Should You Get A Smartwatch?

The short answer is, in my humble, tech-loving opinion, yes.

I was destined to buy a smartwatch from the age of four. Sitting down at my Dad’s PowerMac, playing Pengu and Toy Story, I quickly developed a taste for all things tech. On trips to Dublin, up from Galway, my parents would endeavor to keep me away from stores that sold “gadget” and “gizmos”; if it had a screen or did something cool, I wanted it. Even when said cheap gadget broke after a few days, I wasn’t deterred. I had a PDA before smart phones were even a thing; remember those?

 

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I bought my first one in Maplin, an electronics store, and sat for hours, tapping away at it, excitedly pulling out the little stylus, keeping notes, tracking time.

 

Fast forward to 2016:
and not much has changed. While I’m a little wiser with my money, I’m still a sucker for “smart” technology. So when smartwatches his the scene, I shopped around and bought a Pebble Time.
At the time, the main contenders in the market were Pebble and Apple. Smartwatches have been around well back into the 1990’s, but these two were some of the first to be considered devices that might become commonplace. I’ll be discussing Pebble’s second watch to be released, the Pebble Time.

Before I analyse the good and bad about smartwatches, let’s look at the features of the two smartwatches.

The idea of a modern smartwatch is that it links to your phone, though both the Pebble and and Apple Watch can perform certain tasks without being linked to a phone.

Price: 
Pebble Time: €169.95 | Apple Watch: €379.00

Heartbeat Sensor:
Pebble Time: No (The Next Pebble, Pebble Time 2, will have one) | Apple Watch: Yes

Battery Life:
Pebble Time: Up to 7 days. This is one of it’s key advantages over the Apple Watch, which goes for around 18 hours. I usually get 5 days out of my Pebble Time, a year later, with moderate daily use.

Screen:
Pebble Time: ePaper display | Apple Watch: Digital Display
Since I didn’t intend to use my Pebble for viewing images or videos (neither smartwatch is intended to replace your phone), I’m happy to have the ePaper display.
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Compatibility:
Pebble Time: iOS and Android, but works better on the latter | iPhone: iOS only.

Since I’m an Android user, I had to chose the Pebble Time over the Apple Watch, or else get an iPhone. But I would have gotten it even if I used an iPhone.

 

Worth it?
The €170 smartwatch was definitely worth it for me, here’s why:

Notifications: If I’m at a presentation, in a college lecture, or a similar situation, I can see if a notification is important – a clients website has gone down and needs attention ASAP – or not – an invite to a Facebook event. This is handy for notifications in general when I’m occupied with something and don’t want to have to take out my phone. I can prioritise notifications too, so that only important ones get through if I’m working.

Less time taking out my phone: This saves me a lot of time, and there’s a surprising number of times I’ve been able to do an action I otherwise couldn’t. An example is changing or pausing a song while I’m cycling, as opposed to having to stop and take my phone out. I can answer, end and put calls onto speaker or mute as well. Even if I’m just walking somewhere or doing a job on my laptop, in one click of a button I can pick up, no need to take my phone in and out. I can set timers while cooking, pause RunKeeper while running, and rewind songs while drumming. When friends are over or I’m throwing a party, I can control Spotify on my phone through my watch. Tasks become easier!

Customisability: I love being able to change the watch face. There’s thousands of different ones, from old retro faces to Nyan Cat faces. They can be adjusted to show the date, weather, battery life of your phone and watch, ect.

Sleep Tracker: This is my favourite feature of the Pebble Time. I’m not great at getting to bed on time, and the sleep tracker has improved my sleeping habits. I can see exactly how much sleep, and deep sleep I got on a given night, which is especially handy if I’ve to get up early, and hence go to bed early, but spend ages rolling around and don’t know how long I slept. It’s also very handy for college: When I wake up on the floor of a friends room, desperately hung-over, I can check what time I got to sleep at, and if I got 6-8 hours sleep I might head into college for lectures.

Apps: There’s thousands of apps for the Pebble Time, adding a lot of functionality to it, depending on what your job and hobbies are. When cycling around a part of Galway I’m not familiar with, I can get Google Map directions on my watch and strap it onto the handlebar. This is incredibly useful; I don’t have to buy a phone mount, and even with those, I can’t use my phone in the rain, and the Pebble Time is waterproof. Some other apps include a wrist metronome that vibrates according to the beats per minute you enter; as a drummer this is an amazing feature that I use quite a bit.

 

So there you have it. If you regularly use your phone, especially on the go, consider getting a smartwatch. They look pretty sexy too.

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