If you’re anything like me, then your smartphone has grown to become an extension of your very existence. If you’re like me, then you probably rely on your smartphone for just about everything. It’s the trusty camera that you always have by your side. It’s your digital calendar for managing your appointments. It’s your address book, your memo pad, your exercise companion, your social networker…oh, and it makes phone calls too. The thing is that it can sometimes be inconvenient to whip out the smartphone just to read a text message or to adjust the volume on the music player (oh right, it plays music too).
Just as the Bluetooth handset enabled wireless handsfree calling, we are now in the dawn of a new mobile age with the rise of the smartwatch. It’s not quite mainstream just yet and it will certainly experience its fair share of growing pains, but as a very viable extension of the increasingly large smartphone in your pocket, the smartwatch could make your smart life that much smarter. Well, at least until Google Glass becomes the next big thing.
One of the most prominent smartwatch options on the market today is the Pebble. It started out with a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, but it is now available for pre-order by the general public. What makes it unique is that the Pebble utilizes an e-paper display, not unlike what you’d find on a Kindle or other e-reader devices. It works with both iOS and Android, comes preloaded with multiple watch faces, and it has a growing library of apps for ever expanding functionality. Available in five different colors, the Pebble is listed at $150.
While not as well known as the Pebble, the MetaWatch STRATA should be on your smartwatch radar too. It features a 96×96 pixel sunlight-readable, reflective mirror display, 5-7 days of battery life, 3-axis MEMS accelerometer, a water resistent display, and compatibility with Android 2.3+ and iOS 6+ smartphones. You get notifications for SMS and caller ID, as well as music controls, watch faces, a weather widget and more. The STRATA ships in five color combinations with a regular list price of $179, though it has been spotted on sale for as low as $129.
Stepping up the price scale is the i’m Watch with its unique capitalization scheme. This smartwatch is being marketed as “a latest generation device that makes the most of your smartphone.” From the color display, you have access to your calls, SMS, e-mails and apps, including three quick access buttons from the main homescreen. Just as more apps are being developed for Pebble, the i’m Watch has the “i’market” with “a world of apps to be discovered.” Starting from $299, the i’m Watch is made in Italy and comes with your choice of different colored straps.
Sony SmartWatch 2
Announced at the Mobile Asia Expo in Shanghai, the Sony SmartWatch 2 is the appropriately named successor to the first Sony SmartWatch. The “multi-functional message notification device” comes loaded with NFC for easy pairing, an Android app interface and music remote, a water-resistant design, and a higher resolution color display. You can use the Presentation Pal to control your presentations and you can use the mapping app to check your route on the go. There’s no word on pricing yet, but the first SmartWatch initially launched for $150. We’re expecting the Android-only SmartWatch 2 to be released in September.
And here is the elephant in the wrist-wrapped room. Ever since people started putting the previous-generation iPod nano in a wrist strap, they’ve been saying that Apple will create a true smartwatch of its own. It seems like an inevitability and the so-called iWatch could be the tipping point that will push the idea of the smartwatch into the mainstream, but you don’t have to wait for that to happen. You have several choices, as listed aboce, that you can consider to extend your smartphone experience to the convenience of your wrist.
Image credit: janitors / Flickr