All I Want for Christmas is a Smart-Phone-Watch

i'M watch colorsI consider myself to be an early adopter, willing to take a chance on new technology, patient or self-loathing enough to sift through videos when it doesn’t work just right, or do what the commercials promised in 2 seconds flat. But this year, I’m looking for efficiency, function, and style. Specifically and in that order.

Short of having a chip installed in my earlobe (willing trial participant here!) I consider my phone to be an extension of my daily life. It keeps me organized, empowers me to work from anywhere, connects me with loved ones, alerts me of danger and makes me laugh. But… it’s also my biggest nemesis, something in my hand or within reach when I am working, driving, shopping, walking, working out. A buzzing, chirping, blinking distraction, keeping me from being present and engaged. A former colleague of mine once said to our IT team ‘Go ahead, take the BlackBerry out of her hand. Another one will grow back like the Terminator.’ I’m sorry to say, this was not far from the truth, and only got worse when I adopted my first iPhone.

But it’s not just me! The average person checks their smartphone between 110-150 times per day. To text, call, email, read, socialize on social media, escape, and… to check the time. So would it not make perfect sense to bring something you reach for so often to your wrist? Freeing up your hands & eyes for things that came long before the land of internet and iPhones. Like eye contact in meetings, dinner conversation, handshakes, hugs, shopping (like real dig through racks, try on shoes kind of shopping) driving, playing golf, going for a run, you get the idea.

So what’s a girl like me to do with a dilemma like this?

Relocate the distraction.

Watch notifications, while presenting the same information as your phone do not encourage you to reply, respond or react. It would be absurd to think you’ll sit there and type out an email response on your wrist with one finger. For those of us who fell victim to Phantom Vibrations, just seeing what’s going on may ease the anxiety of not knowing what’s happening. Smartphones, while powerful, valuable devices are keeping us from true engagement, participation and impair our spatial awareness.

In short: Sometimes your smartphone makes you act like a jerk. So let’s move our music, message notifications and more out of our hands, away from our faces, and confine them to a place within view… but oddly enough, out of reach.

 

Here are this season’s best of breed Smartwatch solutions. Check them out, and let Santa which one’s on your list. Your loved ones will thank you.

pebblesPebble @Pebble 

The friendliest device out of the bunch Pebble makes Smartphone integration look easy. It’s stylish design, seamless compatibility and near infinite list of customization options offers users all of the sexy features of the other devices for nearly a Benjamin less.

Can: Display notifications of your choice in a layout of your liking, or design your own watch face. Incoming calls, email previews, text messages, calendar appointments, weather and fitness information all presented to you in various layouts. The newly opened Pebble App Store promises to bring even more options to this increasingly popular device. Screen Size: 1.26-inch (144 x 168 pixel epaper display) Camera: Use PebbleCam to control your iPhone camera without a Wi-Fi connection. Reviews Say: Best value, easiest interface. Left to be desired; a built in camera and color display.

Price: $150.00 Works with: Android, iPhone & Windows Phone

 

Galxy Gear in 6 colorsSamsung Galaxy Gear @SamsungMobileUS

The Galaxy Gear definitely looks like the ‘next big thing’ but delivers a surprisingly lack luster list of features, some questionably market ready. Sleek style and catchy colors while attractive are still hard to justify with such a limited feature set.

Can: Make & take Calls, pictures, send texts, play media, check the weather, and dictate commands to S voice (Siri Substitute) utilizing a small but growing number of Galaxy Gear Apps.  Screen Size: 1.6-inch (320×320 pixels) Camera: 1.9-megapixel Reviews Say: S Voice control is slightly delayed & needs some work, speakerphone doesn’t compensate for background noise.

Price: $299.99 Works with: ONLY Samsung Galaxy Note 2, 3 & S4 Mobile Phones

 

metawatchesMetaWatch Strata & Frame @Meta_Watch

Sleek & functional design offers a good distraction from this phone’s limited offering and lack luster display. However the rugged Strata is the only Smartwatch designed for the outdoor enthusiast. Its big sister the MetaWatch Frame offers smoother styling better suited for executives.

