Back when I first saw the Motorola 360 I was pretty geared up to grab myself one as it was the first to have a design that actually appealed to me. However the reviews for it were less than stellar, many of them citing poor battery life and lacklustre performance thanks to its incredibly outdated processor. This was enough to sour me on the idea as whilst the design was still nice I didn’t want to burden myself with another device that I’d have to charge daily. With the Apple Watch failing to tickle my fancy I resigned myself to waiting for the next round of devices to see if anything came through. As it so happens there is one potential smartwatch I now have my eyes on but I’m hesitant to get excited lest I get let down again.
The Huawei Watch bears a similar aesthetic to the Motorola 360 with a round face and a single button. The included Milanese strap is a nice addition especially considering that Apple would charge you an extra $600 for the privilege. However should that style not suit you then you’re free to change it to any standard 18mm or 21mm band that takes your fancy. It’s available in the standard array of colours (silver, black and gold) all of which share the same construction although the gold appears to come with a leather band rather than the Milanese style one.
Specifications wise it’s a definite step up from most of the competition sporting a quad core Qualcomm chip and a 400 x 400 AMOLED screen that covers the entire dial (unlike the 360 which has a black bar at the bottom) covered in sapphire crystal. These differences might not sound like much but the newer processor should be able to run a lot better in low power modes and the AMOLED screen handles being dimmed a lot better than the 360’s IPS panel does. So whilst the Huawei Watch might have a slightly smaller battery it should, hopefully, be able to last significantly longer which was the main complaint against the 360.
However I still have concerns on just how useful such a device will be for me as whilst the array of sensors included in the device are impressive they’re still somewhat short of my idealized smartwatch. Sure the list of features I laid out a while back might be a little extreme (indeed I think including MYO technology now isn’t required, given that Google Glass isn’t as great as I first thought it’d be) but I’d want something like this to be functional and useful. Perhaps I’m being too harsh of a critic of the idea before I’ve tried it as there’s every chance that I’ll find a myriad of uses for it once I have it but I’ve used enough random bits of tech in the past to know that not all of them work out how everyone says they should.
Regardless it’s good to see more companies coming out with smartwatch designs that don’t look like cheap plastic pieces of junk. Whilst I’ll always question the value proposition of Rolex level smatchwatches I can definitely see the value in having a piece of technology on your wrist. Whether the current generation of devices will be enough to satisfy me is something I’ll have to find out and the Huawei Watch might be the first one to make me shell out the requisite cash.
I honestly couldn’t tell you how long I’ve been hearing people talk about Apple getting into the smartwatch business. It seemed every time that WWDC or any other Apple event rolled around there’d be another flurry of speculation as to what their wearable would be. Like most rumours details on it were scant and so the Internet, as always, circlejerked itself into a frenzy about a product that might not have even been in development. In the absence of a real product competitors stepped up to the plate and, to their credit, the devices have started to look more compelling. Well today Apple finally announced their Watch and it’s decidedly mediocre.
For starters it makes the same mistake that many smartwatches do: it follows the current design trend for nearly all other smartwatches. Partly this is due to the nature of LCD screens being rectangular, limiting what you can do with them, however for a company like Apple you’d expect them to buck the trend a bit. Instead you’ve got what looks like an Apple-ized version of the Pebble Steel, not entirely unpleasing but at the same time feeling incredibly bland. I guess if you’re a fan of having a shrunken iPhone on your wrist then the style will appeal to you but honestly smartwatches which look like smartwatches are a definite turn off for me and I know I’m not alone in thinking this.
Details as to what’s actually under the hood of this thing are scarce, probably because unlike most devices Apple announces you won’t be able to get your hands on this one right away. Instead you’ll be waiting until after March next year to get your hands on one and the starting price is somewhere on the order of $350. That’s towards the premium end of the smartwatch spectrum, something which shouldn’t be entirely unexpected, and could be indicative of the overall quality of the device. Indeed what little details they’ve let slip do seem to indicate it’s got some decent materials science behind it (both in the sapphire screen and the case metals) which should hopefully make it a more durable device.
