Are Smartwatches Really Worth It


are smart watches really worth it

In the new century, getting overwhelmed with how technological advancements are taking place in each and everything we do in our lives is just unimaginable. We can quickly lose track of what the latest improvements are taking place and how they are made to facilitate our life’s. In all honesty, who has the time to keep a track on the latest gadgetry that gets launched into the world and keep abreast with what minute changes these advancements bring into the whole picture of “living smart”. At the same time, it is difficult also to keep us at bay as soon as we see a new gadget that catches our attention, and we can’t resist into going out and buying it right off the bat. No matter how much it costs. Therefore, in this article, I would be covering in a lot of detail as to what is the difference between seeing your time from a traditional watch as opposed to these latest smartwatches that I have been brought into our life’s.

The main aim of the topic at hand is, are smartwatches worth it? Should you be going out and spending your hard-earned money into watches that are not only capable of showing you time but also provide you with a plethora of features that would otherwise not had been possible using your regular Chrono watch? Then the plain answer to this topic is, “yes”! Smartwatches are worth the investment and one should get their hands on one from a reputed manufacturer. Not only this, but these watches are now so brilliant that they also provide you with fitness trackers, heart rate monitors and so many extra features, which we would be going through in the article below.

Smartphones, when during their infancy stages; were meant to be high-end devices, which were only meant to be used by executives, CEO’s, corporate professionals and the similar. But in the modern days, these smartphones are a common thing in any household. Heck, I have got almost three personal smartphones of my own. Do not ask me why! *wink*. Similar is the case with these smartwatches. These gadgets are still in the early stages of development, and the manufacturers are doing everything they could to make them an integral part of our daily routine and maximise the way these devices respond to our commands.

Grab yourself a cup of coffee and a morning biscuit and read away!

What Is the Average Price of a Smartwatch?

Throughout this article, I would continually give references to how a smartwatch and a smartphone relates equally to one another.

So to further dwell on this topic, the smartphones nowadays start from anywhere in the region of $100 and go all the way to $1,000. Similarly, the smartwatches begin at around $100 and go all the way to $500. So not much of a difference their price-wise. But do not let the price on these smartwatches throw you off. The sole reason behind spending money on a smartwatch is yet to be covered down in the topic.

What Are the Features That Make A Smartwatch Worth the Price?

The capabilities and the features a smartwatch offers are varied and differ based on each respective model that there exists in the market out there. Most of these smartwatches that are now being manufactured are geared to meet both the ends. Any high-end smartwatch would have features such as fitness tracking, heart rate monitoring utility, GPS, calorie monitor, activity tracker and sleep monitoring and much more.

A Brief History on Smartwatches

A Brief History on Smartwatches

1st Generation Smartwatches

The first-ever company to manufacture a watch that can safely fall in the category of a smartwatch was built back in 1972. The company’s name was the famous Hamilton Watch Company along with a joint venture from ElectroData Inc company. This company developed the world’s first digital watch (yes, you may call it the smartwatch). It was a LED prototype named “Pulsar”. This watch sold out for a whopping $2,100 and had an 18-carat gold wrapped around it.

If you keep the inflation into considering, then in today’s world this watch would cost you a sum of $12,300. Which in my opinion is quite a hefty price to pay for a watch that “only” shows you the time with the press of a button!

Seiko Company Being the Second in Line

In the year 1983, soon after the launch of digital watches by Hamilton and other companies; Japanese companies saw the opportunity in this niche and manufactured and launched in the market, the very famous T001 watch which you can see being worn by the famous “James Bond” in the ever so loved movie “THE OCTOPUSSY”. This watch on its own had a 1 ¼ inch screen that composed of two different sections. The top part was built to showcase the traditional watch features of that time, such as showing you the time, date, setting up an alarm and what not. While the screen section below that had a portable TV, receiver attached to it that was used to display the videos. The output quality of this video was abysmal.

If you are keen to know more about the famous company “Seiko” and its watches adventures, then you would be amazed to know of a second watch, namely “Data 2000” that got released shortly after the T001, which was capable to store approximately two-thousand characters in the watch by the help of a keyboard connected externally.

