16 October 2016

Your "Smart" Watch is Disposable Trash

Do You Know What Time It Is?
Let's get this out of the way up front: "Smart" watches are trash. I understand that this is a warm to hot take but I feel good about it. Let's unpack their disposable trash-ness.

Some context: In 1992 I bought a stainless steel (unusual for that time, when most Casio cases were resin) Casio Pentagraph DW-7200. I think I paid the princely sum of $120, which is about $200 today, so it was at the high end of the Casio range, mainly because of stainless case and screw down backing. Browsing the internets it seems that most people bought this thing because it looked cool: they liked the dials on the front (hence: 'pentagraph').

Since then I have replaced the band four or five times, and the battery once(!). It is no longer waterproof to 200M but it has served admirably for the past 20+ years. The only threat to its continued service is my own negligence. At this point it's the most reliable object I have ever owned. If everything else I bought lasted this long then the glorious consumer engine that is the American economy would shudder to a screeching halt. And it looks pretty good for what is now officially a 'vintage' Casio.

Contrast this functional, robust instrument with whatever 'smart' watch you like. This device has almost none of the features you can find on your Series 1* Apple "watch" (no retina display, no bluetooth -lulz, no wifi- lulz, no heart rate sensor, no 'watch os2' - whatever that is). It also doesn't have "up to 18 hours of battery life", which is a very interesting feature to offer in a device that is supposed to report the time and date, and also: are you fucking joking? What kind of asshole buys a 'watch' that can't even tell the time for at least 18 hours?

There are other watches that perform marginally better, but for the most part the pattern is the same. It's a micro-computer that integrates with the mini-computer in your pocket or purse, and in that role it is barely adequate. It does do some things, but you can get all of those things from your phone and a fitbit.

Also, let's be honest about what a 'smart' watch is: it's an excuse for someone to check their email and text messages without getting out their phone. So it gives you a new and novel way to be that asshole that is constantly checking your phone. Congratulations?

Will anyone be using these 'smart' watches in 20 years? Hell no. 10 years? No. Five years? Umm, no. In two or three years they will all be obsolete. And you will buy a new one, and then you have a growing collection of junk watches that won't even be as useful as the early-gen Ipods, which were at least viable as external hard drives.

Please don't buy a 'smart' watch. They are bad and dumb, and you are neither of those things. Right? Right.


* Note that the Series 1 is the old, even more trash version than the new version - Apple loves selling you overpriced disposable consumer items more than anyone. Don't people get tired of planned obsolescence?

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