Can: Display pertinent notifications through a 4 widget screen; Text, Calls, Weather, Email, GPS info and more. Screen Size: (25mm x 25mm, 96 x 96 pixels) Camera: None Reviews Say: Built to last and withstand true outdoor activity. Limited notifications and widgets aren’t quite what you’d expect from a Smartwatch.

Price: Strata $179.99 | Frame $229.99 Works with: Android & iPhone

 

sony smartwatchesSony SmartWatch 2

Sony didn’t exactly deliver with the second addition to their Smartwatch series. Failure to include a microphone, speaker or camera limits the device’s ability to compete. Redeemed by a growing list of apps and full color, sunlight friendly screen, looks were clearly not an afterthought.

Can: Screen calls, email and text alerts even if you spill a little coffee on its water resistant casing and full color sunlight readable OLCD screen. Screen Size: 1.6-inch (220 x 176 pixels) Camera: None Reviews Say: At first glance a strong alternative to the Galaxy gear, but shaky software and limited compatibility options are definite drawbacks.

Price: $199.00 Works with: Android

 

martian-passport-watchesMartian Passport Watch @MartianWatches

A smartphone watch in disguise the Martian Passport Watch looks more like a James Bond gadget than companion to your iPhone or Android device. Which, for the wearable tech adverse may be a perfect match. The thin OLED strip at the base of the watch face displays notifications while the two buttons on the left side of its Analog face control phone features. Advanced customization options even allow you to adjust the strength of watch vibrations, for the inner perfectionist in all of us.

Can: Make or take calls, notify you of texts, emails, weather, driving directions, social media alerts and as much more as you choose, all managed from your phone. Integration with Siri and Google Now drive most of the commands on this device. Screen Size: 1.53 x 1.46 inch face with a 96 x 16 pixel OLED display bar Camera: Remote camera control only Reviews Say: A gentleman’s smartwatch, straight out of the pages of GQ. Initial set up is a little rocky, but well worth the effort.

Price: $299.00 Works With: Android & iPhone

 

im-Watch-SmartwatchI’m Watch @imcollection

An Italian made luxury Smartwatch for today’s fashion forward techie. This elegant timepiece comes in a variety of precious metals, colors and offers a sunlight friendly color LCD screen.

Can: Customize your full color display & notifications with hundreds of I’m Watch Apps, viewing text, phone, email and other notifications when and how you choose. Screen Size: 1.54-inch (240×240 pixels) Camera: None Reviews Say: Cumbersome set up with less than stellar battery life.

Price: Color Collection $349.00 | Titanium Tech Collection $999.00 | Jewel Collection $1,500.00+ Works with: Android & iPhone

 

Smartwatches to watch for in 2014

The Smartwatch rumor mill is spilling over these days. Keep an eye out for these developing models in the New Year:

The Google Gem: Google’s stepping stone of wearable technology, predicted to prepare consumers for widespread use of Google Glass. With a richer feature set, sleeker design and broader compatibility, experts anticipate the Google Gem will give Samsung’s Galaxy Gear a run for its money, saving buyers $50-100 over the Galaxy Gear.

Apple iWatch: If you saw any of the iWatch Patent diagrams, trademark applications, or other industry fodder circulating earlier this year the iWatch will come as no surprise. Apple may be letting others beat them to market (or figure it out for them) but don’t discount their ability to dominate the consumer marketplace. Should the iWatch arrive in 2014, and look anything like the mock ups we’ve seen online, you can expect to see those long lines of iDiehards camping outside their local Apple store, credit cards in hand.

Last but not least Nokia & Microsoft are rumored to be working on a Windows Phone compatible Smartwatch, offering similar features to their current predecessors.

 

Thank you for sharing your day with us!

If you have an device or app you’d like to share, I’d love to hear it! Feel free to post below, or share it with me on Twitter @ChelseyLambert.

About Chelsey Lambert

Chelsey Lambert served as the Chicago Bar Association's Law Practice Management Technology, Trainer and Coordinator from Nov 2013 - Sept. 2014