Words On Wednesday

2016-03-09 The Smartwatch Conundrum

Smartwatches look so cool, but they seem so much more expensive than what they’re worth.

The wearable technology market has really begun to hit its stride in the past few months. A category that used to be limited to basically just the Pebble smartwatch and Google Glass has blossomed out into a relatively wide variety of options and brands. Most of the biggest smartphone manufacturers have a smartwatch under their belts, and different categories of wearable are springing up frequently.

From the time smartwatches were entertained as a possibility, I haven’t been particularly interested in them. Sure, a simple response to a quick text might be easier from your wrist than having to pull out your phone, but I can’t think of anything I would prefer to do on a watch than on a phone. Smartwatches don’t do a whole lot, and most of what they CAN do is easier, more intuitive, or better on a phone or tablet. They don’t do a good job of necessitating their existence.

Another gripe I have with smartwatches is the fact that most of them run pretty steep in price for something that will inevitably be outdated in a year or less. We’ve accepted this fact for the most part with phones, but that’s just the nature of the beast. With a watch, I don’t feel that it’s absolutely necessary. If the market hits a point that smartwatches can last a solid 3+ years on nothing more than software updates, I might be more keen to drop $200 or more on one. For now, it seems like hardware is going to be outdated within a few months, and you’re going to be left with something that is far inferior to all the new options.

The other issue with cost is that dollar for dollar, you can get a much better traditional analog watch than smartwatch. Now, I’m not saying you can get a Rolex (with the possible exception of that stupidly overpriced Apple Watch Edition), but you could realistically get a very nice Stuhrling for far cheaper than even “budget” smartwatches. Analog watches don’t do anywhere near as much as smartwatches, no, but they do have several benefits over smartwatches. A nice analog watch will almost always appear infinitely more classy than a smartwatch. Analog watches aren’t going to be out of date in… well, ever. And last I heard, analog watches don’t have to undergo any sort of updates that put them temporarily out of commission. Plus, analog watch batteries last far longer than smartwatch batteries.

With the bad stuff out of the way, I’ll openly admit that smartwatches do have their perks. Having notifications on my wrist and being able to determine their urgency without having to take my phone out of my pocket would be awesome, especially in colder weather when my phone might be underneath layers of clothes. Instead of getting just the time that I have to manually set, I get time and date updates that are set automatically from my phone and adjust to different time zones should I be traveling.

On top of all this, I think the biggest draw right now is the ridiculously slick advertising of smartwatches. I normally consider myself mostly immune to advertising, or at least resistant to it. Smartwatch ads, though… they make me feel like I need one. They’re all so shiny and new, and I’m a sucker for shiny, new toys.

I think the threshold for me to purchase a smartwatch is when their useable life span hits 3 years or more, and their price drops to $150 or less. Obviously, this might be altered with improvements with their functionality, but I can’t imagine how much more a smartwatch could do and still be a watch. Give me something that I’m going to hang onto for a while, something that’s worth the cost. Until then, I can’t justify paying so much for something that will be trash in a few years. As cool as smartwatches are, they just aren’t worth it.

Meta:

Words: 672 | Characters: 3779 | Sentences: 33

Paragraphs: 8 | Reading Level: 11-12th Grade

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