Smart watches have become more than just a way to tell time as the Apple watch and Fit Bit are becoming increasingly popular.
I have had my share of experiences with smart watches – some good and some bad. I’m looking for another new smart watch, so I thought I’d share my research and experience with the smart watches that I looked at.
You may ask, “why do I want to look for another watch when I had the Nike and Pebble?” Well, the Nike doesn’t have smart notification and I find the Pebble too big with far too many functions. I don’t want to carry a multipurpose computer on my wrist.
Features I want my smart watch to have
There are features that I consider mandatory for my next smart watch purchase.
- First, it has to show the time, date and number of steps walked, in a readable format so I don’t need to squint or carry a magnifier.
- It should have smart notification for phone calls and texts, because my iPhone is not always next to me.
- Being a woman, I’d also like the watch to be small – I don’t want to look like I’m carrying a heavy object on my wrist.
- I’d like a smart watch that is less than an inch wide and less than two inches long.
- The charging frequency of the watch is important as well – it should only need to be charged once a week and I give bonus marks for watches that don’t need a special proprietary charger designed for that specific watch only.
Oh and the cost should be under $300. I’m an Apple user, but all of the watches I looked at (other than the Apple watch) work both with iOS and Android.
Watches that didn’t make the cut
With the above criteria, several watches were eliminated from consideration.
- The Apple watch because of its size, cost and daily charging requirement.
- The Fitbit chargeHR has no text notification and if the heart rate monitor is used, the watch needs to be charged every two to three days.
- The Fitbit Surge is more than two inches wide and costs more than $300.
- The Pebble watch is more than two inches wide and depending on the features used, it needs to be charged every three to four days.
I also saw the Swarovski activity tracking watch at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. It’s not only appealing to the eyes but tracks steps and distance traveled, though the watch only displays two dots on the jewel that simulates the face of the watch showing the time (hours and minutes). All other information is only available on the smart phone. This is unfortunate, because the watch is reasonably priced at $189 and is beautiful.
I have narrowed down three watches to evaluate that meet my criteria: the Timex Move x20, Garmin Vivosmart and the Polar A360. I will be assessing each watch after I’ve used it for at least a month, as some of the good, bad and ugly features aren’t apparent after shorter use.
It is easy to use, the battery lasts for a week and the special activity measures specific time period activities, such as my progress in Zumba class. The software on the iPhone is well designed and thought out. Step length can be adjusted based on the number of steps walked during a specified distance. The reporting on the smart phone is easy to understand and use and can even be used on the plane.
It is the only watch of the three that stored data on the iPhone that can be accessed while not connected to the internet. Displays on the watch can only be activated by one of the buttons, while other watches allow display activation by wrist movements. The display shows the time, but to show the date, the button has to be pressed four more times.
The user guide is a downloadable pdf, however it requires some searching to find an answer to a problem. My experience with their call center help was positive since the person I talked to was knowledgeable and friendly.
The biggest issue with it is the charging set up. As I described it in my previous blog, you almost have to be a contortionist to connect the charger. First you have to place the small, protruding lip into the charger, then line up the silver colored contacts, and finally secure the strap over the watch. I have managed to simplify the charging process by placing a small clip on it which stabilizes the watch, thus making charging the watch slightly easier.
Another issue I found with the watch is that its display scratches easily, and after 6 months the display was hard to read. The button activating the display also wears down, but still functioned fine while I had it (for about 8 months) though I wonder how it would function after a couple of years.
Even with these three issues, I liked the watch: it’s easy to use, displays just the right amount of information and it does a good job measuring and reporting on my activity level.
Tune in next month for my review on the Garmin Vivosmart. The month after that, I’ll be reviewing the Polar A360 watch and including a comparison summary.
If you’re using any of the three watches, or have found a watch that meets my criteria, leave a comment below!