Smartwatches: To Get or Not To Get?

The questions of getting a smartwatch is slowly getting to minds of people who are not exactly the geeky type. Having used 3 different types since last December, I thought maybe I should narrate my opinion and share my “wish list” for the devices that will come.

Summary of My Inventory

 

LG G2 Garmin VivoSmart Qualcomm Toq
Battery life (days) 1 6 6
Waterproof No Yes No
Voice command Poor (Google) No Excellent (Nuance)
Step counter Yes Yes Yes
On wrist nav Yes No No
Reminder Yes Yes Yes
Notification Yes Yes Yes
Dismiss on phone Yes No No
Configurable replies No No Yes
Easy sync/connect to phone Yes No Yes
Reading in low light No Yes Yes
Color screen Excellent Black and white Faded colors
Heart rate monitor No Yes No
Mute phone Adjustable No Can mute
Acquired on  Dec 2013 Oct 2014 Dec 2014

 

  • Qualcomm Toq 
    • More of a prototype, and to show Qualcomm technologies such as very low power Mirasol display. It is now discontinued.
    • The voice command and pre-stored replies were extremely handy. Even better than Google Now on the Android wear below.
    • It also natively supported AllJoyn, which got me to do some IoE projects. I think this will be a more core function of wearables in future.
    • [Update, March 2015] Timex Ironman One GPS Watch uses same Qualcomm Mirasol display as Toq, but with better interface, GPS, and standalone data connection.
  • Garmin Vivosmart
    • It is a fitness band that has smart capabilities. It came with separate heart rate chest band which is more accurate than optical wrist band ones. This is the one I constantly wear. Connect software, which is Garmin’s on-phone and online community software could be much much better.
    • I like its integration with MyFitnessPal though, because it automatically reports estimate of my calories burnt (based on steps and more accurately HR monitor during workouts) to MFP so I can watch my calories better.
    • Having to take it off only once a week coupled with its slick design makes it very bearable!
    • It keeps disconnecting from my Nexus 5, which Garmin told me is (surprisingly) not a supported phone!! As of February 2015, not any more! It’s perfect!
    • [Update March 2015] Somehow it doesn’t show in my BT devices list in Android L. As a result, I can’t use it as a trusted agent for unlocking my phone.
      • To be honest, I don’t like using trust agents as they could be stolen together. So I’m not affected by this.
  • LG Electronics G Watch
    • The first one of the bunch that supports Farsi! You have to charge it every night, which I usually forget. Also design allows putting on charger the wrong way. And Android Wear doesn’t have a very obvious notification of “charging” state.
    • It was too bulky and heavy, and I wanted to take it off once I got home. So the steps and other features will be absent when most needed.
    • Despite bigger screen, still just a short version of messages is provided, and in most scenarios you have to get back to your phone for actual replying. Camera control is awkward and has no preview, useful for few scenarios.
    • Navigation was the biggest useful feature here.

Overall Wish-list

If I wanted to recommend a smartwatch given my experiences, I would look for these:

  • Battery life more than 5 days
  • Waterproof
  • Heart rate monitor is a plus
  • Not bulky, look slick so you can sleep while wearing it

And regarding my question in the title, I still can’t see a killer app yet except maybe being the controller for IoE appliances. Without it, the $200+ price tag is not justifiable for many.

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