Shortly after the launch of the Data 2000, Seiko released another model that was capable of hooking up to any personal computer of that time. This model was named as the “RC-1000”.

But the closet ever Seiko could go towards calling their watches a smartwatch was their RC-20, commonly referred to as the “wrist computer”. If you are an IT geek like me, then the below table showcases the processing power of the RC-20 watch.

Features of RC-20 Watch

8-bit Microprocessor (Mode: Z-80)
2 KB of RAM
8 KB of Storage

World’s First-Ever Wireless Watch

In the year 1994, a company named “Timex Datalink” launched the only watch of the time, into the world that was capable of connecting to your computer via a wireless connection. This watch was developed by the joint collaboration of Timex datalink and the famous Microsoft. This piece of technological equipment at the time was a benchmark of the latest concepts and trends, and as much as “NASA” used these watches in a few of their space missions. Some also say that the launch of this watch was the basis of Microsoft’s ever ending advancements in the field of microcomputers and what they are offering to us today and what they hold for the future.

Linux Also Built A Smartwatch

In 1998, Steven Mann; the man behind the creation of the Linux Smartwatch. Owing to the technology, Steve Mann was given the name “FATHER OF THE WEARABLE COMPUTER” title just because of the tremendous work he contributed in the field of technology.

If you want to know who created and perfected the imaging methods pertaining to HDR? Yours sincerely, Steve Mann!

Samsung Not to Be Forgotten

In early 1999, Samsung builds the first-ever smartwatch with a monochrome LCD screen which had telecommunications module built into it. The model was called the “SPH-WP10”, and the user could hold a conversation over a cellular connection for a whopping 90 minutes. That sir is a lot, given you have this length of the call via a watch! Eventually, Samsung gave up on the concept of perfecting this technology and stopped producing more models until recently when they started investing heavily into modifying the already present smartwatches in the modern world. Let us give it to them that Samsung is indeed doing a great job!

IBM’s WatchPad

In the year 2000, IBM stepped into the picture and perfected the what the other Linux smartwatches didn’t offer. The WatchPad came into production and took the world by a storm. But eventually, they ended up in concluding that this version of the smartwatch lacked operational efficiency and thus ended up revising it to a WatchPad version 1.5 that had

  1. An accelerometer
  2. A fingerprint sensor (Hello Robotics)
  3. And a vibrating module (Who remembers the Nokia era)

The WatchPad 1.5 had features as of below

Linux 2.2
320 x 240 QVGA (touch-sensitive display)
Bluetooth
8 MB of RAM
16 MB of Storage (Primarily: Flash)

Fossil Launched Wrist PDA’s

In the very beginning of the 2000s, the company Fossil launched the first-ever wrist-PDA. This was on a revolutionary design and set the foundation blocks for the smartwatches that we see today.

With a raise of hands, who here had used PDA’s?

This smartwatch device could perform tasks that were otherwise were not possible in the earlier watches of smartwatches ever came into production. Features such as a calendar, to-do-list, etc. were incorporated into these smart wrist PDA’s and the most exuberating bit of this device was the launch of the world’s first virtual keyboard, a beautiful touch screen and an infrared port. Remember switching those tele’s off and on while walking through the electronic goods showrooms? I know I did!

This device also came along with a stylus pen giving the owner the flexibility to either use their fingertips or the stylus to key in the data directly into the gadget. This device was well received by the technology critics and enjoyed while it lasted.

Microsoft’s Attempt to Creating A Smartwatch

In the year 2004, the famous Microsoft tried their best to reinvent the wheel and launched yet another smartwatch called the Smart Personal Objects Technology (acronym: SPOT). This was their attempt to uphold the IoT (Internet of Things) concept and enhance its approach. The biggest ever mistake that Microsoft did during the launch of this smartwatch was that it closed the network integration of this watch with its ecosystem and thus it met its inevitable demise. Quiet pity the fact, I personally really liked the SPOT’s design back in the days.

Modern Day Smartwatches

Modern Day Smartwatches

As you must have had observed by now, that it had been almost 30 years now since the first-ever smartwatch came into existence. Since then, the race of fine-tune this concept and bring in a piece of technology that is not only suitable for high-end users but also to those people who are regular users and consumers.

