Whether or not you like them or not (or think Apple has one coming), Smart Watches are definitely starting to become a prevalent segment. Time will tell if they have staying power, or will go the path of things like the SPOT watches. Today, we’ll have a look at the first one I’ve had a chance to review, the MetaWatch Strata.
Our particular review unit is the blue version; the color in these models refers to the underside of the band and the sides of the case; the screen itself is a standard 96×96 pixel LCD. Of course, where this watch is looking to set itself apart is that screen, and what it can display.
With the MetaWatch, you can customize quite a variety of information, with the ability to rotate through different screens, which of course could have different datasets on them. You can have things like:
- Different watch faces
- Called ID and/or text message notification
- Stock information
They also have plans for additional expansions to the capability; you can read about their further plans here. The next question (perhaps) would be how this data is getting onto the watch. Rather than baking in some sort of newfangled wireless tech, it relies on Bluetooth to communicate with something you always have with you – your cell phone.
This introduces a fairly stringent set of characteristics your phone needs to have – if you’re an iPhone (4s or 5) user, you need to be on iOS 6 (or higher); if you have Android, you need to be running 2.3 or higher, and have a phone that supports the Bluetooth Serial Port Profile (SPP).
In our house, none of our phones are anywhere near being new enough to support this BT tech – thankfully, though, the family iPad did (note: this required using the iPhone app, as the iPad app hasn’t been delivered yet). While this indeed did work, it really underscored the need for this watch to be near the paired device.
While it just gives a simple buzz when you get out of range, and will keep functioning just fine, many of the more interesting elements (say, seeing calendar info or controlling music playback) really just falls off the cliff if you’re not near the phone or tablet. At that point, you’re just rocking a thick digital watch that can rotate through some static screens (well, time still works).
So, is this the watch for you? That’s hard for me to say, as this is really the only smartwatch I’ve reviewed, and I wasn’t truly able to utilize the capabilities. However, if you’re carrying a phone that will work with the watch, there’s a compelling case for being able to have the notifications (or change a music track) without having to pull your phone out of your pocket or bag. Starting at $179 (full product listing), the watch is firmly in the affordable camp – it’s just that the hurdle of compatibility is a pretty sizable one.
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