The surging revolution in technology has demonstrated a peculiar tendency of human nature. We like to stuff as much as possible in as small a device as we can. We have transcended from bulky desktop personal computers to portable laptops to revolutionary tablet devices and Smartphones. So, what’s next? What is smaller than a mobile phone and is used daily?
Well, we all have wrist watches, and most of us use it. Since the time of Dick Tracy’s two way wrist radio and James Bond’s Seiko Watch Pager, smart watches have always enticed every gadget maker ranging from big electronic manufacturers to small time inventors. Till some time back, no wrist gadget had got so much popularity with an exception of the calculator watch.
A brief history
Major brands have frequently released working prototypes of smart watches having numerous different functionalities. We got Seiko’s RC series that got famous in 1970’s, then we got Casio’s databank series that came along with its highly popular calculator watch in 1980’s, then we got Samsung SPH-WP10 in 1999 which is considered as the first watch phone by a major manufacturer. But every gadget faded into the realm of obscurity. They are only alive in the memories of gadget lovers.
A new era
Social networking, dedicated mobile operating systems, and innovative hardware, has changed the way we communicate with each other. There is no argument against the fact that Smartphones are the new way for accessing the internet and keeping pace with the world.
Latest technological advancements have facilitated manufacturing of small devices with lots of features. And now with the advent of Android and other mobile device operating systems, we have started to see small devices that are able to connect with your phone through Bluetooth and display data on your phone or from your phone. With stagnation in the Smartphone and tablet device competition, coupled with a demand to see something new, companies are sniffing around for new areas of market.
So, is wrist watch the next realm of competition between giants like Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung? Well. Why not?
When searched on ebay.com there’s already a listing of 1050 different types of wrist watch cell phones. Even though most of these are produced by little known Chinese manufacturers, some industry giants like Sony have already started to encroach this segment by launching Android powered Smartwatches.
But they are not the only big fish in the pond. We present to you the top Smart watches that are going to change the face of your mobile experience and transform the way you look at time.
Branded as the first real smart watch, I’m Watch is a stylish touchscreen Smartwatch from Italy. It has Bluetooth connectivity and can connect with your Smartphone to display SMS, phone, and email notifications. It has 4 GB internal memory and thus can save lots of songs and other files. It also has a decent built-in speaker and a sound jack on its side, so you can play music on the go. It works on a special operating system titled ‘I m Droid’, which is customized out of Android OS. The device is not a standalone phone, so it only works when its Bluetooth is tethered to your Smartphone.
The device has a number of features and could be used for a number of versatile uses such as you can call a number through your watch, pick up an incoming call and talk through the watch using watch’s built-in speaker and microphone, view SMSes, emails, and Facebook updates, get wheather updates, and of course see time on it.
It has some drawbacks which is kind of common for all these types of devices so we will discuss it later but as for the plus points it has a few, biggest out of them being that wearing- I’m Watch does not transform you automatically into a geek. It’s stylish and good to look at. It has a colorful touch screen that may not be comparable in functionality to Smartphone screens, but after few frustrating attempts it will get the job done. What do you expect; it’s a watch so manufacturers have to make some sacrifices.
I’m Watch comes in a range of colors but even the basic model’s price is steep. Considering that you can get an unlocked 16GB iPhone 4 for about $450, paying $389 for a watch will seem like burning a hole in your pocket.
Created by former Fossil watch employees, Metawatch is another stylish Smartwatch that comes in a range of different colors and designs. Metawatch has launched two different types of watches named Strata and Frame. The difference between the two is only on the outer body and design but not in the inner components. Strata has a damage resistant Silicone cover and strap, and have better water proofing than Frame but Frame is a bit more stylish and has formal leather straps. Strata comes for $179 and Frame for $199.
The best thing about this watch is its 96×96 pixel reflective mirror display. Reflective display means that you can read the time from the watch even under direct sunlight. For all those who don’t know, backlit LCD display found in earlier Smartphones (and few cheap current options) are really hard to read in bright sunlight. However, the display of the Metawatch is only in black and white colors and is not touch sensitive.
