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SMARTWATCHES - The good, the bad, the ugly
2017/10/21 5:19:15 PM - By Ryan- our Gadget guy
 
 
 
 
So we all like our gadgets, right? Of course we do. But when we’re hiking, biking and camping, it’s a little inconvenient to drag around our favourite electroncs. Sometimes they’re bulky, sometimes they’re heavy and almost always, they need a plug handy for a constant stream of juice! Personally, I feel if you’re outdoors, you should cut the Facebook cord and ignore Twitter for a while, but there are some things are necessary if you’re out and about … such as a GPS and also some way to call for help if the unexpected happens.

Enter the smartwatch – these are no longer your average timepieces that only give you the time and date. They don’t just wake you up in the morning with a simple alarm. These days, smartwatches are miniature computers. Their feature sets have exploded and these beasts do just about anything imaginable, just on a LOT smaller scale! Yes, some smartphones are small and light – we’re used to carrying them everywhere (and dropping them everywhere), but now the same features are available in wristwatch format that gives you the same capabilities and your average Android or iPhone. Got your attention now, didn’t I, then you’ve come to the right place…
 
 
CAPABILITIES
Gone are the days of watches that only have the date and time. Now you can pinpoint your location with high precision using GPS (the American Global Positioning System) as well as Glonass (the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System). They include sensors for altitude, pressure, compass heading. They track your speed, distance traveled, heart rate, fitness routine, sleep patterns, liquid intake, calories burned and how long you’ve been sitting behind that laptop without getting up - it’s like your own personal trainer on your wrist.

Some of these watches also have built in phones! That’s right – you can put a SIM card directly into some of them and make phone calls (and SMS) directly from the watch itself. While most of these smartwatches will tether to your cell phone and pass along messages and call information, they generally need to be within bluetooth range (about 10 meters) of the mobile phone in order to do this. The latest generation of smartwatches is starting to cut this cord and can completely replace your mobile phone if you need. This is a major convenience when you’re out jogging and taking a call on your wristwatch makes you look and feel like James Bond.
 
 
Coming from someone who has had 2 different versions of these smartphone/smartwatches over the years, I’ve seen many amazed looks when I’m talking to somebody and the people around me realize the watch is also a phone. Many times I’ve seen puzzled looks and then walked closer to these people just to see their reaction. Remember it’s primarily a speakerphone – so noisy environments don’t help. But they also have bluetooth, so you can easily use bluetooth earphones or headsets if you need. I have used them on a noisy street and in a car with good success.

Then these tiny miracles of technology are waterproof and hardened against shock, water and dust, to the point where daily wear and a minor natural disaster will be easily shrugged off. They’re tough, talented and good looking!
 
 
THE GOOD
These smartwatches have every amazing feature known to man and new apps are being written for them every day. Small and portable, we would hardly even notice they are there till we need them. So there’s a lot of good that they can provide. They say the best camera is the one you have with you – and I think the same goes for these handy gadgets – when you need it, they’re right there and you don’t even have to pull them out of a pocket.

Then they’re customiseable so you can really make them reflect your personality. The watch faces can be changed to mimic analog or digital displays and there are literally thousands of watch faces to choose from. Most of which can be further customized by changing fonts, colours, sizes, features and all kinds of other thing. And most of the time they have interchangeable watch bands too, so your adventurous spirit can be reflected in all manner of custom styles and colours.
 
 
Depending on the model you buy, they come with multiple operating systems. Most popular are AndroidWear and Apple’s iOS. And with that in mind, you know there’s an app store where you can download tons of amazing apps that do just about anything you need. Then you get Tizen which is used by Samsung – it’s not as popular but certainly is capable. And then there’s even those that have the full version of Android which will literally do everything your mobile phone can do.
 
 
THE BAD
For all the positives a smartwatch provides, it does have a down side. Firstly, they have small screens. And yes, you’re not going to stare at these displays for a long time, like the way you use a cell phone. But do keep in mind that they’re small and are not meant for hours of viewing even though they can also browse the web, show movies and display your Facebook profile.

