Unboxing the Olio Model One

The latest – and last – candidate in our 2015 smartwatch roundup has finally arrived.

Over the course of the last year, I’ve been doing a very extended roundup of smartwatches. The final piece of hardware for the roundup arrived yesterday (and there’s quite a story wrapped around its shipment and delivery…). I present for your consideration – the Olio Model One.

As you can see in the unboxing video, above, the Olio Model one just oozes luxury from the very beginning. I knew I was unboxing something special when I saw that the packing material inside the shipment box was custom cut foam.

The box and packing materials are of the type that you’d think you’d find with the purchase of a luxury time piece. The watch box is bound in soft, black leather, and the watch itself is securely packed with a suede wrapped liner. The box has two small compartments on either side of the watch – the left one containing the micro USB power cable and the right containing a cleaning cloth, extra watch bracelet links, a safety and user guide and a getting started guide.

Here are my first impressions on the watch and my initial out of box experience with it.

Hardware
Olio Model OneThe hardware is flawless. It looks great, feels great, and is solidly made. The build quality is high and Olio gets top marks in this regard. Unfortunately, it goes straight south after coming out of the box.

The getting started instructions tell you to plug the charging cable into the magnetic charging plate and to attach it to the back of the watch. After that, the watch turns on and you’re instructed to run through the watch’s setup procedure.

That was fine, but the watch gets HOT when charging.

I mean it gets, “burn your hands and I can’t pick this up or hold it” hot when it is charging. I had a VERY difficult time completing the setup procedure because I had to put the watch down multiple times. It was simply too hot to handle. It took me over two hours to complete the setup because the watch was too hot to handle, and I made a few mistakes with it while trying to work with the watch.

After I was finally able to finish setup, the Model One wasn’t done charging so I placed it on my desk and left it to charge overnight. I actually wondered if the watch would get hot enough to burn my desk or cause a fire, it got so hot… and no. I’m not exaggerating.

Watch UI
So far, the UI on the watch seems about as intuitive as a nuclear missile silo. Moving through the available screens doesn’t seem to work very well, because for some reason, my touch screen doesn’t seem to do anything when I tap it. I have to give it the ol’ “hello…! McFly..!!” treatment to try to get the screen to turn on so I can even see what time it is. It doesn’t seem to have a “lift to display” feature like the Apple Watch does. There are no buttons on the watch and it doesn’t have a crown – digital or otherwise – to turn or push to try to get the display to turn on.

One of the first thing that Olio tells you to do is to go through its tutorials; and it’s a good thing, because the print on the getting started guide is very, VERY small and it was very difficult for me to read, even with my glasses on.

Once you know how to move through the watch screens and to get to its Settings and other function screens, there appears to be a particular “touch” that you need to employ in order to actually get to the screens.

This is not easy to master.

It takes a while to find just the right amount of pressure and just the right spot on the screen in order for the UI to correctly interpret your intent. I still haven’t gotten this right consistently.

Companion Software
I really need to spend more time with the Model One’s app. There are some initial items of concern here; but it’s entirely possible that those concerns may disappear after I become more familiar with it. I don’t want to comment too much on this just yet.

Conclusion
Yeah…

I dunno.

The jury is definitely still out on this one. Unfortunately, the Olio Model One didn’t hit the home run out of the box that I was hoping for; and I’m somewhat disappointed the morning after doing the unboxing.

I’m going to do my best to get through this as unbiased as possible, but out of the gate, while the hardware – the Olio Model One itself – is nearly everything that you thought it would be by looking at Olio’s product offering on their website, the hardware isn’t worth squat if there are UI, companion software or worse yet, charging issues.

I’m targeting the end of November 2015 for the completion of this review. If there’s anything in particular that you’d like me to look at specifically – device software/ UI, companion software, battery charging and battery life or hardware – I’d love to hear from you. Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below and post your questions or concerns. I’ll do my best to address them during the review and to keep everyone posted on how things go.

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  • Josh

    I’m a little disappointed so far myself for the same reasons you already mentioned. I also have other issues though, small stuff like the weather not syncing and big stuff like the watch itself disconnecting from my phone every other hour or so. Have you encountered the same issues?

  • Arsalan Ashfaq

    The watch looks good, but don’t think I can use it as it stands today. Following are some of the issues that I have found with the watch. I really like the design of the watch and the way it looks, I hope it’s looked up as constructive feedback.

    1. Battery is poor and a complete charge drains in 4-5 hours. I was told that this will get fixed in a week, but that was two weeks ago.

    2. The bluetooth connection drops every 15 minutes, it’s frustrating because you should connect once and forget about it; you cannot do that as connection will drop even if the phone and watch are in close proximity.I had pebble and that never lost connection.

    3. ambient sensor that determines light does not work at all, in order to see time one has to keep brightness at medium.

    4. Cannot use control hub, event if I am playing music on my phone the control hub doesn’t pick it up. It worked once and never after that one time.

    5. It requires a vigourous swing of your hand to make the watch wake up, it would have been nice to have a hardware button to wake/sleep the watch. At times when it does register my hand move, the watch face dims very quickly not giving me enough time to see time or interact with the watch.

    The interface is slick and I like the idea of things that the watch promises to do. There was a reason why I did not buy the apple watch, I would still like to see a seemless integration with my iphone. Most of these could be software issues and will improve over time, it would be great if Olio shares some sort of timeline/progress on these issues.

  • Doug Barnert

    Every few week I try again. But I can’t complain about similar things as you do since I have never been able to get my iPhone (9.2.2) Bluetooth connection to “connect”. I used parentheses since Settings shows the Olio Watch, but then doesn’t recognize it. Any thoughts or directions?

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