Cookoo 2 Connected Monochrome Watch: Is this basic smart watch worth the money?

The monochrome display provides just simple alerts, but the analog features are appealing

Published: September 24, 2014 03:45 PM

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If you like analog watches (you know, the old-fashioned kind with moving hands) but want a few smart features, the Cookoo 2 Connected Watch ($150) might be more appealing than its squarish, full-featured competitors. But be warned: This is a really basic smart watch.

The Cookoo 2 works with devices running Android 4.3 and up, iPhone 4s and up, the iPad mini, 4th- and 3rd-generation iPads, and the iPod touch (5th gen). We bought a Cookoo to test in our lab, and will publish the results soon. But first we did some informal trials, pairing it with a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phone. No matter what capabilities you're seeking, the Cookoo's glitches could be deal-breakers.

What it does

The Cookoo 2 looks like a conventional watch. But lurking behind its hands is a monochrome display that delivers basic notifications: incoming calls (with Caller ID), missed calls, texts, e-mail, social media alerts (for WhatsApp, Line, QQ, WeChat, Skype, Facebook, Twitter), and calendar alerts.

It also shows you when the battery is running low—which won't be nearly as often as with more sophisticated smart watches, since the Cookoo 2 runs on a cell battery, along with a second, smaller battery for the watch movement. We've been using it for about a week, and it's still showing a full charge.

Getting started

The first steps are to download the Connected Watch app to a mobile device and then pair the phone to the watch via Bluetooth. It took us a few tries to successfully pair the two gadgets, but that could have been because we were already using another smart watch with our Note 3. When we unpaired those two devices, the Cookoo and the phone found each other easily.

There's no touch screen on the Cookoo. Instead, you navigate using four buttons situated around the bezel: Power, Command, Page Left, and Page Right. Using those buttons alone or in various combinations lets you acknowledge and dismiss notifications and control music on your paired mobile device.

Read our recent reviews of smart watches. Then, learn what questions you should ask before you buy one.

The Cookoo 2 also has a "find your phone" feature. Press the Power and Page Left buttons, and your phone makes a "cuckoo, cuckoo" sound—cute. You can also find your watch through the phone app. And you can activate your phone's camera by bringing up the app, pressing a camera icon, and pressing the watch's Command button.

We would have appreciated more clear, detailed instructions on using the Cookoo 2's various features. After much searching, we found this online tutorial. The booklet that comes in the box isn't as detailed.

What it gets wrong

The Cookoo 2 didn't always work seamlessly. For one thing, although I had my Gmail account set up on the test phone, no e-mail notifications ever showed up on the watch or within the app. (We reached out to the company to troubleshoot this issue and will update with the response.)

Second, there's very little configurability within the app. Pretty much all you can do is turn the various types of alerts on and off. There's no way to specifiy which social notifications you receive. In fact, when an alert pops up, you don't even know what social network it's coming from.

Unlike most other smart-watch platforms, there are no additional apps available to add functions. Like we said earlier: very basic.

Finally, you can't send any information out, as you can with most other smart watches. The Cuckoo 2 is just for receiving alerts, not answering them.

Bottom line

The Cookoo 2 is a smart watch, but just barely. And our experience with it was somewhat frustrating. But it is a well-disguised piece of electronics, passing easily for a conventional analog watch until an alert comes in. If that's important to you, this could be a model to consider.

Check back soon for our lab test results on this and other new smart watches.

—Carol Mangis

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