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December 1, 2015

A Watch for Christmas, Part 2

Last week I introduced you to Smartwatches.  I think they are terrific gadgets…especially for the more geeky among us.  They provide lots of information as I mentioned last week when I outlined many things the two I have are able to do.  We will compare them today. By the way, the prices listed are for the versions I have (first version of each brand) not the newer versions now available.  Check current prices if you are interested in these and online for other brand names.   

The Moto 360 (original version $250) is a much prettier watch.  It has a very colorful, bright sharp screen and a tremendous number of interesting and useful watch faces.  As a matter of fact I have even made a couple of my own.  I can see very little pixilation unless I get my eyes closer than necessary to the watch. 

When you swing your wrist up to look it lights up so you can see it for a few seconds, then goes back to black.  It stays lit for a very short period of time.  You may have five items you want to check and have time to see two or three. 

There is one button control and touch screen control.  When you get a phone call you can see the number calling, and the picture of the caller if it is in your address book.  You can slide the face one way to answer and another to hang up.  You cannot use the phone to talk to the caller (Dick Tracey would be sad) so you still have to pull your phone out of your pocket or wherever it may be to answer. 

The largest problem that I have with the Moto 360 is the battery life.  It charges so you do not have to replace batteries; however, a max of 12-14 hours on a full charge is not good performance in my book.   

The Pebble (original version $149) watch faces are more limited and not color but consistent with most regular digital watches today.  It has the standard gray/black screen. (See DoubleClicks.info for a few views.)  However, that being said the watch is constantly viewable.  It uses e-ink which allows me to see the watch all the time unless in the dark.  As with the Moto 360 you flip your watch-arm up as you normally would to view the time, then the light comes on.

The Pebble has four button control without touchscreen.  The biggest PLUS for me is that once a week is usually the only charging it needs. 

They are both interesting and good functional gadgets.  Still with the charge time and the constantly visible watch faces I vote for the Pebble, even though it is not as cool and "glamorous" looking as the Moto 360.  Pebble now has some color versions which I have not seen so it may be even better now.  

Below are the Moto 360 (left) and the Pebble (right) with their chargers.

Moto 360 being charged                                Pebble shown with charger

November 24, 2015

A Watch for Christmas, Part 1

A Watch for Christmas

I recently had a chance to test out two smartwatches for an extended period of time: The Moto 360 by Motorola which came out in 2014 and the Pebble from 2012.  The Pebble was a Kickstarter project which raised over $10 million in 30 days by donations from complete strangers who liked the idea.  That was the biggest and quickest of Kickstarter at the time.

What is a “Smartwatch?”  Today “Smart” means connected to the internet like a smart-TV.  A Smart TV allows you to access the internet and watch programs there instead of on cable or broadcast shows.  So basically smartwatches are connected to the internet currently through your smartphone’s apps.  They connect to each other with Bluetooth, some with Wi-Fi, then on to the internet.

They are not quite as “new” as you may think.  The first smartwatch was called the “Wrist Computer” which was released in 1985 under the name of “Seiko Epson.”  There were others of note leading up to the current day selection of many brands and models.

They allow you to see who is calling, answer your phone, read text messages, emails, weather alerts, temperatures, battery strength of the watch or phone and more.  They both allow you to see text messages along with from and subject lines of emails and maybe a few lines of the email.  However, neither will let you answer those emails and texts with anything but prewritten messages.  These are similar to, “OK,” “I’m running late,” “I just left,” etc.  You can also create some of your own canned responses.  The two I have can give you maps that vibrate before you need to turn.  So basically they are gadgets.  Smartwatches seem to be coming out with new “smart” features most every day.  Of course there are apps which allow you to sleep better, wake up gently, count steps you take, inform you of how many calories you have burned by taking those steps and more.

The Pebble has a rectangular portrait shape and the Moto 360 was the first round smartwatch.  But as round as it is, it has what is referred to as a “flat tire.”  The bottom of the screen has a dark, flat area where the ambient light sensor and display drivers are contained.

Pebble Watch Face

Pebble Watch Face

Moto 360 Watch Face

Moto 360 Watch Face

They both have unusual chargers that do not “plug” into the watch but do have a regular USB port on the power end.  The Pebble has a magnetic charging wire with four posts that attach to on the left side of the watch.  The Moto 360 lays in a cradle to charge wirelessly except for the power to the cradle wire.

Next week we will take a look at my comparison between the two types of smart watches as they are different in many ways.

December 9, 2014

Tech Christmas, Part 1

Wearable Tech is one of those technology terms that makes some sense.  It is a technology device that you wear like clothes or jewelry.  However, it does more than just look pretty. 

Here are a couple of the more popular items that seem to be making lots of news (or advertising) this time of year.

First up, how about a pair of video sunglasses?  Wear them while you are at the beach, snow skiing, hunting, etc. and capture good video of what you are seeing.  Take your new glasses home, hook them up to your computer and show it to all of your friends. 

Look around and you can find them from around $30 to $400 a pair.  You next question is, why the large price range?  As with all technology products the costs of specifications add up.  The less expensive pairs have lower "film" speeds, fewer pixels, cheaper lenses, poor battery rates, etc. 

Fitbit choicesAnother popular item this year is wearable fitness products.  One company that seems to do more than some of the others is "Fitbit" (fitbit.com).  Most of the Fitbit products look like a wrist watch without the watch.  The basic models keep track of the number of steps you have taken, distances, calories burned and stairs you go up and down all day.  They say that at night it measures your sleep quality, helps you learn to sleep better and will even wake you in the morning.      

The more advanced Fitbit models can track your pulse, sync information wirelessly to your computer, has GPS tracking and can send you notifications from your phone and other features. 

There are also a plethora of Smart Watches for Android, iPhone and Windows platforms.  Some are rated very good; however, some are rated not so good.  Research online before you purchase one.  They are fun but somewhat expensive.  As always with new technology the prices will drop, but if you are on the tech-cutting-edge you may want to get one now.  It will show you emails, alarms, weather, and most everything your phone will but it is on your arm.  Guess what?  They also show you the time and date. 

RinglyAnother very recent addition to the wearables is, "Ringly" (ringly.com).  It is similar to the Fitbit and Smart Watches but is smaller and does similar tricks; but is mostly for alerts.  Priced from $195 to $260.

Water Dancing Droplet SpeakersFor the more budget conscious how about a pair of Water Dancing Droplet Speakers? (bit.ly/1vnbQQz)  Once your music starts playing, the speakers will send colorful jets of water up and down in time with the beat. The site is in the UK but they are $39 in US dollars. 

 

HFHiCALL Now for one of my favorites which I have been talking about for a couple of years.  Hi-Fun HFHiCALL phone gloves.  These are fairly normal looking gloves with a Bluetooth connection to your phone.  There is an earpiece in the thumb and a microphone in the pinkie finger.  You got it!  Fold your three middle fingers down and talk to the hand.  These run from $39 to $75 depending on the version, color, etc.  The best prices appear to be on Amazon.

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