Though it seems like a good solution for kids that are too young to own a smartphone, the MoveTime watch is held back by buggy software, poor battery life and security issues that could cause safety problems.
There comes a time in most families when the kids start begging you for a smartphone because everyone else has one. But what if you feel they're not quite ready for the responsibilities that come with owning a smartphone? That's where TCL's MoveTime Family Watch comes in.
What is the TCL MoveTime Family Watch?
It's a durable, easy to use smartwatch with a mobile SIM with two-way communication between the child and designated contacts over a 4G network. It supports voice calls, video chat, image sharing, instant messaging, and SOS button and smartphone notifications.
An accompanying app also supports GPS tracking and geofencing which triggers if your child leaves a designated area. When your kid comes home, you can review their movements throughout the day on the app's map.
It also has a child-friendly interface (animal drawings etc.) and simple games and apps such as a voice recorder with sound effects. There's a built-in pedometer as well, which supports basic activity tracking and fitness features.
Our field test
We asked Kim Gilmour, our head of household testing, if her 10-year-old daughter Audrey was happy to help field test the TCL MoveTime watch. After all, there's no real value in getting adults to test a product aimed at kids.
Audrey wore the watch while Kim assessed the app.
"I quite like this watch because it has a lot of things to do and look at such as Pocket Mole and the voice changer. I also liked how you can call your family but you can't call anyone else unless they have a MoveTime as well. It runs out of battery pretty fast actually and it doesn't count your steps while it's out of battery.
"You can actually get messages from strangers unless you block it on the app but they can't call you or send pictures and you can't reply, thankfully. The video call works well but I can't normally call anyone because it won't work for some reason and when my family normally calls me it does not work well.
"The voice changers is really funny but it can only save five recordings, which is sad. I want to save all my funny memories! So that was my review of the TCL MoveTime watch."
We checked Audrey's claims about unknown contacts and she was spot on. The MoveTime watch can receive messages from unknown numbers by default, which is surprising considering the market for this device, as total strangers can contact your kids. Although you can deactivate this 'feature', we feel it should be turned off by default and only activated by the parent or guardian with full knowledge of the outcomes.
The MoveTime app (images supplied).
Does it work?
Most of the watch's features look good on paper, particularly geofencing, as it gives your young kids a certain degree of independence, while you know that they're in a safe, predefined area. The splash-proof body also protects it against the elements.
In practice, however, the MoveTime has some niggling issues that need to be addressed. Some issues are potentially dangerous and may put your child at risk unless you know exactly what the watch can do (and what it shouldn't do).
The accompanying app
The app was suitable for live tracking, making video/audio calls and sending voice messages, but the other advertised features weren't quite as good:
- Though it summarised Audrey's movements throughout the day, it wasn't completely accurate.
- The watch constantly notified the app when its battery was running low, which in turn caused the smartphone battery to rapidly deplete.
- Live tracking stopped working when the watch battery ran low.
TCL has good intentions with the MoveTime, and it's much more discreet than a smartphone in the hands of a 10-year-old. However, the potential usefulness is hampered by its several shortcomings.