Friday, March 10, 2017

A smartwatch for grownups

I'm evaluating the new $295 Michael Kors Access Hybrid Brown Gage Smartwatch for the Amazon Vine Program this week and I think I like it.

When I think of smartwatches, the first thing that comes to mind is the Apple Watch, which is actually a wearable little computer. This is NOT an Apple Watch. It looks like an ordinary analog watch with an easy-to-read silver-on-black face and a couple of function buttons.

There is no way to change the face and have all of the tricky features that come with the Apple Watch, but therein lies the feature that makes me prefer the MK watch - those features come at a heavy energy price. The Apple Watch has to be recharged every 18 hours or less, depending on how much you do with it. The MK watch has a battery (CR2430) that is expected to last about 40 days - maybe more, depending on usage.

After nearly 20 years with a self-winding Breitling, the idea of charging my watch every night tells me the Apple Watch is a toy that is not to be taken seriously as a daily wear timepiece. The MK watch makes a lot more sense to me in terms of energy requirements.

The MK watch uses a proprietary MK Access app that you download free from wherever your smartphone gets its apps. It walks you through the initial setup process, which synchs your phone and watch via Bluetooth.

The MK watch is also an activity tracker of modest abilities - it calculates how many steps you take each day and estimates what that means in terms of calories burned.

It also monitors your sleep pattern. In both cases, you get to set your step and sleep goals and you can tell at any time where you are in your pursuit of the goals.

The top button swivels the hands around to indicate the day of the week (hour hand) and day of the month (minute hand).

You can program the bottom button to ring your phone, control the music on your smartphone, trip the shutter on your phone's camera or track your goal progress.

It can buzz when someone you deem important calls you (a handy feature if you're in a place where you have to mute the ringtone on your phone).

The MK watch may be short on entertainment, but it has lots of features that are actually useful. In short, it's a smartwatch for grownups.

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