What's out there?
The COOKOO smartwatches
(Credit: COOKOO) The Cookoo watch is one of the more basic smartwatches. It has a digital face of an analog watch and looks a lot like a real watch. But compared with some of the other smartwatches on the market it's pretty limited in functionality. Telling time is the most important feature. And it syncs with your iOS devices (iPhone or iPad) to provide updates. You can also check into some social-networking sites like Facebook. The device will soon work with Google Android devices. It costs $130. It supposedly has a long-lasting disposable battery that's good for a year. And it's waterproof for up to 50 meters.
(Credit: CNET) From a design perspective, the I'm Watch smartwatch is among the coolest, with a touch screen that allows users to drag, swipe, or pinch their way through the interface. It syncs with Apple iPhones and Google Android smartphones. The device acts as an extension of your smartphone, allowing you to answer calls by hitting a button on your watch. You can also receive text messages, emails, and notifications. In addition, it allows you to view your calendar, pictures, weather apps, as well as listen to music from your wrist. It has a 1.55-inch, 240x240 color display, and comes with 4GB of built-in storage. The tiny gadget uses a 450MHz Atom 9 processor and comes with 128MB of RAM. All this technology and swanky design come at a price. The I'm Watch starts at $349. The device was first shown off at CES last year.
(Credit: CNET/Brian Bennett) If you've always dreamed of having a Dick Tracy watch so you could talk directly into your wrist, then look no further than the Martian smartwatch. The company claims on its Web site that it has "taken the 'SmartWatch' to the next level by adding hands-free voice communication. Use your Martian Watch to talk, listen, initiate voice commands, and be notified of incoming calls and texts, all without your phone leaving your pocket, purse or backpack!"
This is the only smartwatch that I have seen that actually allows you to make phone calls. It uses Bluetooth to connect to either an iPhone or Android phone. If you have an iPhone 5 or iPhone 4S, it also allows you to initiate Siri voice commands and listen to Siri replies through the watch. You can access the integrated voice controls in iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS.
The watch sports a traditional analog face, and it has a tiny screen at the bottom of the device where you can see who is calling your phone. It also gives you a 40-character preview of text messages sent to your smartphone. Like some other devices in this category, the Martian doesn't come cheap. There are currently three styles of the watch available ranging in prices from $249 to $299. The Martian Watch was a finalist for CNET's Best of Show at this year's CES.
Basis Technology watch
(Credit: Basis Technology) Basis Science is one of several companies offering devices that are geared to helping you stay fit via a wearable smartwatch. Similar to FitBit and Nike+ Fuel Band, the Basis Science device tracks your workouts and activity and measures a wide range of biometric data in real time. Sensors measure things like heart rate, skin temperature, and your sleep patterns. And the device is also able to measure how active you've been as well as how much you sweat during a workout.
The idea is that people can use this information to improve their lives by changing behaviors and living a healthier lifestyle. Currently, the device does not sync directly to an Android or iOS app. But the company's executives say that's in the works. Currently, the data can be viewed and manipulated via a Web interface. The Basis fitness gadget sells for $199.
As mentioned earlier, there are tons of wearable fitness devices that are not "smartwatches" per se. Their primary use isn't to be a watch, but because these devices are typically worn on the wrist and keep time as well as keep track of your activity and fitness levels, they can be used as watches.
The Basis Band was also a finalist for CNET's Best of CES in the category of wearable technology.
The Pebble watch connects with the iPhone and Android to deliver email, text messages, and calendar alerts, among other things.
(Credit: Pebble Technology) If you're looking for an all-around smartwatch that can do almost everything, from running fitness apps to connecting to Facebook, then I'd go with the Pebble smartwatch. This Kickstarter-funded startup has raised more than $10 million, and it officially kicked off its new product at CES.
The company says on its Web site that "apps bring Pebble to life." The device is "infinitely customizable." This means you can download everything different watch faces to Internet-connected apps that will allow you to use your smartwatch as a fitness tracker, accessing GPS on your smartphone to display speed, distance, and pace data. You can also use the music control app to play, pause, or skip tracks on your phone.
This new smartwatch has a 1.26-inch screen that uses e-paper technology so that it can be viewed even in bright sunlight. The device is water resistant, and it's battery should last a week on one charge.
Like other devices in its category, it uses Bluetooth to communicate with your iPhone or Android smartphone. And it allows you to check text messages, email, and all kinds of social-networking apps such as Facebook and Twitter.
The Pebble watch will begin shipping to Kickstarter backers on January 23. After that, it will be available to the public. And it will only cost $150. It comes in several colors, including red, white, black, orange, and gray. And it also uses a standard watch strap, so that you can swap the style and color that you like best.