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Summary: Watch + Data = Smart Watch for MSN Direct
Review: I heard about Microsoft's Smart Personal Object Technology (SPOT) devices a while back, and it intrigued me. Although as a certified gadget geek I have a number of wireless devices that can receive news, weather, and sports, I had always thought that the perfect device would replace my existing watch. While this first generation device isn't perfect, it's not bad.
Opening the box containing the Abacus Wrist Net Smart Watch for MSN Direct (there's a mouthful!), you'll find two small manuals, the watch, and a two-piece charger. The charger consists of a plug (thoughtfully made to fold flat) and a rather clunky charger with an "arm" that rotates into place to hold the watch. You just lay the watch onto the arm and it starts charging through induction - no charging port or contacts to get dirty!
You need to activate the watch through MSN Direct to get your news, and it's best to take the $59 one-year subscription rather than go with the $9.95 monthly plan. You will need a credit card to subscribe. Once you've entered your unique watch ID and personal information, you get to pick the type of content you want sent to your watch. At this time (1/7/04) the sports channel powered by ESPN isn't available, but it's supposed to be ready soon.
It takes about 10 minutes to get a confirmation message on the watch telling you everything's OK, and then it can take up to 12 hours for all of your info to show up.
There are five buttons on the device that are used to turn on the white backlight (rather uneven, I thought), change channels, and navigate (enter, next, and previous). The buttons seem a little spongy, but not too bad. The Abacus AU4000 isn't waterproof but will survive splashes. If you're used to very expensive thin watches you'll hate this, but anyone who likes clunky multifunction watches will love this. From a design standpoint, the $299 Suunto N3 sure looks a lot nicer, but functionally it doesn't do anything different than this watch.
A charge is supposed to last 2 - 3 days, and I think I may just put my watch on the charging arm every night when I go to bed. Heavy use of animated screens will drain the battery faster; like any first-generation electronic device, battery life is an issue.
So far I'm fairly impressed, and find the display to be clear and easy to read. Just showing the Weather Channel info to friends has been good for a lot of positive comments, and folks have been sending me MSN Messenger "pages" just for fun. If you're an early adopter, you'll probably want to get one of these new watches; if not, wait for the second generation devices.
Summary: Impressed so far...
Review: I purchased this watch after a 3 year lack of a wrist watch. My Phone was too clumsy to look at time, and I wanted a tech saavy watch. This is my first delve into MS Watches, but so far I am impressed. Set up was a breeze, Once it had charged (overnight) the morning, it was ready with all my calander and news and stocks right there. I did purchase the extended warranty, why not its an expensive little new gadget...I want to be covered incase something happens...
One drawback...not water proof per say...it can get splashed...but you have to take it off to shower or swim... I have a big wrist so the watch is the right size, though it will be big on some people.
I love this thing so far...and no issues yet.
Summary: Pretty amazing for what it is
Review: No, this won't replace your cell phone, and you can get more current info off the internet, but if you want to have sport scrores or stock quotes or brief news items available to you wherever you are, at the push of a few buttons, then this might be for you.
For me, the two most useful items are perfect time-keeping, linked to US national standard time, and MSN messaging.
I don't leave my cell phone on, and I don't give out the cell number, because I hate it when people think I'm at their beck and call. But this gives me the ability to get some messages, at MY convenience, wherever I am. A lot like email, but portable, and on MY terms.
I bought one at CES from the Fossil booth, and it took all of 20 minutes to register it, set up preferences and get my first message.
One small note: the antenna in the Fossil watches is in the watchband, so you're stuck with the watchband they provide. Suunto makes a SPOT watch with the antenna in the watch's rim, so you can change bands. They lose a little reception strength due to the smaller antenna, but it's a trade off.
As far as the Fossil's reception -- I've had good reception in places (like buildings) where my cell phone doesn't see signal. That's all I can ask.
The watch has a rechageable battery. THe claim 2 days between recharges, but, even with my excessive new-toy usage, I still had 35% battery after 3 days, so a good 3 days is a better estimate.
Oh, the bulk of the watch isn't as bad as some say, although the fx-3000 model is bigger. I have a Nike sports watch that is substantially larger.
Summary: Lots of gadget geek appeal, but not ready for prime time
Review: Wow, that guy from Boise sure has a lot of watch rage! Most of what he/she says doesn't make sense and is not even accurate. Anyway, I've had this watch for a little over a week now, and let me give you a quick review.
The upshot is, at first I found a lot to complain about, but after a week, it started to grow on me, and right now, I like it a lot, and everyone I show it to is impressed, although most don't think it's worth the price + subscription fee. Anyway, I don't regret this purchase like I did with the T-Mobile Sidekick.
- Lots of geek appeal with real-time information updates
- Changeable watch faces
- Can receive updates from Outlook Calendar
- Atomic clock auto-syncing
- ESPN channel coming at end of January
- 10-second white backlight at the touch of a button
- Alarm clock, chronograph (stop watch), timer, time zones
- FM radio frequency, so low power and potentially low chances of us getting tumors from wearing this
- Kinda large, not for slim wrists
- Not particularly attractive physically
- No color
- Battery life can be an issue; I've recharged only once but it's only because I use the animations sparingly and turn off the radio at night
- The wrist band is hard to use and adjust (this is one thing the rage man from Boise got right)
- Update can be slow at times
- You need to set up a travel schedule to receive personalized information (i.e., Outlook appointments) when you travel, which is totally stupid, especially as the set-up page on the Web is a perfect example of stupid programming (but not unlike the typical Microsoft goofs) -- too complicated to explain here, let's just say it doesn't work the way it should.
- Coverage is not consistent, and only works in the U.S. and Canada
My initial impression was this deserved no more than 2 stars, as the watch was kinda ugly and all the information you get (weather, news headlines, up to 15 stock quotes, Outlook calendar, etc.) is nice to have but totally not necessary, especially for people like myself who sit in front of the Internet all day and half night. Plus, set up was more confusing than warranted, and the battery life issue was a big turn off.
But there is just so much gadget-freak factor in this watch. It's actually more useful than my Casio camera watch or some prototypes of communicator watches I've seen in Asia, because, at least for a guy, the size is acceptable, and there's something about getting real-time weather and stock quotes that just fascinate me. The weather channel is especially impressive, especially on cold wintry days like these in New York. Pressing the channel button to cycle through the various channels -- BTW there's also a special channel that automatically cycles through the channels for you -- has a certain magical power of its own, and I just love showing this off to friends and coworkers, and get lots of pleasure when people come into my office to ask "oh what is like outside?" or "hey show me your watch again."
Should you buy this? It's very hard to say. Luckily MSN Direct offers a free month if you sign up with the monthly plan. Then if you like it, you can switch to the annual plan and save 50%. If you don't, at least Amazon offers a nice 30-day MBG policy.
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