too: it’s highly responsive, and we found we tend to fall back on old habits, swiping through screens whenever possible by using the touchscreen even if a scrolling option is available via the Digital Crown. It ought to be as easy to quit apps and glances as it is on the iPhone – but it isn’t. To quit an app you have to press and hold the side button, and then do the same again. Nobody is going to stumble on that by accident.

Apple Watch review: User interface

edition_large

Apple’s design expertise is only a small part of what makes the Apple Watch stand out. Another factor in its favour is the user interface. The problem many current smartwatches have is that the UI is packed onto a tiny display and you need to manipulate those tiny visual elements using your fingers, which are inevitably bigger than the elements you’re trying to touch.

Below we examine Apple’s method for controlling the user interface, and the software you can expect to see on the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch review: Using the Apple Watch screen

One way to use the Watch is via the screen. You can scroll around the screen, tap on items to select them or press harder to get more options – akin to using right click on a mouse. Various gestures bring up other elements of the operating system. For example, Glances are accessed by swiping up on the watch face.

gallery_large-new2

There’s also Apple’s Force Touch technology that determines how hard you are pressing the Watch and will act accordingly. There is a difference between a hard press and a simple tap. (We discuss Force Touch in more detail below.)

Apple Watch review: Speed/performance

One possible weakness of the Apple Watch – depending on how demanding your standards are when it comes to wearable tech – could be its all-around speed. Numerous reviewers have found the interface sluggish in use and noticed a delay before certain actions.

Update 8 September 2016: It should be noted that the below section is based on the original watch and not the Series 1 or 2 which feature a 50 percent faster processor.

As with many aspects of this product, experiences have varied among the team, and it’s likely that day-to-day performance is influenced by factors such as apps and Glances currently running. It’s rare to find an app that’s near-instantaneous to respond, as they’ll open quickly but will often hang, leaving us staring at a black loading screen; and syncing processes with the iPhone, over a Bluetooth connection, can be sluggish.

We’ve also found, as have many users, that third-party apps can sometimes be slow to start up. watchOS 2 looked to speed up third-party apps by allowing them to run natively on the Apple watch, but as we mention in our watchOS 2 section of the review below, we still find apps pretty sluggish and we often give up and end up using our iPhone apps instead.

Apple Watch review: Using the Digital Crown

Apple’s solution to the navigation problem is to use something that has always been a feature of watches in a new way.

The dial on the side of the watch – its proper name is the crown – has been brought into the 21st century and turned into what Apple calls the Digital Crown. This Digital Crown solves the problem of swiping through icons on a minuscule display.

nike_alt_large-new12

Below the Digital Crown is another button. This button takes you to the home screen and to the Friends app, from which you can contact your friends (more on that below). This button is also used when you’re paying for things using Apple Pay (more on that below, also).

Apple Watch review: Battery life

Apple claims that on a typical day, with typical usage, you should get 18 hours of battery life from the Apple Watch. In other words, you ought to be able to get through a whole day, but that will be about it: expect to charge it every night. (Which, incidentally, rules out being able to sleep with the watch on – which is likely to be a disappointment to developers of sleep-related apps.)

apple-watch-charging
In fact, your use may vary. Apple’s ‘typical day’ included a half-hour workout, but if you exercise more than that you may use up the battery quicker – in Apple’s tests, the battery lasted 6.5 hours during a workout (so you should at least be able to run that marathon without running out of battery). If you use the Apple Watch to play music you will also find that to be a bit of a battery hog. Apple got 6.5 hours of audio playback out of the test device before it ran out of power.

Apple Watch review: Apple Watch UK price

Pricing varies depending on the watch and strap you choose. For more information about Watch prices, read our Apple Watch buying advice.

The Apple Watch price starts at £259 in the UK; that’s for the 38mm Apple Watch Sport with a plastic band, and £299 for the 42mm version. The stainless steel Apple Watch starts at £479 and the newer Apple Watch Hermes starts at £1000, while the 18-carat gold Apple Watch Edition starts at an eye-watering £8,000.

OUR VERDICT

The Apple Watch isn’t the first ever smartwatch, and it doesn’t really do anything rival products don’t do. But what it does do, it does as well as any smartwatch out there, thanks to Apple’s user interface expertise. It’s a slick device to use, although you should be warned that it isn’t completely intuitive, particularly at first. With use it will become more familiar and user-friendly.