Matrix is back at CES this year with the PowerWatch 2, a follow-up to last year’s wearable that was powered entirely by the body heat emitted from your wrist. For the second iteration, Matrix has made a surprising amount of progress, because the PowerWatch 2 has evolved from a black-and-white screen to a 1.2-inch color display, with support for thermometric and solar charging, as well as with GPS and fitness tracking. The main attraction remains the same: this is a watch that never needs to be plugged in to charge.
Still, despite such a headlining feature, this isn’t supposed to compete with your Apple Watch. You can’t download third-party apps, it has very limited notification support, and it can’t place calls. The company says that the target audience is in fact, “outdoor types”; for those who might be situations where having to lug around an extra charger is more a nuisance than a convenience.
Even if you’re not a hiker or a hunter, there’s also the fact that the PowerWatch 2 is compatible with both Apple HomeKit and Google Fit, allowing you to use it as a rugged fitness tracker that never needs to be charged.
Wearing and adjusting the prototype PowerWatch 2 on my wrist makes it clear: this is a durable, bulky 42mm watch with an aluminum case and a rubber strap. The solar cell ring is housed inside the watch’s bezel, which Matrix says can store power from indoor or outdoor light. Compared to last year’s watch, the PowerWatch 2 is slightly smaller, but it’s still a sizable device that won’t be comfortable on small wrists.