Look what I got!
Okay, so, a little while ago, in a thread, I had a sporty debate with 88keys, in a discussion about the future of watches and whether they pose a threat of sorts to the future of "regular" watches. The chat stuck with me, since I'd long thought about getting a smartwatch, and my general reservations are certainly being addressed by the industry (including one I just saw, that now has a camera!).
Well, as the fates would have it, I found myself at the phone store a few days ago, getting an upgraded device for my second phone line, and T-Mobile was in the process of trying to update customer billing plans. So, they pitched me on a lower priced plan, that would add a third line and qualify me to receive a nearly "free" device plus lower my overall monthly bill. Good deal, right?
The first offer was for some GPS car thing that monitors your car, but I don't really want Big Brother Google in my car, and my OBD-II port is already occupied anyway with a Cobb Accessport, babysitting the mods on my Bimmer, so they pointed out my other option....
A smartwatch! Specifically, the ZTE Quartz, currently on my wrist.
Sadly, they didn't know much about it, which nearly made me refuse it, but, recalling my discussion with 88keys (thanks to you!) I took the time, in store, to look up the specs and was impressed.
It has been very well reviewed, best priced for what it provides, with many of the specs of "flagship" smartwatches, and noted to be an ideal introduction into the smartwatch world for the newbie to these devices, plus has a very impressive 36 hour battery, and is its own stand alone device -- yes, has its own SIM card and its own phone number, and I can call it and place calls from it, and send and receive messages, all while leaving my cell phone at home.
So, I did the deed. Total fees were ten bucks. Retail is about $200, so even at full price it's pretty darn affordable, compared to any decent watch, obviously, and just for a smart device that's not much to pay. Less than most phones for pete's sake. So, ten dollars was a no brainer.
After three days of use, am I convert? Will I stop wearing my mechanicals? Well, it's a matter of do I want to give up the artistry (or "soul" as 88keys has so well said) of what amounts to a piece of jewelry, for the convenience and practicality of a wrist device that does so much than tell the time. Really, it depends, I think, on how much you like, need, or even rely on today's tech. I could see occasions where I'd prefer it, but don't see it replacing those times I want to wear a traditional watch and don't care about being hyper connected to the world. And, as I've always said, it does have its limits. So, as 88keys suggested, no, it doesn't do everything, but, for what it does, a smartwatch is hard to beat.
For me it's been a tougher call than I thought. At first I was ready to pummel it with a ball peen hammer, because it wouldn't accept calls, wouldn't cooperate with texting, seemed buggy with the face, was not intuitive in use, and represented all I initially thought I'd hate about a smartwatch, as a device needing constant attention, light years away from wear and go, worries about the battery running down while fiddling with it to get it working, etc., but I stuck with it, and it quickly grew on me.
I chased the issues down, got them solved, and found myself enjoying it (and wearing it predominantly), especially the fact that I could, for the first time ever, feel fine leaving my phone at home and still being able to be in touch as needed, although it does not have stand alone navigation (nor a heartbeat reader -- so, some sacrifices at this price point). And, even on the wrist while having my phone with me, as 88keys had stated, the subtle savings of time in dealing with stuff, from off the wrist, so to speak, instead of from the phone, do add up.
Not to mention -- Dick Tracy anyone??? For those who are old enough to remember, he's the Detective that had the fancy "radio" wrist watch, the gadget of all gadgets, for those of us who like such things. So, yes, something very cool about modern tech in such a small and convenient package. Mic and speaker are incredible in this little footprint. Calls are crystal clear.
While I don't know that it will replace the wrist watch (thank goodness for two arms, haha, although, thus far, I haven't had the nerve to wear both) I can say that the cell phone industry should perhaps be more worried. Camera tech on smartwatches is already arriving, and about all a device would need next is a projecting screen of some sort and suddenly a big bulky phone doesn't seem so necessary, or attractive. I could see a day where a smart enough smartwatch makes a phone superfluous.
For now, I can see it will have its uses, although time will tell how much. I like it more than I thought I would, but I am still mindful of its limits, and it certainly can't compete as wrist art. If there are times I need the tech, it's certainly handy to have, and I'd encourage anyone to try one out before writing them off prematurely. I'd say I was never "against" them, but clearly I hadn't bought one yet. Now that I own one, I still feel correct in my general (and industry accepted) critiques, but I see those limits being overcome in the future, which is exciting.
Things I like: Independence from my phone, even if in a limited use sense. Augmented convenience even when linked to my phone. Can take calls from the watch placed to the watch, or can pick up calls placed to my phone. No more missed notification when my phone has been tossed out of reach or buried in paperwork. The gadget factor. Huge variety of watch faces to choose from for how you want the watch to "look" (no, a "digital" Maurice LaCroix Masterpiece isn't anything near to the real one, but it's still nice to stare at it). Battery life seems decent (although I'd like to buy a second charging cradle to keep at work, since I'm not sure, under heavy use, how it will fare -- under light use the battery easily lasts from morning to night on a single charge). Amazingly clear calls. Sufficient water resistance for life's happenings. Size, I found to be perfect, but I do like a larger watch.
Things I don't like (but are fixable or easily overcome): Band was very cheap feeling. Already replaced it and am on the search for a better one. Not great in the "looks" department (but not ugly, and, let's face it, with most of the focus on what's happening on the screen, most of these are pretty boring in build). Initial set up was a chore, but that's a one time thing. Missing independent navigation, better fitness sensor, light sensor, functional bezel or crown, but that's understandable at the price point (which I didn't even have to pay!), and this is, as advertised, a good "intro" to the smartwatch world.
Is it a world where I'll stay? Yes, I can say I'm impressed with this tech, and excited to see where the industry is going, for sure. I'll definitely be inclined now to be more aware of developments and will likely "upgrade" just as I've moved up in regular watches.
So, my usual wall of text, sorry everyone, but in summation, thanks to 88keys for the discussion and I've emerged as both an owner, and an appreciative one, of my own smartwatch.