Vector – It’s about time.

Smart watches are becoming the “must” item to wear and the technology is sweeping forward despite the severe battery limitations, which have sadly not yet been resolved.

Vector Luna - the discrete Smart watch

Vector Luna – the discreet Smart watch

However a different approach has been championed by the Vector smart watch brand as in the case of the Luna model shown here.  Sticking with limited functions and a monochrome display, no touch screen and conventional “watch” pushers, this model manages 30 days easily.

It also displays the Time permanently, so is a proper watch, a discreet Smart watch if you will and that’s a concept that appeals to me.  I also love the fact it looks like a watch, behaves like a watch and doesn’t need charged every few days.  The fact that within the top (the CEO no less) management of the company is ex Timex, explains much of the “this is a watch” concept and means a watch at 42 mm diameter by 11 mm depth should fit most wrists.  A hardened mineral crystal and 50 metres Water Resistance also adds confidence on the model’s longevity.

Vector Luna - bracelet or strap versions

Vector Luna – bracelet or strap versions

Smart applications include Notifications from your Smart Phone, be it iPhone, Android or indeed Windows and such a choice is highly commendable in comparison to others.  A few different alternative watch faces, calendar reminders, basic activity tracking and basic alarms and so on are available and can be customized to a certain extend by the Vector App which resides on your phone.  In short it manages to provide you with features that you might actually use and not a silly mass of images and functionality that you  a) don’t really need and  b) drain your battery.

Vector App stream for Phone - easy to use and operate.

Vector App stream for Phone – easy to use and operate.

A refreshing change I’d say and shows us a Company with a clear vision of what they want from their product, unlike some, who throw in the kitchen sink regardless of practicality or battery usage concerns.

It’s also early days with Vector and I’m sure that subsequent versions will refine the functionality, features and display capability, hopefully without endangering the usability of the watch.

I like it.

Prices range from around £200 to £340, which seems to me to be pretty competitive – and there’s nothing to touch it out there for battery life – so Hey! it’s not a bad deal!

Note – As you will no doubt have figured out, I’ve not been a great advocate of the so called “Smart” watches and in particular at the stage these seems to be at.  I’ve always been of the opinion that we the buyer are financing development costs for products that are still at the “work in progress” stage.  However with the Vector some sense has prevailed and this is a watch which manages to give the wearer firstly a watch, then some sensible connectivity to most cell Phone systems with functions that we might actually use.

But as ever technology marches on and in the case of Smart technology the march has turned into a rush – so what next?  Tomorrow, next week . . . . . Time will tell.

Oh my – its Omate

Seems that “Smart” watches are definitely having a real push and so far this year quite a few have appeared already, some as adjuncts to Smart Phones or even as standalone phones in their own right.

The Omate "Racer - a new Smartwatch  from April 2015

The Omate “Racer – a new Smartwatch from April 2015

However this new Smart watch is the Omate Racer model.  It’s quite a large Casio-like model at 48 mm diameter and 14.5 mm case depth, though I am very pleased to see a standard strap fixing and they actually make a feature out of this fact.  Now that’s what I call “smart”, as it the Sapphire coated “touch” screen which I’ve always though a smart feature. (I love my Tissot Touch).

Omate Racer SmartWatch - Sapphire touch screen

Omate Racer SmartWatch – Sapphire touch screen

This particular watch is a Smart Phone wrist extension, but unlike Apple and some of the much more expensive efforts appearing, this model can connect equally with Android or iOS7. with push notifications of incoming calls, social media updates, reminders and so on.  It also shows the time in rather smart and various formats and screen outlays.

Omate Racer - looks almost conventional, but isn't!

Omate Racer – looks almost conventional, but isn’t!

Specifications are – (it’s easier to let Omate’s own table explain) –

Omate' specifications

Omate’ specifications

So despite my skepticism on all things SmartWatch, things are certainly movin’ on, as they say, and this latest model due in April 2015 looks like a pretty decent effort and it’s PRICE is a fraction of the Apple Smart watch and  I understand it has a battery life of perhaps 7 days, depending on functions.
At the moment though I’m leaning very much towards the Swatch Group’s, “Smart” approach of incorporating or merging chip sets into standard watches such as Omega for example and apparently also due out in the very near future.

But that said, technology has a way of smashing down barriers and who knows where it will all lead and it’s certainly exciting.   BUT the one issue that still in my opinion stumps the so called “smart” watch is Battery life.  Having to charge the thing every day or at best every few days is just not good enough.  Trying to attract a watch wearing world population already comfortable with wristwatches that run unaided for perhaps a life time (mechanical, Solar quartz & others), or 10 year batteries (quartz), is a hurdle that’s as large as it is difficult to beat.

