Google made much ado about the debut of Android Wear at its I/O conference keynote, and few would doubt that this is a potentially sea-changing move in the wearable space. However, the company didn't do much to address the differences between the first smartwatches using its brand-new platform. How are you supposed to know which wearable suits you? That's where we can help out. We've taken a good look at this first batch -- LG's G Watch, Motorola's Moto 360 and Samsung's Gear Live -- to see how they compete. And it's a closer fight than you'd think. While all three have their charms, you'll be making some sacrifices no matter which model you choose.
LG G Watch
In many ways, LG's G Watch is the template for Android Wear, the basic design that everyone will try to equal or beat. It has an unassuming steel chassis, a square display and a distinct lack of party tricks. Those aren't necessarily knocks against it -- if you'd rather not be flashy, this is the smartwatch for you. It also has a bigger battery than the Gear Live (400mAh versus 300mAh), so you could be looking at a longevity champ.
Having said all that, there are some worrisome points. Besides the fairly plain looks, it has a lower resolution (280 x 280), a thicker body (10mm) and a higher price ($229) than the Gear Live; if you only care about the raw numbers, you're paying more to get less. And since LG's rivals haven't provided firm battery life estimates, we won't know if the G Watch's claimed 36-hour runtime is above-average for some time to come.
Samsung Gear Live
Design-wise, Samsung's Gear Live strikes a balance between the plain G Watch and the posh Moto 360. It's slimmer (8.9mm), sharper-looking (320 x 320) and more stylish than LG's model, but not nearly the conversation starter that Motorola's timepiece promises to be. It's the only game in town if you're a fitness maven, though; like its Gear 2 siblings, there's a heart rate sensor that will let you know if your exercise is on track. At $200, the Gear Live may also be the cheapest of the lot.
You may want to see how the battery life works out in real life before you pull the trigger. Samsung is touting "all-day" usefulness, but it's not saying how many hours you'll get in practice. There's a distinct possibility that LG or Motorola could come out ahead.
Motorola Moto 360
The Moto 360 has been the most buzzed-about Android Wear watch to date, and for good reason. In terms of style, there's no contest -- the round display and luxurious materials make this not only the best-looking Android Wear device so far, but also the only one that could pass as a conventional watch at first glance. Motorola has also been far more eager to embrace third-party watch faces, some of which already use the circular layout to good effect. So long as you don't mind a huge frame that would make Flavor Flav proud, it could easily be the frontrunner.
That is, so long as the specs pan out. Most everything about the Moto 360's hardware is currently a mystery -- Motorola still isn't willing to divulge the battery life, performance, price or storage. There are hints that the exotic form factor could lead to a price tag around $249 or higher, and that big screen may be power-hungry. If you're reluctant to risk making any major compromises in the name of fashion, we'd recommend waiting until more details emerge this summer.