The watch connects with your Smartphone through Bluetooth and has a special link alarm feature that notifies you whenever you go out of range of your phone. It’s a really useful feature for you if you have a habit of losing your phone. Other features of the watch include SMS notifications, caller id display, link alarm, phone’s music control, and a number of widgets. The watch has a set of 6 buttons that help you configure these features.
Till now the watch does not have important features like email, Facebook, or Twitter notification, alarms, and exercise related tools, but Metawatch’s weather, stocks and calendar widgets are indeed impressive. A good point about it is that unlike its counterparts Sony Smartwatch and I’m Watch, Metawatch’s screen does not go blank whenever the device is ideal. It displays time, date, and temperature throughout just like a normal watch.
The number one contender for the title of the most popular smart watch is well, the-Sony SmartWatch. It’s Sony’s second foray into a wearable device market. After the lukewarm response of its first Smartwatch like device named Sony LiveView, Sony has learned some lessons and added some basic improvements. But even then the watch needs a lot in terms of functionality.
The Smartwatch is powered by a customized version of Android OS; therefore it is compatible with a range of Smartphones that use Android. Like every Smartwatch listed here, Sony’s SmartWatch connects to a Smartphone through Bluetooth. It gives you email, Facebook, and twitter notifications, has a cool weather widget, you can control music playing on the phone, pickup or mute calls (you would need a headset though), can read emails, sms, Facebook and twitter updates on the watch, and you can connect it to your PC. It even has a decent battery life of 3-4 days.
It has a multi-touch 1.3 OLED Display with a 128×128 pixel resolution. However the touch display sometime becomes unresponsive or delays in response. The wrist strap is attached by a clip on the device’s back so you can change straps or use it in any way you like. You can make one your’s by shelling out $150.
Pebble is kickstarter.com backed venture that is yet to be launched. However its 1.26 inch sunlight-readable e-paper display has generated some interest in us. It is not Android powered like its counterparts and has its own dedicated operating system. You can customize it to display different types of watch faces that are downloadable from the web, and can install different apps on the watch. The Pebble Technologies has provided a dedicated SDK for programmers to create and customize apps.
But it hasn’t been launched till yet and needs a field testing to filter out all the bugs and glitches that we usually see in a new device.
Why are they not popular?
So, the question arises even though there are a lot of available options, why we are not seeing Smartwatches everywhere like we are seeing Smartphones. Well, the answer is simple, Smartwatches is a technology that’s still under development. Here we look at some of the current kinks that we would like to be straightened.
Push a button to watch time…… seriously???
Sony SmartWatch and I’m Watch uses colored touch sensitive screens that drain a lot of battery. So to conserve power the screens go blank after a few seconds of being left idle. So to wake up the device, you have to push a button to see the time. After a few times of this experience you really start to regret the hundreds of dollars you spent on them.
Don’t forget to charge it
When you come back home after a long tiring day you have to put your mobile, laptop, tablets, and Bluetooth headset to charging. Now you have to even charge your watch. The battery life of all these watches is terrible. Batteries of watches are supposed to last years, whereas these devices only last days and that’s when you don’t use them heavily.
Tap, tap and then tap again
Touch screen in a watch is a good concept but at least make them responsive. For both Sony SmartWatch and I’m Watch, touch screen has shown glitches, delays, and in some cases becomes downright unresponsive. We need a technological innovation in touch-sensitive small screens.
The price of these watches is still too high when compared to their functionalities. Considering I can get a really classy, durable, and useful Casio watch for $79, I will certainly hesitate to shell $150 for a Smartwatch that has to be charged every day.
Smartwatch technology is still in its early stage. It needs dedicated attention and a smartphone like competition to propel it forward. So, buy these devices only if you are a hardcore gadget aficionado. The technology still requires a lot of innovation to make it practical and affordable for daily use.Tags: device, watch, watches