Saturday 27 December 2014

Gear Fit is the smart one to watch in wearable technology

Published 09/03/2014 | 02:30

Samsung Gear Fit
Samsung Gear 2
Creoir Ibis (Click image to view in a gallery)
Sony Smartwatch 2

ARE smartwatches really the new big thing? At the recent Mobile World Congress telecoms show, a succession of wrist computers were paraded as the hot technology of 2014.

But are they really your next gadget? Or an overhyped irrelevance? Here are four of the latest contenders for title of smartwatch king.

Samsung Gear 2 €300

Right now, this is the most powerful smartwatch you can buy.

In addition to getting notifications and using it to make and take calls (it has a speaker and a microphone), it also now lets you listen to music wirelessly via an onboard music player (though you have to transfer the MP3 files on to it first).

There's a whole host of fitness apps onboard, although the 1.6-inch screen is (sensibly) not intended as a standalone browser. The device's Achilles Heel is that the social media and messaging notifications work only with Samsung phones.

Prediction: Despite being the most complete smartphone, this is still mainly a techies' device.

Sony Smartwatch 2 €180

Sony's updated smartwatch is a big improvement on its first model and is the closest competition to Samsung's Gear 2 as an all-singing, all-dancing smartwatch.

However, it doesn't have a microphone or speaker, so calls are out. On the other hand, it can be connected to any Android Bluetooth phone, which gives it a substantially wider appeal than Samsung models. Up to 300 apps can be used with the smartwatch and it is relatively nicely (and unclunkily) designed.

Prediction: A decent smartwatch option, but perhaps not elegant enough to appeal to non-techies.

Creoir Ibis €400 (likely)

Think smartwatches look too nerdy? Creoir's Ibis is supposed to be a fashionable alternative. It's certainly striking. There are two watchfaces – one analogue and one OLED. The idea is that you can retain a classic watch look while still connecting (to either iPhone or Android) to get your notifications or music.

Drawing a small crowd at Mobile World Congress, the Finnish manufacturer's gadget is nice and light. The only question is its core appeal: do you want a smartwatch or an analogue one? This tries to have it both ways.

Prediction: The ambitiously ornate device is clever, but may be caught in no-man's land.

Samsung Gear Fit €200

If Samsung thought its Gear 2 smartwatch was its anchor wearable product, it will be proven very wrong. The 'junior' product will outsell the main one at least two to one. The Gear Fit is a fashion-conscious, stripped-down smartwatch with a 1.8-inch curved rectangular touchscreen.

No calls or music players here: just a host of fitness apps, message notifications and other 'basic' functions. But the Gear Fit has one trump card over almost all rivals – it looks good. Much better, in fact, than square, flat alternatives. This is the one to look for.

Prediction: Will become the best-selling mainstream smartwatch out there.

Sunday Indo Business

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