Archos jumps into the connected device market in a big way

archos-smartwatch-press-leadArchos unveiled a slew of new connected products in advance of CES, targeting two main areas.  The first is an array of products that’s very similar to Withings to help you track your personal fitness – a wrist-mounted activity tracker, a blood pressure monitor, and a wifi-enabled scale, everything syncing to a smartphone app.  The second set of products falls into the connected home category – a weather station and wifi camera, and a tablet computer to help join it all together.

There’s one more bit of technology though that kinda bridges these two…a smartwatch!  Well, more than one smartwatch, actually, with the cheapest priced at $50.

This market is becoming rapidly crowded…and I expect that 2014 will see this market explode, especially if Apple jumps in as expected.  Start saving your pennies now, it’s going to be an expensive year for gadget lovers!

Look for more details on these products from Archos (and probably a dozen other competitors) once CES opens on January 7th.

Samsung smartwatch

galaxygearleadSo Samsung unveiled their ‘Galaxy Gear‘ smartwatch today (it’ll be for sale sometime later this year).  I don’t know why, but I’m just, well, underwhelmed.  It’s sleek but big, blocky, and ugly.  I think that’s what strikes me though…that large, flat screen is just hard to make fit in on your wrist IMO.  Adding a camera to it was a strange move and one that I think people won’t readily accept (privacy concerns).  Engadget has an in-depth review here if you want to know more (TechCrunch has a good article on this too).

I think a curved screen is going to be necessary to make smart watches ‘fit in’ on your wrist….otherwise it just looks weird.  I stopped using my Pebble once the novelty wore off…though that’s partly due to the limit apps available for it…it just wasn’t a very smart watch, frankly!  I think Samsung has really left the door wide open for Apple to swoop in and dominate this market…

Pebble Smartwatch – first impressions

Well it ended up being about six months late, but…my Pebble Smartwatch finally arrived!  I backed this on Kickstarter knowing it might be a bit delayed (most projects there are), but wow, sure took ’em a while.  So, was it worth the wait?  To be honest, I’m still undecided.  The build quality is very nice and the product is exactly as it’s been portrayed…except for one glaring omission.  This is, at its most basic level, just a remote display for your iPhone…what makes it special are the apps it runs to help extend functionality of your phone.  I figured that with such a long delay on the manufacturing side, the software would be further along and would blow me away, but that’s not the case.  There are no apps.  It’ll control the music playing on your phone, and display text messages and some other phone notifications…but its functionality doesn’t go much beyond that.  I think this is a problem easily solved and I do expect that situation to improve…but this company can’t afford delays, there are very large competitors eying this market and contemplating a move into it.  Pebble needs to move fast, extend their reach and dominate this market or else they’ll quickly be pushed aside by the 800-pound gorillas in the room.  Their hardware is good…they need to quickly build their app ecosystem now.

The Year of the Smartwatch

2013 is quickly shaping up to be ‘the year of the smart watch’, as early entries hit the market (Pebble, Metawatch, I’m watch, etc).  Following closely behind are an increasing number of big players, few of whom admit to working on a smartwatch but all suspected of doing so.  Among them, Apple, Google, LG, and Samsung.  Whether products from those bigger companies will hit the market in 2013 is a bit uncertain, but I’d say it’s very likely that at least two of those companies will be shipping a smartwatch in time for Christmas.  As the early entries show, the technology is mostly here, with issues seeming to revolve around battery life and overall software/usability.