Taiwanese PC and mobility brand Asus has this morning confirmed that Bing Lee will be the first retailer to sell its highly anticipated new ZenWatch smartwatch. The ZenWatch will also be available online directly from Asus and at the Google Play store. The ZenWatch is RRP $289.
Running Google’s Android Wear smartwatch operating systems, which means it can connect and work with nearly all current Android smartphones, the ZenWatch has a 1.63-inch AMOLED square-shaped touchscreen (320 x 320) framed in durable stainless steel that binds to the wrist via an elegant stitched leather rose gold strap. The strap and the watch faces are interchangeable so users can customise the ZenWatch to suit their mood.
“Combining sophisticated sensors with all-day comfort, Asus ZenWatch is also a personal wellness manager that tracks a variety of wellness statistics, such as heart rate, step counts and relaxation levels to help wearers keep their lives in balance and achieve personal fitness goals,” an Asus spokesperson told me.
The ZenWatch will work with smartphones running Android 4.3 or higher. Once paired, users will be able to view incoming calls, messages and notifications at their wrist. One handy feature is Cover To Mute, in which a user can observe who is calling their phone by glancing at their ZenWatch and, if they do not want to answer the call, they simply place their hand over the watchface. This would come in handy on public transport when you neither want to take a call nor want to disturb other passengers by letting the phone ring out.
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It is somewhat unusual for a regionally focused retailer like Bing Lee to be singled out for a retail launch. Bing Lee lists 41 retail outlets on its website, 40 of which are in New South Wales or the Australian Capital Territory. The other store is in Wodonga, just over the Murray River in Victoria. Normally when technology companies partner with a retailer for a launch, it is with a national chain like Harvey Norman or The Good Guys, or with a national group, like Narta (of which Bing Lee is a member).
UPDATE: We asked Asus if other retailers will have the chance to sell the ZenWatch and, considering the New South Wales-centric nature of Bing Lee, if there will be any major coverage in the other states. Asus responded that “there are no other retailers planned at this stage” and that national coverage will be from online sales.