Then there’s the battery life. Don’t expect these watches to last long on a charge, since they have tiny batteries driving the screen, GPS and everything else it has to offer. Typically, they are designed to last a day or two on a single charge, but can easily be recharged multiple times from a power bank while you sleep.

Not all software that runs on these watches if the same as their mobile phone counterparts. For instance, Android and AndroidWear are two totally different beasts. Although the software is very similar, the way the operating systems handle things differ. For instance, if you use WhatsApp on AndroidWear – you can receive messages but not reply to them – you would have to use SMS to reply which is not always convenient. Because this would be a dealbreaker for me, I would rather opt for a smartwatch that runs the full version of Android such as the Zeblaze Blitz or the ZGPAX S99.
 
 
THE UGLY
Some of these smartwatches are a little bulky. While I would select a watch design that I could use on all occasions, some of these are going to look a little out-of-place at a posh dinner party due to their size (Casio F20) and sporty colours. But there are versions that will do well in almost any environment, whether outdoors or with formal attire, such as the Samsung S3 Frontier or the Apple Watch.
 
 
Apple Watch 3
• Cellular
• dual-core processor
• GPS and GLONASS
• Barometric altimeter
• Water resistant 50 meters
• Heart rate sensor
• Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Ambient light sensor,
• Siri speaks
• Capacity 16GB.

More information - www.apple.com
Review - Jims Review Room (YouTube)
 
 
Casio WSD-F20
• Android Wear 2.0
• 1.32-inch dual layer display (320 x 300 pixels (332 ppi)
• 4 GB storage, 512 MB RAM
• lithium-ion 2 days battery life, 30-day battery life in Timekeeping mode,
• Pressure (air pressure, altitude) sensor, accelerometer, gyrometer, compass (magnetic) sensor

More information - www.casio.com
Review - Mr. Mobile / Michael Fisher (YouTube)
 
 
Garmin Fenix 5X
• Proprietary OS
• 240 x 240 pixels
• 12 GB memory
• Rechargeable lithium-ion, 12 days in smartwatch mode, 20 hours in GPS mode, 50 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode, GPS enabled
• Heart rate sensor
• Compass
• Gyroscope
• Altimeter
• Barometer

More information - www.garmin.com
Review - Riz Knows (YouTube)
 
 
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier
• Electronic SIM card (e-SIM)
• Samsung Pay
• IP68 certified
• Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 360 x 360 pixels, 1:1 ratio (~278 ppi density)
• Corning Gorilla Glass SR+
• Dual-core 1.0 GHz
• 4 GB, 768 MB RAM
• Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, A-GPS, GLONASS
• Accelerometer, gyro, heart rate, barometer
• Non-removable Li-Ion 380 mAh battery. Up to 72 h (mixed usage) (2G) / Up to 72 h (3G)

More information - www.samsung.com
Review - Phone Arena (YouTube)
 
 
Sony Smartwatch 3 SWR50
• 1.6” Transflective Display 320 x 320 pixel
• Android Wear
• IP68 rated
• Quad ARM A7, 1.2 Ghz
• 512 MB RAM, 4 GB eMMC
• Voice, touch and gesture input
• 420mA (up to 2 days normal use)
• Bluetooth® 4.0, Wi-Fi, NFC
• Micro USB
• Ambient light sensors, Accelerometer, Compass, Gyro, GPS

More information - www.sonymobile.com
Review - Android Authority (YouTube)
 
 
Suunto Traverse Alpha
• altimeter
• digital compass
• waterproof (328 ft)
• 14 day battery
• GPS
• altimeter
• digital compass

More information - www.suunto.com
Review - RizKnows (YouTube)
 
 
Zeblaze Blitz
• Android 5.1
• MTK6580 1.3GHz Quad Core
• 4GB ROM/512MB RAM
• 1.33 inch Gorilla Glass 3, 360*360 pixel
• 480 mAh Polymer lithium ion battery
• Nano SIM

More information - www.zeblaze.com
Review - Gadget Friendly YouTube)
 
 
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