The first quarter of 2017 wasn’t particularly encouraging for the smartwatch industry, leading some to wonder if the whole concept might perhaps go the way of the Laser Disc and the Nintendo Virtual Boy.
As a matter of fact, Huawei CEO Eric Xu Zhijun would go on to opine that he personally didn’t see the point of smartwatches.
Fortunately for smartwatch-philes, most manufacturers did not pay heed to Zhijun’s words and a number of new takes on the idea of a smartwatch have arrived on the market over the course of this year. The Diesel ON DZT1006 — branded as a hybrid smartwatch — is one such take and retails at Rs 16,795.
A word of warning before you proceed: The phrase ‘hybrid smartwatch’ isn’t just a term created to market the DZT1006 as something cool. It is an analog watch with a few smart elements to it. Diesel also has a range of conventional smartwatches.
Now on with the review.
Build and Design: 9/10
The Fossil-manufactured Diesel ON series comprises a variety of different models, including the mid-range DZT1006 reviewed. Snazzy packaging is de rigueur for Diesel products and upon unboxing the watch from its appropriately snazzy case, it’s the size of the DZT1006 that is the first thing you’ll notice.
Measuring 47 mm across and 17 mm in thickness, this is once chunky piece of kit. With its reported weight of around 249 grams — that’s a quarter of a kilogram, in case you were wondering — mental images of lugging a rock along by the wrist briefly flashed through the mind. Slap it on your wrist though, and it’s a different story altogether, because the DZT1006 is perfectly weighted.
The sloping bezels make the watch appear a lot smaller than it actually is, and the weight ceases to be an issue. The 23-mm silicone strap is wide, yet sits comfortably on the wrist. However, it needs to be pointed out that from an aesthetic standpoint, this isn’t the watch for you if you have thin wrists.
And once the conundrum of whether or not your wrists are too dainty has been addressed, you’ll soon discover the DZT1006’s build: It’s built like a veritable tank. During the time the watch was being reviewed, it suffered a few unfortunate bumps and scrapes — none of which left so much as a scratch on the device.
The watchface itself is a glorious celebration of fonts, text sizes, textures and the colours black, white and red. There’s a little dial that belies its size and adequately conveys distance walked and a few alerts. Another aspect worth highlighting is the crown and the buttons above and below it. In isolation, the crown would seem oddly large and protruding, however with the buttons, it appears deceptively compact and aesthetically pleasing. The added width — to an already wide watch — is barely noticeable.
Bearing in mind that this is a hybrid smartwatch, it would be unfair to hold it to the same standards as a conventional smartwatch in the features department. So let’s look at what it does have under the hood.
The DZT1006 has an activity tracker on board and can connect to Android and Apple smartwatches via Bluetooth, using the Diesel ON app (more on this later). Hybrid smartwatches will and do have their limitations considering the absence of a screen. That said, there are a few features that would have been useful and possibly even feasible, which would have gone some way in improving the DZT1006’s mark in this category.
A heart rate monitor and a tiny LCD strip on the watch face (more on the need for this later) would have gone a long way.
The Diesel ON app — available in the App Story and Google Play — does the simple things well and that makes it a very good companion for the DZT1006. Once you’ve set yourself targets, your activity and sleep patterns are mapped out graphically by day, week and month on the app, and these graphs are easily accessible and comparable.
Further, it’s through this app that you can programme the DZT1006 to do a few things — ranging from remotely taking a photograph to controlling your music — with its buttons. Additionally, it’s here that you can assign notifications to contacts and apps.
Expectedly, there’s no possibility of adding any apps or downloading any further functions on the Diesel ON app, but that’s what you get with a hybrid smartwatch.
Performance and usability: 6/10
The process of setting up a wearable and its associated software is getting more facile with every new wearable that arrives on the market. So it goes without saying that setting up the app and calibrating the watch is as easy as it gets.
Once you’ve got it up and running, it’s time to set up notifications. The Diesel ON app gives you the option of selecting different contacts, apps and alerts that your watch will recognise. Unfortunately, the number of contacts, apps and types of alerts (phone call, WhatsApp message, SMS) you can select is limited to six.
But we’ll get back to this after looking at how the DZT1006 tells you who is trying to contact you. Once you’ve pruned your list of contacts to the six most important ones and added said sextet, you just have to wait for one of them to get in touch. Once one of them does so, the hands of the watch move to numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 on the dial — depending on who is calling. Similarly, if it’s a phone call from someone not on your list of six favourite contacts, the hands will move to the number you’ve allocated to phone calls.
The biggest problem here (as briefly alluded to earlier) is that even if you remember who your six contacts are and what number they’ve been assigned, you will need to check your phone if anyone else is trying to get in touch. And chances are, there are more than six people in the world who will seek to contact you. This is where a tiny LCD strip would have made life simpler. The number/contact’s name would flash on there and you’d know who it was without having to check your phone. After all, isn’t one of the key purposes of a smartwatch to reduce time spent checking your phone?
Elsewhere, the remote camera function works reasonably well and the range from which you can issue an order for your phone to take a picture depends purely on the strength of your Bluetooth link. Speaking of which, in the two weeks spent with the watch, no instance of Bluetooth link severance was detected.
The activity tracker seems to be fairly accurate. That is to say that it did not count instances of travelling on a bumpy road by rickshaw as walking. Neither did it construe random arm movements to be steps.
Battery life: 10/10
Once again, it’s worth remembering that this is a hybrid smartwatch and so, its battery usage is going to be nowhere near as much as a conventional smartwatch. According to the manufacturers, the normal watch battery on which the DZT1006 runs can last for upto six months — at which point, it simply needs to be replaced. Popping upon the back plate of the watch is easy thanks to the key provided in the box and battery-replacement equally so.
For users unaccustomed to the idea of charging a watch every night, this will seem like business as usual.
Verdict and Price in India
The DZT1006 is pleasing on the eye — much less so, if you have thin wrists — and does what it’s meant to adequately. Unfortunately, with a fairly high price tag of Rs 16,795, what it does might not adequately match its price. High-end conventional smartwatches are available for just a couple of thousand rupees or so more. Or if its analog you’re after, you can get some fantastic analog watches for this price.
However, if you are among the group of people who would like a bit of smartness from your watch (but not too much) and don’t fancy the idea of having another device that comes with all the baggage of a smartphone (the need to charge, software updates, crashes, outdated OS etc), then this comes highly recommended for you.