It’s no secret that many of the biggest names in tech have been committing some serious time and money into attempts to enter the smartwatch market—but, that said, some of these companies are being rather secretive about the products themselves. Apple’s iWatch is perhaps the most prominent example of a heavily rumoured but officially non-existent device that already has the tech world buzzing, but they’re far from alone in having wearable projects up their sleeve. It seems that a slow trickle of information is a good way of slowly building hype for a new device, and that’s just what Acer have done with their newly-unveiled smartwatch, the Liquid Leap.
Over the course of the past decade or so, Acer have gone from being a minor PC manufacturer to an increasingly prominent name on the wider technology marketplace. Being built from the beginning with a multinational outlook, thanks in no small part to the partnership between offices in Taiwan and the United States that sparked its massive international growth as a company, Acer has found its place as an emerging power in consumer electronics. With that in mind, it makes complete sense that wearable technology is the obvious next step for them; this sort of product looks set to be one of the major battlegrounds for competing tech companies for the decade ahead.
What seems rather less obvious is the particular strategy that Acer are carrying out with the Liquid Leap. In the past, the first smartwatch product from a major hardware manufacturer has typically been something of a top dipped into the water rather than a cannonball directly into the pool. These devices have sometimes focussed on one particular niche audience, or simply attempted to be a standard smartwatch that accomplishes the basics before being iterated into something more unique. Acer have elected to forgo these cautious first steps, developing the Liquid Leap with the intent of it being a completely fully featured device that will immediately set itself apart from the ever-growing crowd and, as such, hit the ground running.
Even to look at, the Liquid Leap doesn’t seem like the first attempt at a new kind of device by a company. It has a very distinct look of its own, displaying the confidence to divert from the norm and try something new. Display size and shape is something that plenty of smartwatches tinker with in order to offer something new, but the oblong screen on the Liquid Leap is something rather unique to the device. It’s clear that the screen is the foundation of this device; it’s size and shape is crucial to the both its physical design and, of course, the way that it carries out its functions as a smartwatch. It’s worlds away from some of the larger screens that other manufacturers are using to set their products apart, but this is integral to the overall intention of what the Liquid Leap sets out to do for its user.
Having a longer, thinner screen means that it can fit flush to the slight wristband that the device utilises. It seems that the designers at Acer were set on this device being completely agreeable for anyone to wear on a daily basis. This isn’t something that’s designed for the gadget enthusiast who doesn’t care about how it looks on the wrist, but at the same time it’s not designed for someone who wants their smartwatch to be an attention-grabbing statement piece. The physical design of the Liquid Leap has been executed such that it fades into the background until you need to use the device. This is a smartwatch for anyone who doesn’t particularly want to be constantly reminded that they’re wearing a smartwatch. It’s gender neutral, it won’t look out of place whether you’re in the office or sat on the beach, and there’s enough colour options to fit anyone’s personal preferences.
Another benefit to the minimalist physical design of the Liquid Leap is that it helps the information that you receive on screen stand out all the more. Given that the display is a simple monochrome readout, legibility is a very important factor—even more so given that there isn’t as much usable space on offer as some other devices out there. However, what space is available for use is used to the fullest, with clear typography and well-crafted iconography giving you all the information you need at a moment’s notice. The sort of information that your Liquid Leap will be relaying to you is rather varied, delivering all the basics of a smartwatch as well as a few more specific bits of functionality. Exercise tracking is growing by leaps and bounds, and the fact that the small form factor of this device is somewhat reminiscent of dedicated fitness trackers makes it an obvious course of action to include tracking features. A well-made app will allow you to set goals, track your performance and all the other basics of exercise tracking from your smartphone, having paired it with the Liquid Leap via Bluetooth. Lots of different devices offer this sort of functionality, but it has to be said that it’s particularly well implemented here, as well as being rather in-depth. It would have been easy for Acer to throw a couple of superficial bits of exercise functionality onto their device and call it another feather in its cap, but it seems that this aspect of the project has really been given the attention it needs to grow into something that will sell the product.
With it’s pretty comprehensive suite of fitness tracking features as well as it’s well-implemented take on smartwatch basics, the Liquid Leap by Acer could well prove to be a big deal in the smartwatch market when it makes its way to stores later this year. While there hasn’t been any firm word on pricing for the device, it’s thought that it won’t retail for any more than £99—rather competitive pricing for a device that does a lot. Equally as intriguing to someone who has never owned a smartwatch as it is to the veteran smartwatch user looking for a device that does it all, it’s well worth keeping an eye on the Liquid Leap as more about the device is revealed over the coming months. For more information about the device as it comes, you can keep up to date on the official Acer website.