If you visited CES for the first time this year, you'd be forgiven if you thought you had wandered into a jewelry show by accident. It seemed like everywhere we turned we saw watches, but none of them were simple timepieces. From the I'm Watch with its custom version of the Android operating system to the COOKOO's simple analog design, each of these devices pulls data from the Internet and brings it to your wrist.
Wondering whether the boss sent you an email or your wife sent you a private Facebook message? No need to pull our your phone. There's a watch for that. These are the five best smart watches we saw at CES 2013.
The most high-tech watch of the show is also one of the best looking. With a stunning matte aluminum chassis that also comes in titanium or gold and your choice of sleek, colorful bands, this product looks like it came from Milan, because it did. I'm Watch is the first product from Italian start-up I'm Spa and, though the company began shipping products last summer, the watch has been updated with a fresh UI and the ability to add apps. The Italian watch comes with a custom version of Android that uses your phone's Bluetooth connection to grab your email, Facebook messages, texts and tweets so you can view them at a glance. The I'm Market is filled with additional apps you can use to improve your experience, from a metronome that keeps the time for you to a flashlight app for lighting your way. The watch also uses your phone's Bluetooth connection to make calls with its speaker and mic, but in our testing, the audio was too garbled to hear. Available on imwatch.it, the I'm Watch is available today with a starting price of $389 for the aluminum model.
It may look like an ordinary analog watch, but the Martian Watch will make you feel like a sci-fi hero every time you strap it on. Like Dick Tracey, you'll make crystal-clear calls directly from your wrist, and get SMS, weather and other alerts on the Martian's small LED screen. Like Michael Knight talking to K.I.T.T., you'll use the Martian Watch to interact with your favorite digital assistant,whether that's Siri on the iPhone or Google Voice on Android handsets. Finally, like Tom Cruise in "Minority Report," you'll use gestures to control your environment as you shake your wrist to deny an incoming call. Partially funded by Kickstarter, the Martian Watch will start shipping to early backers in March. Models range in price from $249 to $299.
A wristwatch first and a smart device second, the $129 COOKOO reminds us of a swatch, with its vibrantly colored silicon bands, luminous hands and hour markings. To keep you up to date, the device uses an Android or iPad app along with low-power Bluetooth to find out when you have incoming calls, upcoming appointments or new Facebook messages. However, there's no digital display on the COOKOO to show the text from your messages. Instead the face has a set of lights built in that light up when you get an alert, much the way gas and oil lights appear on your car's dashboard. By keeping things simple, the COOKOO not only looks great, but lasts 9 or 10 months using a normal watch battery.
Like the I'm Watch, the Pebble gives you alerts from your email, Facebook, Twitter, SMS and other accounts, but this device uses a low-power ePaper screen that provides improved sunlight readability and up to 7 days of battery life on a single charge. Even better, because of its low-power usage, the screen remains lit at all times, displaying the digital watch face of your choice. Water-resistant up to 5ATM, the Pebble is available in five fashion colors, including Jet Black, Arctic White, orange, gray and, our favorite, Cherry Red. Backed by Kickstarter, the $150 watch will start shipping to early backers at the end of January, with others receiving units thereafter.
Another Android watch from the developers who worked on the original I'm Watch, WearIT focuses on fitness but offers a host of lifestyle-friendly features. To help you stay fit, the WearIT has ANT connectivity so it can pair with external heart monitors, blood glucose meters and other health-related devices. Timer apps and a GPS maps app help you keep track of your running progress. Even if you're the ultimate couch potato, the WearIT has plenty of features to keep you occupied, including music and video playback, social media updates and the ability to install apps on top of its Android 4.1 operating system. Though it's in the prototype staqe right now, Si14 hopes to unveil a final version this spring, which will likely be sold under its partners' brands.