The buildup to the Apple Inc.'s release of its smartwatch, called Apple Watch, passed another milepost Wednesday as media reviewers published their first accounts of trying it out, with most finding it useful though not as easy to learn as earlier gadgets like the iPod and iPhone.
The company last week gave the watch to about ten journalists at large newspapers, tech websites and Apple-oriented blogs, to wear and use.
Apple required the reviewers not to say anything until today, two days before the product becomes available for the public to try out in its stores and about two weeks before its April 24 sale date.
With supplies expected to be limited at first, Apple initially will distribute the watch online and through its stores for an unknown amount of time before selling it through other retailers. Earlier this week, Apple advised staffers at its stores to tell customers to order online in the expectation that stores will have limited inventory for some time.
The reviews that emerged Wednesday may tamp down some interest in the smartwatch. Many of the reviewers raised issues that may put off prospective buyers who are not technically adept.
"It took three days — three long, often confusing and frustrating days — for me to fall for the Apple Watch," New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo wrote in his review. "But once I fell, I fell hard."
Manjoo suggested people might think the watch's ability to process messages and notifications will lead its users to spend more time in their virtual life and be less connected to what's happening around them. But he said he found the opposite and that his wife even noticed a change in his use of smart devices. "The Apple Watch could usher in a transformation of social norms just as profound as those we saw with its brother, the smartphone — except, amazingly, in reverse," Manjoo wrote.
The Wall Street Journal's Geoff Fowler said he took a "utilitarian" approach to assessing the value of the new device. "What’s valuable is your time. The Apple Watch is a computer built to spend it better," Fowler wrote. "And if you can tolerate single-day battery life, half-baked apps and inevitable obsolescence, you can now wear the future on your wrist."
A rundown of some of the other reviews:
Bloomberg: "The Apple Watch can certainly make you a worse dinner guest. But it can also make you a slightly better one. The difference is whether or not you’re willing to think about what really matters vs. what seems to matter."
The Verge: "Let’s just get this out of the way: the Apple Watch, as I reviewed it for the past week and a half, is kind of slow. There’s no getting around it, no way to talk about all of its interface ideas and obvious potential and hints of genius without noting that sometimes it stutters loading notifications."
Re/code: "Of the half-dozen smartwatches I’ve tested in recent years, I’ve had the best experience with Apple Watch. If you’re an iPhone power user and you’re intrigued by the promises of wearable technology, you’ll like it, too. But that doesn’t mean Apple Watch is for everyone."
Daring Fireball: "It was obvious that portable media players were being computerized. It was obvious that mobile phones were being computerized. Who better to enter the market, in both cases, than the world’s best personal computer maker? It is not obvious — based on the watch market today — that wrist watches should or will be computerized."
Yahoo Tech: "Once you get to know the Watch, you realize that Apple carefully observed its rivals’ failures, and adjusted its product accordingly."
CNET: "The Apple Watch is the most ambitious, well-constructed smartwatch ever seen, but first-gen shortfalls make it feel more like a fashionable toy than a necessary tool."