Everything today is about less effort, less buttons, less switches, more speed, on your wrist and not your pocket as it’s closer so again less effort, your PC in your glasses, as it’s too much effort to go to your den and switch on your PC etc etc.

BUT – I’m afraid it’s all for nothing if you still have to charge the Smart item every day, find the charger, find a power supply – I’m sorry but all that effort is just not on!

Anyway here’s the Omate web site – you can read all about it – HERE.

Smart or not so smart?

Well, later this year we are going to be inundated with these peculiar little gadgets called Smart Watches, though to me it seems almost more like a surrealistic exercise in technology for technologies sake.   A test of just what else we can miniaturize and stick on the wrist.Collage
Now Smart Phones I understand. I mean these were initially small portable phones using a cell and tower transmitter system, that allowed you the freedom NOT to be tied to the office land line.  This then expanded to take link capabilities with Bluetooth then via WiFi to allow integration with other devices and communication with the Internet – and OK all useful in a progressive sort of way.

But now to insist that what we need is another smaller device – a Smart Watch – to attach to your wrist, that will allow you to communicate to your Cell/Smart Phone that’s in your pocket? just a short reach away and probably reached with the same the wrist is attached to – frankly seems bizzarre.

That this “Smart Watch” tries so hard to partly duplicate the features of the Smart Phone and generally failing miserably in that regard, as the main functionality is fully contained IN the Smart Phone already, which begs the question – Why try?

Now if the Smart Phone was tethered to your house – OK, this is fine – but Hey! we’ve done that already – it’s called the Smart nee Cell Phone!

Hellooo!  your phone is in your pocket!

I have to suspect we’re all getting carried away and just a tad silly, possibly unreal – and let’s be honest that’s what we’ve got to get back to – reality.   We don’t need it!   Or more accurately I don’t need it – and I’m a registered, paid up gadget freak!

Now if it this so called Smart Watch took the place of the Smart Phone, completely, then Ooo..K, it’s just possible though debatable it might be handier than the phone in your pocket – and there are some around now that apparently can do just that.

Google Glass

Google Glass

Though another option might be the spectacles or glasses idea (Google) on your face (IF you want to wear the thing), though again it would have to supersede the SmartPhone completely – now that too might be a viable option in future years (maybe next year by the speed things are moving!).

I just have the feeling that whatever we do over the immediate few months and year is disappointingly going to be a series of stop gaps – and being a cynical sort of guy these days, maybe more a transient retail incentive, to cough up for the development costs of all this new technology, most of which will be out of date before you can say –

“Virtual Communication Implant with virtual HUD capabilities” or VCI(HUD) – because that’s what’s coming next – Oh Yes!

OK maybe not this year, but perhaps in 3 to 5  . . . .  No watch or cell phone required, but rather a virtual projection system in front of your eyes, surgically implanted just above the ear . . .

Wow! – and I’m thinking here it might make my golf easier too with all the course and hole data right there!   With HUD Head Up Display info in 3D projection!

Talk about having your head in the clouds!

I think I’ll give it a miss for now and anyway I’ve got to make a call – now where IS that phone?

Smart time

Thought I’d try and find a Smart watch that at least looked like an actual watch.  Not one of those devices trying to be a full blown tablet on the wrist, because I consider them in their infancy and experimental enough that I’ve no wish to spend my cash just to bolster their development costs.  So for me, less is more so to speak and I am encouraged to find two models along the lines of what smart watch should mean, with the emphasis on “watch”.  These are basically devices that will “pair” to your iPhone or Android device without overreaching their capabilities.  Get these right and we’re on the right track.

First up is the Cogito Original – a smart watch that actually looks like a watch!

Cognito Original Smart Watch.

Cogito Original Smart Watch.

And as they say on their web site –

“COGITO ORIGINAL brings together the power of a connected watch with the sophistication of a precision-crafted timepiece”  and  “When linked with the smartphone or tablet app, COGITO allows users to cut through the digital noise by customizing settings based on their priorities and selecting which notifications will appear.   On the watch face, users can see who is calling or messaging, and decide whether to answer or mute it and  “COGITO frees users from continually checking their phones “.