During the year 2013, Omate was the only company that had designed a genuinely independent smartwatch capable of carrying out the tasks that any modern smartwatch does. All these smartwatches now are just the enhanced version of what Omate had initially launched. Their version of the smartwatch was called the “TrueSmart” that allowed the user to make calls, use the functionality of maps and was quickly able to use apps available from the Google play store.

Enough with the history lessons on the smartwatches? I would here allow you to go about and refill that empty cup with another coffee shot! Go on.

What Are the True Features of a Smartwatch That Could Benefit You?

The technology is ever-changing, and so are the features in these smartwatches. Well, this applies to almost all gadgets. No one would want to spend the same amount of money on a new gadget which has similar features to a device that they already own! You would be – a unicorn! If you do this.

Let me take you through a list of essential features that would allow you to understand and get the gist of the subject how and why are smartwatches worth your hard-earned money!

Heart Rate Monitoring

Heart Rate Monitoring

This is by far an essential feature that each one of us could benefit from. With this tremendous neat utility, you can very easily find out what your heart rate is during a long-walk or after a sweating exercise. There is an option to keep track of your heartrates throughout a specified period. You can very easily sync this with your smartphone which then allows you to create charts and reports. And in case of an abnormality noticed, you can then very quickly table it with your GP or your doctor. The heart-rate monitoring serves as a primary coach to you who provides you with Real-Time feedback on how your heart is responding to the stress you are exerting to through your body.

One of the prime and the most crucial feature in a smartwatch that you aim to buy is the Heart Rate monitoring feature. This can be a life-saving feature in worst-case scenarios and could be the toggle switch between something happening to you or not. This serves as a pre-alert and keeps you on toes. Remember, moderation! Do not just keep on hopping around with your smartwatch on the wrist, just because you want to have a peek at what your heart rate is every minute of the day!

Sleep Tracking feature

Sleep Tracking feature

This feature in any modern smartwatch allows you to track how many times you have gotten up during your sleep. If you were restless, or if you cough, sneezed or did anything that breaks one’s healthy sleeping-cycle. This data is useful and helps you to establish the reasons behind you feeling tired throughout the day. It is a commonly known concept that if you do not have a sound sleep it hurts your overall well-being and thus you feel sluggish and tired throughout the day.

Once enough data is collected on your smartwatch viz. Sleep Tracking, you can then also sync this data to your smartphone, thus allowing you to see trends and patterns of your sleep, which can then be used to seek medical advice from your doctor. This is a must-have feature in any new smartwatch that you aim to buy!

Sports Tracking Feature

Sports Tracking Feature

I am truly and honestly shocked by the accuracy of data that is provided by the smartwatches that have the sports tracking feature embedded into their framework. This data is useful and at any given point in time is accurate as much as 95%. It is a real motivator to find out if you have met your daily, weekly physical activities goals and thus allows you to stay abreast with all the milestones. It can also show you a graph of how you are doing in terms of total distance walked, stairs climbed and a plethora of other features.

One of the excellent benefits of having the sports tracking feature in your smartwatch is that you can set your benchmarks. So, whenever you are out walking, cycling, swimming or whatnot, you can easily compete with yourself as the device would inform you if you have beaten your already accomplished goals. This, in my opinion, is a great way to keep yourself motivated and enthused and also you can always be making that extra effort to cross the milestones already set by your device. A sense of self-gratification I must say!

In the previous years, these features were present; but you had to keep a track and carry multiple devices on you along with your phones, to ensure that you do not miss out on the critical milestones. But with the inception of smartwatches, this has now become a breeze and a walk in the park as any decent smartwatch out there in the market is capable of providing you with these features. A significant takeaway right there!

One last example to convince my readers, that smartwatches are the “ONLY” gadget you require, is if you are a swimmer! You previously never had the option of tracking your swims unless you carry a dedicated device such as the Polar A360. Similarly, other models were either not water-resistant or perhaps were too bulky to carry. But with the continuous development and the way the smartwatches are being enhanced, you now have the option to keep a track on your swim distance, cycles and time, thus giving you the most accurate results. And to top that off, these smartwatches that are built now are water-resistant thus giving you the peace of mind and comfort to have your swims calculated while having a device present on your hand at all times that can measure and give you the most accurate reports of your performance.

