Every year does have its own trend. Last year it was large phone displays. Before that, multi-core processors on handsets. And this year, it seems to be wearable technology in general and smartwatches — watches that do a bit more than just tell the time — in particular. Almost every notable tech brand in the market is working on some sort of smartwatch or the other. Interestingly, though, not too many are available in the market at the time of writing.
What cannot be denied, however, is that the coming year will see a flood of such gizmos — even Apple is believed to be working on one. However, if you are the impatient type and love to wear your tech on your wrist, you can still choose from three smart watches that are accessible in the Indian market:
Samsung Galaxy Gear: Powerful, but not for everyone
Remember all those films where characters could make calls and take photographs from their wristwatches? Well, the Samsung Galaxy Gear delivers just that. In terms of versatility, no smartwatch in the market comes even close to what it delivers — you can take pictures, make and receive calls, check mail and and do almost everything that you can on your handset on the device, short of typing out messages. What holds the Gear from being an out and out winner is the fact that it stumbles on the watch front. The camera on the strap is an eyesore in aesthetic ones. The strap cannot be changed (because it has a camera on it). Some of the sensors don’t work as smoothly as expected — we found it did not show the time every time we looked at it. At the time of writing, it worked only with a select number of devices.
But this is the only smartwatch in India that supports calling and photography. It used to be very expensive, but Samsung has cut its price even as we got to print, making it perhaps the gold standard for smart watches.
Price: Rs 15,290
Pros: Does almost everything a phone can. It comes with a camera and calling options
Cons: Works with a limited number of devices. Strap cannot be changed.
Perfect for: Those who want to make heads turn. And they WILL turn every time you take a call and a photograph.
Pebble: The frontrunner
The Pebble is for many people synonymous with a Smartwatch. Unlike many of its competitors, it does not come with a very stiff price tag, and is also not restricted to a particular OS — the Pebble works with both iOS and Android devices. While it does not boast of a spectacularly colourful display, the fact that it is based on e-ink (similar to what you see on the Kindle e-book readers) means that not only is it very visible in sunlight, but also that the battery life is excellent. It connects over Bluetooth, but we found we could get by with about a single charge a week. There are a number of apps being developed for it, and even talk of a Pebble app storeBest of all, this looks the most like a watch, even while delivering all the functions that you would expect from a smart device.
Price: R10,000 (approx)
Pros: Works with Android and iOS, Simple design, lots of apps
Cons: Getting it in India can be complex. Display not colourful.
Perfect for: The geek and the app lovers, who treasure simplicity and innovation
Sony SmartWatch 2: Getting better, but not perfect
Sony’s second attempt at a smartwatch is significantly better than its first one. Not only does the SmartWatch 2 look much better than its predecessor (which had to be clipped on to a strap), but it also comes with the ability to work with most Android devices. Setting up is still a bit of a pain as you have to download apps on your phone first, but in terms of appearance the SmartWatch 2 manages to look more than a watch than its predecessor, although it remains a chunky affair. What’s more, you can now switch its strap easily too (any 24 mm strap will work). It still works over Bluetooth, but battery life is much better — three to four days on a single charge is what we have seen. Sony is also working on a number of apps for the device and in terms of checking mail and social networks, we did find it working more smoothly than the competition, showing more information and letting us view long updates without too much trouble. We would have liked a brighter display and support for iOS but maybe that will come in the next iteration of the SmartWatch. Sony does seem to be learning from experience.
Price: Rs 14,990
Pros: Works across most Android devices. Has its own apps
Cons: Bulky. Not the brightest display
Perfect for: Those who value information and the convenience of not having to pull out their phones every time to get it