I’m going to assume that modern smartphone wearables all started with the false promises of being able to talk to your phone and look cool doing it, and everybody at one point daydreamed about being like 007 and controlling everything with just a flick of the wrist and the push of a button. That didn’t happen as expected despite an admittedly nostalgic Samsung commercial that chronicled the fictional history of the fabled technology.
Luckily, the market for smartwatches have come a long way and did have a grounded feel for this CES. Companies came back from the drawing board with more conventional designs and an underlying admission that these accessories weren’t going to instantly change the world, but didn’t necessarily have to in order to be functional or attainable right now.
Because I initially blamed Samsung for bringing this trend to the forefront it was only fair to go hands-on with their latest Tizen-based Gear S2. Updated for 2016, this wearable now sports Near-Field Communications (NFC), and will make immediate use of wireless quick payments via Samsung Pay. This is important because mobile payments and digital wallet service have been gaining incredible traction for e-commerce growth and systems such as Samsung Pay means open season in relation to other competitors such as Apple Pay and Android Pay (Google Wallet). There’s also the element of band customization for the Gear S2, and added compatibility for other non-Samsung Galaxy Android devices and iOS.
We also can’t forget the new color option of rose gold if black or white are too plain for you, to keep prices realistic all options are plated.
Fossil continues into the wearables game with their announced Q54 Pilot, which serves as the company’s third smartwatch and (believe or not) fifth wearable device.
From what I’ve seen this latest offering appears to be more fashionable since the face is analog and there’s no touchscreen to speak of. As a compromise, notifications are handled by vibration and colored LEDs so you at least know who or what the notification is from. It’s a gentleman’s watch that does come with pairing for both Android and iOS, and a potentially refreshed Fossil Q app that should address issues such as activity tracking, customized vibration, and proper integration with other apps that include the likes of Tinder and Misfit for priority filtering.
I’m pretty sure somebody has already masterminded a clever joke about smartwatches, fitness, and random hook-up sex somewhere on the internet. If it hasn’t happened yet, just give it time; just Google it.
But the most rugged watch on the show floor was introduction of the WSD-F10 Smart Outdoor Watch, which is the first Android wearable made by Casio. Designed for the outdoors and people who actively go trail biking or rough it on the weekends, the frame is bulky and the wrist is thick, but weighs a light at 93 grams (3.28 ounces) in total. All of that and still achieves the standard U.S. military MIL-STD-810 certification, so it should be able to endure the natural elements and withstand shock, vibration, extreme temperate, and even small doses of direct radiation.
Those attributes alone put it over the top in relation to other Android smartwatches for accelerometer, pressure sensor, and compass settings. A ‘tool’ button can determine air pressure, altitude, and bring up graphs for sun placement and tides all in real-time; this is separate from the downloadable Casio Moment Setter+ app which monitors exercise activities and provide relevant data. Still not enough? The WSD-F10 comes with two screens, a color LCD for all those aforementioned features and secondary monochrome display that turns off those things for a simple timepiece that lasts up to a month (30 days) off one charge, the smartwatch will work for roughly 24 hours.
All of these wearables look great, and offer optional straps, but none come cheap. Samsung’s Gear S2 might be the best “value” of the bunch at $300, but that awesomely macho Casio WSD-F10 is a staggering $500. Meanwhile the Fossil Q54 Pilot is the most attainable at $175 if you don’t opt for the stainless steel wristband – which adds another Benjamin to the price. No matter which brand you pick, it’s gonna cost you to strap that tech to your wrist.