The pros and cons of: Buying a connected smart watch this holiday season

Casio's GB-6900 Bluetooth-enabled G Shock watch

(Originally published on http://globalnews.ca/)

Many of you have no idea who Chester Gould is. If you’re wondering why I am mentioning his name in this post, it’s because I have a very good reason. On a seemingly unassuming day back in October of 1931, Mr. Gould created the comic strip, Dick Tracy, and subsequently changed the way we looked at our wrists. Rather than just looking at watches as a mere tool to tell the time, he pioneered the idea that they could become a productive extension of our daily lives. Back then, the idea was that hard-hitting Detective Dick Tracy could use his wrist-laden tool as a two-way walkie talkie to communicate back with the station, a technology / idea way ahead of its time for early October 1931. This notion, however, didn’t stop eager young boys from mimicking the fad and role-playing as Mr. Tracy just so that they could see themselves talking directly to their wrists.

Eighty years later, those young day-dreaming boys turned into forward-thinking men, and those men had children of their own. The idea of communicating with your wrist has evolved into an all-out fever pitch and it seems like every brand is throwing their hat into the ring, wanting to release what they believe is the best and most deserving of your hard-earned buck. So how do you, my hard-working technophile, discern between them all? Well, that’s why I’m here.

Let’s take a look at a few of the more popular smart watches on the market and decide which one is potentially the right one for you.

Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart watch: Roughly $329.99 

Samsung’s play in the smart watch industry has been met with mixed reviews; most notably the fact that at launch it only worked with the Galaxy Note 3. Since then, updates have rolled-out and the device is supported by most of Samsung’s current devices. The Gear is the first watch to mimic most of the features seen in Dick Tracey’s iconic watch such as placing/receiving calls on its built-in speakerphone, camera functionality, and a gorgeous 1.63-inch touch-friendly display. Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of buying it:

Pros:

– Works beautifully with your Samsung smartphone

– Built-in 1.9-MP camera actually takes great pictures, records video in HD

– Speakerphone is loud and clear

– Charging case uses the same charger as your phone, so no need to carry around more cables

Cons:

– Only works with Samsung devices, thus the device is useless to anyone with an iPhone or other Android-based smartphone

– Battery life barely lasts a full day

– Not many Gear-specific apps available for download

– High price-point for average consumers, only early-adopters will be inclined to buy.

Casio G-Shock Bluetooth Watch: $200 from Watchit.ca

Pros:

–  Casio has a great reputation making watches that are tough, long-lasting, and cost-effective

– It’s a watch first. Fully water-resistant up to 200 meters, no need to take off for workouts, showers or swimming.

– No need to remember a charging cable. Casio has one year of battery life with regular Bluetooth usage

– Get notified of calls, texts, and emails; also if the watch loses connection to your phone

Cons:

– Currently only works with iOS 5, 6 & 7 via free downloadable app – no Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone 8 support

– Replacing battery more often because of Bluetooth usage

– Made for casual wear only, plastic build restricts formal use

Pebble smart watch: $149.99 from Best Buy

Pros:

– Works with Android and iOS devices via free downloadable app

– Notifies of calls (ignore or accept), text, emails, etc. and allows user to control music and other features

– E-paper display allows for easy viewing

– Great price-point for a smart watch

– Waterproof design allows for use while showering, swimming, or washing dishes

Cons:

– No support for BlackBerry or Windows Phone devices

– On-screen text is small, so users may not find it useful for reading messages and/or notifcations

– Battery life isn’t very impressive, one to three days tops

Overall:

The big question that anyone interested really wants answered is why? Why does someone ‘need’ a smart watch? And the answer is simple: for convenience, that’s it. While regularly using a connected watch does optimize the experience of using a phone, owning a smart watch enables its device-addicted owner to actually put their smartphone down and focus on what’s going on around them, without the fear of missing out on what’s happening online. They’re also a really cool, fairly cost-effective gift idea for the early-adopting techy at home.  As for my preferences, I’ve used all three watches, and find myself leaning towards the Casio G-Shock Bluetooth watch, solely because you’re getting a great, cost-effective watch that has the optional Bluetooth connectivity built-in, rather than a mini phone-dependant computer that can also tell time. Despite its the lack of Android support, which is said to be coming soon, Casio has a great reputation for making watches, and the added Bluetooth feature works great when paired to your iPhone.

Have you hopped the Smart Watch bandwagon? Do you plan to this season? Sound off below and let me know what you’re looking at getting and why!

 

WATCH: Corey talks about tech gifts for Christmas on The Morning Show

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