7 smart watches from CES 2014

While I was down at CES 2014 last week, I spent a lot of time looking at smart watches. In addition to showing the date and time, these watches also alert the wearer of incoming calls, text, emails or had other applications.

I have a Pebble watch and I was interested in what other similar watches are out there. I like my Pebble, but there is one really annoying thing about it: it doesn’t show that it needs to be charged. It just stops working – goes dead.

I looked at seven watches (actually, eight, but more about that later). There were a lot more than eight at CES, but with 3,000 vendors, I did what I could. I did not look at the Samsung, OR Sony watches as there are lots of reviews of them. The ones I looked at could be divided into three broad categories: colour screen watches ($350 and up), black and white screen watches ($130
and up) and one other with unique features.

The first category of watches with the colour screen have less battery life, while the second group of watches can be used for a week before charging is needed. All the watches show battery status and notify their wearers of incoming calls, messages and emails.

The Mykonos watches come in several models, with some in black and white, while others have a colour touch screen. The watches have been designed in Switzerland, which they mention in every advertisement. It is interesting that their price list shows the same price for the watch in euros as in US dollars, when there is an approximate 30 per cent difference in value.

The Burg smart watch has lots of features and only works with the Android operating system. It advertises itself as a smartphone on the wrist. I’m not a fan of doing work on an approximately 2×2-inch screen, but others may like it. It has a colour touch screen and costs just under $400.

The Qualcomm toq is another watch for the Android users and it has a very clear colour touch screen. It also comes bundled with a lot of applications. It is $349 and is available now. It claims to have a 5 day battery life.

The Neptune smart watch is the largest of the watches I saw and the most feature-rich. It does not need Bluetooth. You can write emails using its small keyboard and send them through a Wi-Fi connection. It can take pictures, track your exercise results, and many other tasks. It sells for just under $400.

Now for the watches that do not have a colour screen. The Sonostar smart watch seems to be one of the least expensive in the category at $129. It works on iOS and Android and it requires recharging weekly. It has a curved touch screen. I did try it and found it easy to use.

The Meta smart watch has an easy-to-read display and is selling for $149 to 199. It is available in Canada both on iOS and Android. In addition to the features I described above, it has weather reporting features, which I saw, and supposedly news and sport features that I didn’t see. Its battery lasts about a week.

The Cogito watch is beautifully designed. It shows if there is a call, text or email via a flashing icon. The watch costs $189. The battery lasts for a year and is a standard watch battery.

And now for the special one, the watch called Filip. It is a cute smart watch for kids and parents. The kids can use it for texting and calling selected phone numbers such as Mom. It can be used as a “kid locator” by parents through its GPS feature. It costs $199, plus a $10 monthly charge. It will be available in Canada by the end of this year.

Would I wear any of the watches I saw? They are all rather large and look bulky. I’m waiting for a smaller version that doesn’t make it look like I’m carrying a computer on my wrist.

And to close off my last blog from this year’s CES – three items: my pet peeve, weirdest freebie, and most unusual product. My pet peeve is seeing about half the booths with just a name on it, not what product or service they offer. They should have something to differentiate them from the other 3,000-plus vendors by answering the question as to why people should stop at the booth.

The weirdest freebie (and there weren’t a lot) was from PCKeeper LIVE!, an organization that ensures that your PCs are secure and perform well. The little pouches they handed out were labeled, “We got you covered,” and had a condom inside.

And finally under the “do we need this” heading, that award goes to Momentum Labs , provides a stylus in the shape of a press-on fingernail so that you don’t sacrifice your “beautiful nails for your smartphone.” And for men, they provide something similar but they call it tech tips.

So this is it. Hope you got a bit of a taste of CES. And some questions – do you have a smart watch? Would you get one of the ones I described? Sound off in the comments and let me know.

Catherine Aczel Boivie
Catherine Aczel Boivie
Dr. Catherine Aczel Boivie is a widely respected executive with over 30 years of experience in the leadership of advancing the value of information technology as a business and education enabler. Prior executive roles includes: CEO Inventure Solutions and Senior Vice President of Information Technology/Facility Management for Vancity Credit Union; SVP of IT and Chief Information Officer at Pacific Blue Cross and Canadian Automobile Association of British Columbia. Catherine is also an experienced board member serving on several boards, including those of Commissioner for Complaints for Telecom-television Services, Canada Foundation for Innovation and MedicAlert Canada. Dr. Boivie is the founding Chair and President of the Chief Information Officers (CIO) Association of Canada that has over 400 Chief Information Officers as members across Canada. She has been publicly recognized for her contributions, including being named as one of Canada's top 100 most powerful women by the Women's Executive Network in the "Trailblazers and Trendsetters" category and the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee medal for being a "catalyst for technology transformation".

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