Six months ago, I didn’t think much of the smartwatch.
Every time someone asked me how I thought ‘wearables’ would do in the greater technology marketplace I would scoff. Of course they won’t succeed! Who wants to be plugged in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? My phone is beeping all the time, my wrist is constantly vibrating … not interested, thanks.
But then, a funny change of events led me to actually buy one, and I’ll never be able to live without this beautiful little wrist-dweller again.
It started innocently enough, I began an intense exercise program in September. It’s a series of DVDs with a trainer, and on the cardio days he was always pushing us to monitor our heart rate. Get a heart rate monitor! Stay in your zone!
Finally, I caved about a month into the program and decided I needed some sort of fitness tracker. Despite its popularity, a Fitbit Flex wasn’t for me, I needed something with a display so I could check my heart rate whenever I needed to. So I decided to pull the trigger, and I figured if I’m going to get a fitness tracker with a display I might as well go all out and get a smartwatch as long as the price was right.
Lots of research led me ultimately to the Samsung Gear Fit. I’m a Galaxy Note 3 owner, and I wanted something relatively inexpensive. The Gear Fit is usually $US150, but I got it refurbished for $US100.
I have to say, for a first-generation fitness tracker/smartwatch this thing is fantastic.
It has an incredibly bright, sleek, and simple user interface, and it’s easy on the eyes. It tracks running, cycling, walking, and hiking linking up to your phone’s GPS. It also sends all the information it gathers to Samsung’s S Health App on your phone.
The smartphone capabilities are extremely simple, but what do you really need this little gadget to do anyway? It links to my phone via bluetooth and gives me notifications when I get a new email, text, or something exciting happens on Facebook.
I now find myself much more interested in checking my watch to find out simply and easily who’s contacting me and if it’s worth actually stopping what I’m doing at the time and getting my phone out. I can also send canned text messages and use other simple features like a timer, pedometer, and stop watch.
It also measures sleep, but I gave up on that quickly. It was far too depressing to look at my wrist every morning and discover I spent so much time rolling around trying to lull myself into slumber that I wasn’t getting much sleep at all.
The battery is awesome, and this particular device is pretty sleek. It doesn’t have that bulky overkill that some people are worried about when it comes to smartwatches. (And I’d call myself a medium build guy. Bulk is definitely a reasonable concern for small builds like petite women.)
And while the display and UI is simple, it’s also responsive, and has a beautiful and bright curved screen.
Of course, this is the first iteration of this device and it is not without its drawbacks. If you want it to constantly monitor your heart rate throughout the course of a workout you have to be in one of the four modes I mentioned (running, hiking, walking, cycling). So if, like me, you mostly do cross training, you have to tell your phone to go into running mode and then disregard the data. This lets you always be able to look down at your wrist and see your heart rate, which is pretty accurate.
It also doesn’t have nearly the kinds of features you’ll see on the upcoming Apple Watch, or even on the Moto X, or Samsung’s smartwatch-yer and more expensive Galaxy Gear offerings. But I also get something much less bulky, more attractive, and simpler on my wrist.
In short, I’m sold. And knowing that this is just a first generation, I’m even more encouraged by my little purchase. If I can get this kind of excellent experience out of this almost primitive smartwatch, the future holds some pretty awesome stuff.
Wearables really are the future. I’m sold on my primitive little smartwatch, and I can’t imagine living without it.
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