During Tech World 2015, Lenovo showed off a new concept smartwatch dubbed the Magic View that boasts a second LCD display. This allows the user to view magnified images by holding it up to their eye like a futuristic nickelodeon. We checked out a prototype of this intriguing new device on the Tech World showroom floor. Read on for our early verdict.
At first glance, the Lenovo Magic View looks a lot like the Moto 360 which Lenovo recently snapped up via its acquisition of Motorola. It has a similarly large round metal face and fetching leather strap that helped make the 360 one of the better looking smartwatches on the market.
Naturally, you can choose from a wide range of clock face "wallpapers" to suit your personal style preference or to class things up on special occasions. (We were particularly enamored with the fancy Swiss-like option pictured above.)
So far, this is nothing you can't already get from the existing Moto 360 range. However, the Magic View distinguishes itself via a virtual interactive display (VID) tucked beneath the watch face. The concept isn't hugely dissimilar to wearables such as Samsung's VR Gear and the semi-aborted Google Glass.
However, instead of strapping something to your face you simply hold the display up to your eye as needed. Imagine peering through a keyhole on your arm and you've got a pretty good idea of how it works.
The miniature display is controlled via finger gestures on the watch face; you simply fire up an app and then flick downwards to load it into the secondary screen. During our brief demo, we checked out a handful of prototype applications including a media player, a 3D panorama view of cities powered by the watch's accelerometer, a tun-by-turn GPS map and complex informational displays that couldn't hope to fit on a smartwatch display.
You can check out some of these applications in action in the below video:
We're not going to lie: using this thing in public will probably make you feel extremely silly. Mind you, squinting at the tiny text on your smartwatch face isn't a particularly good look either. This is the chief advantage of Magic View -- it eliminates the problem of restrictively small UIs that plague most smartwatches (not to mention glare from the sun). It uses optical reflection to create a virtual image 20 times larger than the watch face display. It's basically like walking around with a tablet attached to your wrist.
Lenovo didn't share much information in regards to specifications: it's powered by a silicon chip designed in-house that purportedly cuts down on size without sacrificing performance. The display's resolution wasn't particularly impressive which we're guessing was a battery consideration. We certainly wouldn't want to use it to watch a feature length movie. You could use it to sneakily watch porn at work though. Just sayin'.
If you like the idea of a smartwatch that can display more than text messages and smartphone notifications, the Lenovo Magic View could be an intriguing proposition. Its success will mainly come down to the weird and wonderful ways in which developers utilise the platform. That, and battery life.
Lenovo has yet to announce pricing or availability for the Magic View. We'll be sure to review it if it ever makes it to Australia.