The nice guys over at APUS have kindly sent me an OLED watch for review. This is their Alpha Dark Force, which uses a blue PMOLED (they have other watches that use red or white PMOLEDs). APUS are selling the phones on-line in their web shop. The watches are also available in Amazon.com. The Alpha Dark Force, shown above costs $129.
When you first take it out of the box, you notice something strange - the display is off. Then you realize that that's how it's supposed to be - the watch does not display anything until you press a button. Then it shows you the time for a few seconds, and turns off again. APUS say that this is to preserve the battery, which will drain in a couple of days if the display will be always on. More on this later.
The watch itself is very metallic. Kind of an industrial design, with 4 large screws on the top plate. Some people think that these are buttons, but they are not. There are two buttons on the left side. The watch is rather big, but I got used to it very quickly.
There's no paper manual bundled with the watch- but you have a small CD that includes all the information you need. If this is done to preserve paper, than here's another suggestion: ditch the CD, and just print a link to the online manual. I can't imagine anyone buying an OLED watch and not having internet access.
The feature list is pretty basic: you get a time display (24h or AM/PM), a date and day-of-the-week display, two alarms, a countdown timer / stopwatch and a 2nd time zone.
What people say
There's one sure thing about the APUS OLED watch: people notice it. I'm wearing it for about a week now, and get a lot of comments about it, for better and for worse. The first thing that people notice is that it's not displaying the time. So they ask why is that, and then I show them the OLED display, and explain that it drains the battery. People usually just blink when I start talking about OLEDs, but it was nice to get the attention. Anyone who actually listened to my long explanation of how OLEDs work and why they're great, asked why there isn't a big 'OLED' written all over it. I can't agree more: it's on the of the big selling points of this watch, so why not show it off?
I asked everybody whether they like the design, and some say they do, and some say they don't. It's a matter of personal taste of course. My 5 years old niece was very impressed when she saw it for the first time, and asked whether it can shoot lasers...
The OLED itself is a small blue dot-matrix PMOLED display. It is very bright and I really like it. I also like the way it keep advancing the seconds while it is on, really cool.
It's a real shame that the OLED is only used to show the time (and date, counter, alarm, etc.). If you have a nice blue dot-matrix OLED, why not show some nice graphics, a small game?
When I tell people that OLEDs are great - they are efficient, bright, thin, and can even be made transparent or flexible, the next question is: so why isn't it so on this watch? And while transparent/flexible OLEDs are still not available, it's true that this watch isn't designed at all like a futuristic one...
The OLED in direct sunlight
One of the disadvantages of OLEDs is the poor sunlight visibility. And the APUS watch is no exception - it is totally useless in the direct sunlight. Of course when you use your hand to shield it you can still view the time, but the OLED is no match to a strong sun (and we have a strong one here in Israel in August). It's interesting to compare it to the Phosphor E Ink watch I reviewed a few months ago, which looks the best in direct sunlight:
First of all, this is a watch, and whether you like it or not is a matter of taste. After asking a lot of people, I know that some like, and some do not. But in any case, if you want to get attention, then this is a great choice - a lot of people will ask you what's up with that watch!
As a watch it works great - it shows the time in 2 zones, calendar, two alarms and a countdown timer / stopwatch. And sunlight visibility is very poor, so you might not be able to see it outside. In the dark it behaves great - in fact very very bright. You might find it too bright during the night...
Having to press a button and wait for a second before the watch displays the time can be very annoying. But it also stops you from checking the time every minute (yeah, sometimes I'm like that) which is nice, really.