Razer Nabu Watch Review
Smartwatches have come a long way. They started out as a notification platform for messages, emails, missed calls and other simple tasks. Over time they gradually became smarter, with added functionality to the point where a wrist-mounted device could reflect your digital lifestyle. Razer is pitching the Nabu as a regular watch that’s smarter. At $149, the Nabu is much cheaper than alternatives from Motorola, Samsung, Huawei and Apple.
At first glance, the Nabu resembles a G-SHOCK. Its form is a throwback to watches of the past rather than the sleek designs that other smartwatches have. On closer inspection, you'll find green accents around the body—including the four primary side buttons—that reference Razer’s own design language. The outer shell is coated with a rubber surface that feels solid but is definitely prone to scratches from occasional bumps. The watch display, though, remains scratch free, although cleaning the surface of the display is a challenge.
Razer claims a 5 ATM water resistant rating, meaning the Nabu is basically waterproof for most daily tasks, and it held up well in our testing. There are pins for the Nabu's proprietary USB-based magnetic charger on the bottom and, while this may seem like a surefire way to short out the charging mechanism with sweat, our reviewer didn’t experience any problems after weeks of intense workouts.
The Nabu has four grippy side buttons and a home button, though Razer also sells a Forged Edition of the Nabu with machined stainless steel buttons for $200. The dual clasps do a great job holding the wrist band in place and it's comfortable to wear a Nabu for the whole day. While it looks substantial, the watch is actually lighter than it appears to be.
The Digital Chronograph is pretty straight forward. The centre matrix display shows the time including the seconds counting. The top display showcases the date along with a day letter and a Bluetooth indicator to notify you if the Nabu Watch is paired to your phone. Unfortunately, the brightness of the chronograph is too low and that requires you to power up the light even in darker settings. The font for the numbers could also be clearer. The 128 x 16 OLED display remains off until you bring the watch upwards into view, which saves battery power.
Razer offers a Nabu app for both Android and iOS. Once the app islaunched, you have to set up an account with Razer, add the Nabu Watch in the app and follow up with the rest of the process. The app includes the ability to update the watch's firmware, customize your apps, vibrations, and notifications, and personalize the display.
The Nabu Watch also acts as a fitness tracker. It's not as advanced as the the Adidas Fit Smart that we reviewed recently, but it still tracks your daily steps, distance travelled, calories burned, how active you are and how well you’ve slept. The Nabu's tracking did well, though the watch is a bit bulky when compared to other fitness trackers.
In all, using the Nabu is a pleasing experience. It doesn't have as many features as a Moto 360 or an Apple Watch, but it's much cheaper and still pretty smart. Our reviewer monitored his sleep, got up-to-the-minute Twitter mentions, and even Uber notifications on his Nabu—and the app includes even more options. The battery life is pretty good, too—the regular digital chronograph is set to last for about 12 months and the smart module lasts about a week. The one thing that seems to be missing is any type of integration for gamers. The Nabu app and watch don’t include any gaming-oriented features even though Razer says it is "wearable for gamers" – it actually says that on the product's webpage.
Razer has created a very affordable answer to the smartwatch competition with the Nabu Watch. The design language is not for everyone but the smart module works despite the tiny notification screen. The Nabu app is one of the best ones we've tested and the battery life is excellent. The next generation of smartwatches have a lot to match with this low-cost, high-quality competitor.
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