GPS Option to Track the Distance and Speed

If doing sports is at all important to you, then I would suggest you make sure that the smartwatch you are about to pick up has a built-in GPS module. This is so to ensure that you can track the distance covered by you when having the smartwatch on are accounted for.

Back in my college days, I used to commute from my home to the college on my sports cycle. The only reason I had a sports cycle was the privilege of having an odometer on my cycle. That used to provide me information such as my current speed, and the total distance covered in miles (in some countries KM). This used to motivate me significantly as to how much distance I have cycled and was a great conversation starter with my Physical Education (PE) instructors. A feature must have I would say in any smartwatch that you purchase. Go ahead and spend that extra few dollars to pick up the smartwatch that has this privilege built-in into the watch.

Smart-Notifications

One of the added benefits of owning a smartwatch is the ability to receive your smartphone notifications synced directly with your smartwatch. This feature comes with loads of social benefits as well. For example, if you are at a conference or a meeting; where you may feel odd to draw out your smartphone from the pocket sitting amongst other people; having your smartphone synced with your smartwatch via Bluetooth, gives you the benefit of seeing your essential messages, email alerts, incoming calls by turning your wrist and looking at your smartwatch display. Most of the latest smartwatch now even allow you to type directly onto them with the help of a virtual keyboard, thus giving you complete control. The smart notifications feature comes with vibration technology, that whenever you receive a notification on your smartphone; your smartwatch vibrates thus allowing you to be notified of any incoming alerts on your device.

Do You Run And Listen To Music

Do You Run And Listen To Music

If you are into running on the tracks with your headphones bobbing all about, then this one is for you. Before the use of smartwatches, I too used to carry my earphones with me that I used primarily to listen to the music I had stored on my smartphone. This got wholly taken away when the whole playlists could easily be synched with the smartwatches and that too in an offline mode. So no need for you to carry your expensive smartphones with you while you are running. And you can seamlessly listen to the music via your smartwatches.

Since the idea and concept are new, only a handful of smartwatch companies that I know of is doing this — primarily being Garmin, Samsung and Fitbit. There are certain limitations though. These manufacturers only currently support Spotify and Deezer.

Now, I don’t want to scare you by saying that these manufacturers only support Spotify and Deezer. There are, however some manufacturers of smartwatches that allow you the option to sync your music files without the need of services like Spotify and Deezer. I will leave it to you to decide whether that is something you would want.

Time, Date & Other stuff

Duh! You weren’t expecting this one now, were you? The sole purpose of a watch is to see the time. I am all into the concept of being able to check the current time on your smartphone, but that for me is a hectic thing. Since I would need to continuously draw out my phone from the pocket, unlock it and then look at out the time. Other than that, I use my smartwatch to see not only the time but also the date and alarms set on my watch. The sky is the limit people!

NFC on Smartwatches

NFC on Smartwatches

Swipe or insert the bank card? WAIT enter your pin now! WAIT is the payment approved yet! WAIT.

Who has the time to wait nowadays and the world is moving at such a rapid pace, that you shouldn’t need to remain at the kiosk or at a point-of-sale (POS) to make the payment and carry your goods with you? Stop living in the past and embrace the future with the NFC technology of wireless payments embedded directly into your wrist smartwatch.

The inception of contactless payment was first introduced in debit-cards. And then gradually the concept got perfected by the giants such as “APPLE” with their Apple Pay, and later “ANDROID” with their Android Pay. This privilege gave the consumer the option to pay using their smartphones with the app installed on their respective handsets. Thus, eliminating the need to draw out a card every time they want to make a payment for something they buy.

This concept has been taken to the next level by embedding smartwatches with Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology, which allows you to pay for goods without the need to carry a debit or credit card with you. You can now quickly pay by bringing your smartwatch near the contactless payment system and voila, the transaction goes through. This is a great little feature that if you are out and about on a walk, you necessarily do not have to carry your bank cards with you to buy that water bottle that you always buy from the tuck-shop.