Perhaps like me you’ve been looking at those odd “smart” wrist gadgets appearing here and there, such as Samsung and Sony, Pebble and a good few others and maybe like me you’ve not been that impressed.  My dislike of these things is initially that they simply look like an oversize slab of square or rectangular glass strapped on top of the wrist, but which have no consideration of wrist shape or size.
Some manage phone applications, others simply link to your phone, assuming you can get a signal of course.  Though why you need to link from your wrist to your pocket (where your phone is stashed) I find perhaps debatable as a must have.

I just don’t see the point when you can simply take out your phone or whatever and use it directly (mind you I only use an old cell phone for emergencies – so maybe I’m in the stone age here).  And personally being a pessimist, maybe I feel it’s technology for technologies sake, rather than practicality, BUT who am I to stand in the way of progress!

Now apart from the size and shape issue, there is the rubbish battery life to consider.  Their problem of course is that we’re all so used to watches, that is wristwatches that don’t require a battery charge ever, mechanical or solar quartz.  Even standard quartz models have a battery life of 2 to 10 years these days and yet this so called Smart technology can only manage 1 day or at best 1 week? before having to charge the battery!   I’d have to say that “smart” is not the word I’d use.
This means you to have a charger of some kind with you if on a trip for example and find a power supply too . . . .?   And if for some reason you’re unable to manage that, maybe lose it for example (easy to do if traveling) then you are literally stuck.  No smart anything and let’s hope no one asks you for the time!

Cognito Original - a proper "smart"watch at last?

Cogito Original – a proper “smart”watch at last?

COGITO ORIGINAL appears to incorporate the power of a “connected” watch and a decent timepiece.  It links to your the smartphone or tablet app and allows you to customize settings based on your priorities and then decide which notifications will appear on the watch face, see who’s calling or texting and decide your response.
It also features a tap-to-act function, which means a faster response plus it uses Bluetooth 4.0 low energy technology, which means no battery charging as the cell will last well over a year without a charge and when necessary can be replaced easily by the user.

It comes with a SR626SW standard button-cell battery plus a CR2032 Battery and a Quick Start Guide + with alternative colour and material choices available, this 100m Water Resistance smart watch, can be as individual as you like and used in most situations, even in the pool.

Well that’s what Cogito says and it certainly sounds very promising and it appears to me, to be much more in keeping with my idea of a useful “smart watch” at this stage in our technology.   It looks like a watch, it tells the time like a watch, it talks to your phone and it’s got a watch battery life . . . .  it sounds good to me!

So far I like what I see and I note it’s going to be available around the end of this month at $179.99 on pre-order – so if you’re into this smart technology stuff – could be well worth a look!

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My second find is the Cookoo Life smart watch, that again is in keeping with a proper wristwatch, rather than an odd box stuck on your wrist, trying to be something more than it is

The Cookoo Life - a smart watch that thinks it's a watch

The Cookoo Life – a smart watch that thinks it’s a watch

The COOKOO Life comes in a whole pile of colors and the core functionality of linking via Bluetooth 4 to your iPhone or Android seems to be excellent.  And it also tells you the time all the time, as it has permanent analogue hour, minute and seconds hands.
Once linked or “paired” to your device it keeps you in control of any alerts and notifications you receive on your phone, either by Icon, Beep or even Vibration.

Cookoo color options are many

Cookoo color options are many

Phone features are notified to you, such as Incoming Calls, Missed Calls, Facebook messages, Calendar reminders, Email and SMS, Low Battery on your iPad warning and Out of range alarm.  You can even take photographs with your device/phone remotely and play music.  I particularly like the “find your phone” feature, just press a button to sound an alert for locating it.

Again this watch has a decent Water Resistance, a CR2032 button-cell battery and a easy change battery hatch on the rear so you can replace it if required sometime after a year.  I also like the fact that both these models can update functionality by using different Apps which are often free downloads to your phone device.

Looks like a wrist watch and acts like a wristwatch, that's smart as well.

The Cookoo Life – looks like a wrist watch, acts like a wristwatch, but smart as well.

OK and let’s be honest here, this is a completely different world for me, being the sort of guy who loves vintage timepieces and traditional watches, but I have to admit to being quite impressed by both these smart watches first and foremost as they both look and act like a proper watch.  Plus the added “new age” functions that for modern people are probably more relevant and useful than the old traditional features and watch complications.  Though Timers and stopwatches can still be managed, these are normal rather than added function sets here.  Perhaps Altimeters and Compasses are better left to individual devices at the moment.

But it looks like Time’s not stopping for anyone and although it might be going that little bit fast for me – I’m hanging on best I can . . . . . . . if I’m “smart” and have the time.  😉