Feature wise it’s pretty much as you’d expect, sporting the usual array of notifications pushed from your phone alongside a typical array of sensors. Apple did finally make its way into the world of NFC today, both with the Apple Watch and the new iPhone, so you’ll be able to load up your credit card details into it and use the watch to make payments. Honestly that’s pretty cool, and definitely something I’d like to see other smartwatch manufacturers emulate, although I’m not entirely hopeful that it’ll work anywhere bar the USA. Apple also toutes an interface that’s been designed around the smaller screen but without an actual sample to look over I really couldn’t tell you how good or bad it would be.
So all that blather and bluster that preceded this announcement was, surprise, completely overblown and the resulting product really does nothing to stand out in the sea of computerized hand adornments. I’m sure there’s going to be a built in market from current Apple fans but outside that I really can’t see the appeal of the Apple Watch over the numerous other devices. Apple does have a good 6 months or so to tweak the product before release so there’s potential for it to become something before they drop it on the public.
I like gadgets, to the point where it I can get a little weird about things if they have just the right technological bent. My geek lust has seen my wallet open itself for all sorts of purchases I wouldn’t have typically made for myself just because the gadget geek in me fell in love with a piece of engineering or ingenious technology. It’s curbed somewhat by my desire for all things to have an useful function but that still means my house is littered with various objects which have caught my fancy at one point or another. With that in mind you’d think that I’d be something of a prime candidate for a smartwatch but I just can’t see the point of having one.
I’ll admit that I was somewhat impressed by the Pebble when I first saw it, mostly due to the fact that it used an e-Ink screen rather than a small LCD (which are notorious for being crap). I came in late to the Kickstarter however and missed out on my chance to get one but I figured it wouldn’t be too long before I could snag one at retail. Of course long delays ensued and many competitors have since released similar products but strangely enough I found myself looking at all of them and then wondering what the use case for them would be. Sure some of them looked cool (I’m something of a sucker for watches) but I couldn’t see the advantage of getting one over a traditional watch, especially if looks were the deciding factor.
The majority of the functionality seems to be focused towards at-a-glance style information coming from your smartphone like alerting you to messages or other application alerts. Whilst I can see some use for this most of the time those messages would require some action on my behalf something which these watches aren’t designed to accommodate. Using it as an external mic/speaker for my phone is something I don’t see myself using either as the quality is always going to be below that of what my phone itself can provide. Couple all this with the fact that it’s yet another device I’ll have to charge and I can’t really see the point of getting one, at least not in their current incarnations.
I could be convinced on the idea if the smartwatches included some functionality like the FitBit One and Jabone UP in them, possibly alongside an implementation of MYO. Whilst I’d love to do more metric tracking so that I could better hone my fitness program the idea of having another wearable, chargeable device always poses a significant barrier. However if a combination of all this tech could find its way into a single device then I could see myself warming to the idea as then it would be providing a whole host of functionality that my phone does not. At the same time I probably wouldn’t even need the traditional smartwatch capabilities if a fitness tracker, MYO and watch were all combined into one but if you’d already integrated that much tech it’d be inevitable to just go that one further step.
Of course I know hear the caterwauling of people thinking “Scratch your own itch! Build it yourself!” but honestly I’m not that wedded to the idea at all, just more musing over what it would take for me to come over to the smartwatch camp. I’m happy for someone to try and sell me on the idea though as I’m never adverse to spending money for good tech, so long as it serves a purpose.
Today we have information thrown at us from so many angles. Whether it be online, through the newspaper or just on the television we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to finding a medium through which to consume information. My traditional choice is the Internet, using things such as RSS feeds and Twitter to gain access to the latest news. However when I don’t want to actively seek out information I turn to the good old fashioned visual media of television and over the years I’ve come across many programs that I believe everyone should watch for their captivating and inspiring messages.
So here is a list of what I consider to be essential viewing from an educational perspective:
There are of course many other shows with science based content that I could reccomend but the above are shows that are solely dedicated to furthering the cause of science. I know my future children will hate me for forcing them to watch all of these for their own good but shows like these are timeless. Carl Sagan’s cosmos is itself nearly 30 years old.
(P.S. Apologies for the short posts. I had dedicated more time to these last few however I ran short when it took longer to pack for the honeymoon than I thought ;)).