Asher is sitting in our living room, slowly opening a slick white box.
"Whoa!" he exclaims as he reveals the watch. "Is this the new Gizmo?"
My 6-year-old is no stranger to wearables. You may even know him from his test-run with LG's previous smart band, the GizmoPalTM by LG. We're at it again to try out their latest kids' wearable, the GizmoGadgetTM by LG, which has a bunch of new features, most notably a touchscreen and a way more grownup design.
"Let me show you how the messaging works," I say. "If I send you a question after sschool, you can reply 'Yes' or 'No,' like this, right from the watch."
"Actually, Dad," Asher corrects me, "I can write a lot more than that." He scrolls down the reveal the six other custom-reply messages that I hadn't seen, as well as the ability to send audio messages.
He's right, of course. When it comes to phones and apps, I know my stuff. But I'm no match for a first-grader.
The touchscreen navigation seems second nature to him: He even teaches me new features before I could get a word out.
"This thing even has a compass on it," he says. "It has a stopwatch, a timer ... everything!"
Including an activity tracker that counts daily steps.
And while the previous version seemed geared to younger kids, this new wearable looks like something even a middle-schooler would wear.
Within seconds, Asher calls Grandma in Cincinnati (I'd already set her up as one of his contacts).
He starts reading her the letter he just wrote to Santa (it's early December) and then tells her about the role he has in an upcoming school play.
"I'm singing and kind of narrating," he says.
My wife pulls me aside. "He's doing well on the phone with her," she says. "Much better than when he's on FaceTime. This is the best phone conversation I've heard him have in a while."
Like a lot of kids, Asher is prone to run off in the middle of a family video chat, but having a GizmoGadget right on his wrist seems to keep him more engaged.
A week later, I'm working in New York and decide to call Asher. I tap Maps on the GizmoHubTM app and search for his location.
I'm standing in front of the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree (a scene he would love), so I tap "call" to see what he's up to. He picks up and I can tell he's pleased to receive a call.
"Hey, buddy, what's for dinner tonight?" I ask.
"Wow, Mom has really checked out, huh? Have you finished your homework?"
The GizmoGadget has a new to-do list feature based on the day and time. I've set it up so that every day at 3:30 p.m., it reminds Asher to do his schoolwork.
"Yep, all done," he says.
Some other favorite to-do's I tried:
Later that week, I'm back home. It was great staying connected to him while I was traveling, but now that we're face-to-face again, thingsare suddenly difficult. He's upset because I won't take him back to school at 7 p.m. to see a play. The poor boy is screaming, crying and stomping around the house. Eventually he's had enough of my reasoning (I've been traveling and Mom's at work) and heads upstairs.
It's suddenly quiet and peaceful. That seems like a little too quick of a recovery, I think.
My phone dings and I look down. He's sent me a message: a single, sad-faced emoji.
A small green man, pulsing with a broken heart.
It's the first time I've seen him communicate with an emoji (tear falls from this 21st-century dad's eye).
All his formerly loud emotions seemed distilled into that sad, green man. I'm not saying you're going to get the same result; all I can report is that my house stayed quiet.
One of the best functions of the GizmoHub app is controlling when he can use the watch. For example, I can turn it off, set it to quiet mode or turn on auto-answer as long as he's connected to the network.
A new feature called Quiet Time lets me schedule certain times of the day or week (like during school hours) where the GizmoGadget won't ring or make sounds (if he gets a call, the number still appears on the screen.)
With the GizmoGadget, LG has really built upon the success of its last smart band, the GizmoPal.
Asher was certainly a fan. When asked for things he wants to see in the next one, he shrugged.
"Maybe shoot photos and video?"
Hmm. I'll let LG know.