Mobile Calls via LTE

An LTE-enabled smartwatch goes beyond the traditional smartwatches. This feature is not an extension of the smartphones and can work independently to one.

With the incorporation of LTE into smartwatches, these watches are now capable of making and receiving calls, sending SMS, go online on your favourite social media platforms, download music, upload data directly into the cloud feature provided by the manufacturer. These watches can work without you need to carry your smartphone with you if you are the gym or just gone out to pick up grocery from your local stores.

However, the list of LTE enabled smartwatches are small, and the technology is still under its purification stages. But soon, more and more smartwatches would start showing up onto the consumer shelves once the acceptance of LTE into the smartwatches is accepted and is made affordable to the masses. Similarly, the amount of bandwidth that is required by these smartwatches if connected via Wi-Fi is so very low that it is hardly going to make an impact on how your internet operates as a whole. You should read my article on how much bandwidth does a smart home actually use in the article on my blog SmartNutter.com

Navigation

Most of the smartwatches available in the market have the feature to give you directions and routes to the place you would want to go. Some smartwatches such as the Apple iWatch has taken this concept to the next level. It gives you a complete navigation map right onto your smartwatch that gives you the display of a comprehensive map that is further enhanced by giving you directional indicators with signals that are accompanied by vibration. This comes in handy especially when you are visiting a new city or place, and you aim to reach the location but also not miss out on any vital sight-seeing along the way. A must-have feature I must say!

Measuring Your Blood Pressure

If you are suffering from hypertension, then you are better off investing in a smartwatch that has blood pressure monitoring feature built-in into the device. This comes in handy especially if you are made to keep a tab on your blood pressure throughout the day. This feature syncs seamlessly with your smartphone and thus sending automated alerts to your GP informing them of any abnormalities. More and more GP’s are now incorporating such platforms where the blood pressure readings are directly being synced with their systems so to ensure that the mediation advised is performing as well as it should.

Do bear in mind that the accuracy of the readings is still a massive debate in the medical community. But in my own experience, you can’t just carry a blood pressure apparatus along with you everywhere you go. Hence this feature comes in handy. There is a noticeable variation of 5 to 10 points. But that is as accurate as you can get from a device that is called the “smartwatch” but is also informing you and keeping track of your blood pressure throughout the day.

Are Smartwatches Durable?

In all honesty, a smartwatch can be as durable as a smartphone that you already own. Hence the reason you are reading this article may be on your smartphone. You may ask yourself, is your smartphone durable? I am sure you would be able to conclude what makes a smartphone durable and the same applies to a smartwatch!

However, if your requirement and surrounding require you to be on your toes at all times and you are scared that your delicate smartwatch would not be able to withstand the beating of the harsh environment, then you are wise off investing in a smartwatch that has chassis built around military-grade durable materials. The benefits of Military-Grade durable material smartwatches are

  1. These are certified by US military standards such as the 810G
  2. Designed to withstand extreme conditions and environments
  3. Swim-ready, up to 50 meters underwater

So all in all, the durability on any smartwatch is dependent highly on the way you utilise the gadget. If you are not careful with these delicate pieces of equipment, then let me assure you that they won’t last long. There is noticeable wear and tear when it comes down to these gadgets, but that shouldn’t hinder their performance. The only way you can spoil your smartwatch is by letting it take the beating without taking care of it. No matter what device you spend your hard-earned money on, no matter how durable; it is bound to go wrong if you are not careful with handling it.

How Long Do Smartwatches Last?

How Long Do Smartwatches Last

A standard warranty period on any of the high-end smartwatches is one year. That too is a limited warranty and would not protect the buyer from damage. They would only cover any manufacturing defects or any other mechanical failures.

If your ordeal is how long would a smartwatch last, then in my personal experience they should last for a good 3 to 4 years period, given you take good care of them and give them proper TLC (Tender, Love & Caring), as with any other gadget that you may own. The longevity and the life of these products much depend on how you use them.

If you are keen to know more about how you can automate your home and also remain cost-efficient then I strongly recommend you to read my article where I have covered extensively 35 ultimate tips that are cost-effective and should be considered when converting your dumb home into a smart home.

Zohaib S.

A technology enthusiast who has converted his home into a "JETSONS" edition.

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