Smartwatches are a tricky issue for me. Always has been. Mostly because I never saw them as anything more than an extension of your phone. They never really had a separate and singular function. So I naturally stayed away from them even though I’ve worn them and reviewed them in the past.

Recently however, I’ve become more involved with my fitness and getting into shape and this was one of those times where I felt that maybe it was time to get my hands on a fitness based smartwatch, and see how that would work out (no pun intended) for me. Luckily for me, the good folks over at Matrix sent me the PowerWatch Series 2 to play with and use in my daily life and workouts. My thoughts? It’s good with a lot about it to love and a few things not to love.

Prior to getting the PowerWatch Series 2 I had never used a Matrix series watch before so this was a new endeavor for me. The PowerWatch Series 2 is just like every other smart/fitness watch in that it has an app that connects to your phone via bluetooth that gives you a full readout of your health data as well as a condensed version of that same data on the watch itself.

FITNESS FEATURES AND FUNCTIONS

It looks like fitness watch which I like. I like big face chunky watches for sport because it tells me that this watch will probably be durable. This is what always steered me away from the Apple Watch for fitness, it’s fragility. The PowerWatch Series 2 is different in that it’s very lightweight yet very durable. It’s simplistic in design with just 4 buttons up, down, back, options and no touchscreen. Sounds like a fitness watch to me.

Using the watch is simple enough. It’s not at all complexed and I do like that about the PowerWatch Series 2. You are able to sync the watch data to your phone’s app and you can use either Apple Health or Strava. Since I carry an iPhone, I opted for Apple Health. The data I was able to get was very detailed within the app. I was able to get a good understanding of how my body reacts to everything I do everyday and I was genuinely pleased and the only problem I can say that I had with the data sometimes was the heart rate. More often than not my heart rate was in high 80’s and 90’s even when I was resting in bed doing nothing. I thought it was weird to get readings like that. Luckily for me, my heart rate data isn’t as important as may caloric and sleep data but for those you are monitoring their heart rate this data being so finicky could be a problem.

Fitness features as a whole are limited on the watch overall. There’s Outdoor Run, Outdoor Walk, Outdoor Cycle, Indoor Run and Indoor Walk. All of those modes are GPS capable although it’s suggested that you don’t use it too much, 30-45 minutes is sufficient. I would have liked for this watch to have more features that would further justify it’s cost but it is what it is.

BATTERY LIFE

The battery life on the PowerWatch Series 2 is easily the best thing about this watch. This watch has a solar panel under the screen to help power the watch as well as it being able to use your natural body heat to power watch to which you’ll get a reading in the app. Now, just because you can “charge” the watch with your body heat or thermoelectric generation as it’s properly called doesn’t mean that you should depend on it solely. It’s supplementary to a proper charge periodically on the dock to maintain power. The PowerWatch Series 2 does come with a charger and I found that you’ll be able to charge the watch better in sunlight and the charging dock itself than your body heat. This not a negative. Just making you aware of how charging should be treated. This watch, in my time with it rarely dipped below 20% battery usage and that was because I intentionally left it off my wrist overnight to see what would happen. I have no doubt in my mind that I could leave this watch off the charger for a week and I would still be able to use my watch everyday even if just on a minimal level. In today’s smartwatch world, that’s huge. If there is a reason to really love this watch then it’s the battery life. You almost NEVER have to charge this watch.

NOTIFICATIONS AND OTHER NOTABLE THINGS

As a smartwatch the PowerWatch Series is very basic. While the PowerWatch Series 2 does allow you to receive notifications for texts, phone calls and emails while connected to your phone, I found that it was more of a nuisance to deal with than anything else. This is where having a touchscreen would be ideal. Scrolling through the messages especially lengthy ones is a chore.

The screen brightness of the PowerWatch Series 2 leaves much to be desired. It’s very dull and even if you use the backlight, the screen still doesn’t get very bright unless it’s very dark outside or whatever room you’re in. I would have liked to see this screen be much brighter for a fitness watch in case you like to workout during the day.

Last thing is not so much of a problem as much as it’s something I would’ve liked to see. I would have like to see the option to change faces on the watch. It didn’t have to be an entire database of watch faces but something a little more than the standard face that we get with the watch. It’s kind of a staple with smartwatches nowadays. Again, not an issue with the watch as much as it’s something I would like to see.

IS THE POWERWATCH SERIES 2 WORTH IT?

Whether or not a product is worth it is of course up to the consumer, YOU. As I see it, the PowerWatch Series 2 is a worthwhile pickup for a fitness watch but not for $500. As much as I enjoy using this watch and still use this watch it’s extremely difficult for me to recommend this watch with its price tag. There are cheaper options that do the same or more. The Apple Watch is $100 cheaper with a better screen, arguably more fashionable, more available information and much more functionality for the money. The Garmin Vivoactive is very similar to the PowerWatch Series 2 in terms of features for $200 less. This is where the problem lies for the PowerWatch Series 2. It’s expensive.

The Powerwatch Series 2 has custom software that isn’t necessarily cumbersome to use but when it comes to updates you never know how support will go as opposed to Wear OS which has an entire ecosystem and some assurance in updates. I will say updates so far have been pretty consistent and that’s a good thing but some people might not like the idea of using an OS they aren’t used to using.

All in all the Powerwatch Series 2 is solid but again, $500 as a price point is kind of a self inflicted wound in that it opens the realm for those interested in a fitness to seek out other options to save money

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Mike Bitter is a born gadget head and true lover of technology. It all started with computer classes at age 10 and his first PC the Tandy 1000. From then on he found his love and he became a gamer and a PC builder and has not stopped since. He specializes in hardware, troubleshooting and custom PC building. He’s known as the “fixer” amongst his friends whenever there is a problem with a PC or a Mac. He’s also fully immersed in all things that pertain to the world of computers and gaming. He's an 80's baby and he grew up watching technology evolve from the NES to PS4 and from the Commodore 64 to the iMac. He has a unique and minimalist perspective on technology and is here to help the average person to understand technology today.