back to article Wearable hybrids prove the bloated smartwatch is one of Silly Valley's biggest mistakes

Imagine if Intel had decided in the 1980s that all of its CPUs henceforth would have a vast parallel processing unit worthy of a Cray supercomputer, integrated into every chip. This would quadruple the price of an Intel microprocessor, but "future-proof" its PCs. Samsung Gear S3 Smartwatch And lo, Qualcomm hath declared that …

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The Number of the Beast

My watch must have been massively over-specced because it's still working to spec. after 50-odd years of almost constant use.

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Re: The Number of the Beast

It's not really that the processors are too powerful for the job - they do the job fine. The bigger problem is that they are too powerful for the batteries you can fit in them...

If batteries could deliver ten times the power for the same volume, then the drain would be less of a problem.

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Anonymous Coward

What about an app that trains your wrist for optimal self delectation? If someone can pull that off I think they may be onto a winner.

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iTug?

iTug?

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Re: iTug?

iFap?

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Devil

Re: iTug?

iFap therefore iAm?

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Vibrate function?

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First paragraph

Surely if Intel only sold super high power CPUs in the 80s we'd just be using a different vendor's CPUs now, rather than not buying computers at all.

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Re: First paragraph

...Yes, we'd be using ARM for all our portable computing.

...looks around

...oh yes we are, aren't we?

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Flame

Pebble! Did all you want, reliably.

Nothing more to say.

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Re: Pebble! Did all you want, reliably.

Reliably? I think my brother ordered 3 and only ever got 2, and the first one had to be replaced twice.

Had they been better at logistics, they might not have gone bust and had to be bought out.

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Re: Pebble! Did all you want, reliably.

I'm sure your one off anecdote about your brother reflects the entire Pebble logistics.

Here's my one-off anecdote: Ordered original Pebble, recieved original Pebble, worked perfectly. Ordered Pebble Time, recieved Pebble Time, worked perfectly.

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Re: Pebble! Did all you want, reliably.

It's not a one-off anecdote. They massively over-funded on Kickstarter in their first campaign - and so unsurprisingly had huge delays in getting their product to their customers. And as far as I can tell, had the same problems with every product launch. It's not surprise - logistics is bloody hard, and presumably they were a techy company which was all about the shinies. But the point is that their logistics never improved and they were pretty much always delays and waiting lists to get them.

And when you say your Pebbles were delivered on time, I presume you mean they turned up when specified to you. But they missed their delivery deadlines for both the Pebble 1 and Pebble 3 - as in they didn't even ship in the same quarter that they announced when they launched the products.

I'm too lazy to look, but I think they also admitted publicly that they had quality control issues with the early model, and had to do a lot of replacing. Again not unusual.

This isn't exactly a unique problem in the tech industry.

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Depends on the watch

Having a nice watch on the wrist is convenient for a quick time check, more so than picking up my phone. Ditto, in other circumstances having a tough old watch that doesn't mind a few knocks, that I can risk getting scratched etc. if I'm doing a bit of gardening, tidying, cooking, other messy work.

If I could have such a watch that would also pass me my messages I'd be pleased and might even get one. GPS could be useful to me too if it was made practical, since it saves holding the phone in my hand. I'm a bit puzzled by the fitness app thing. Yes there are plenty of joggers. But really are there that many fitness fanatics around?

As to any other "smart" features; what's the point? If you want to do BookFace/Twitting and so on you are going to spend long enough to make it worthwhile to pick up your mobile with a decent screen.

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Anonymous Coward

'But the industry convinced itself'

That sums things up right there.... Whether its Reality-Distortion-Field economics or the Surveillance-Economy, its clear not many of us want this. Yet our input is never listened to anymore. From Silly 'con' Valley to South Korea, tech executives are tone deaf! You know, with Android-slurp, Win10-slurp, SmartTV-slurp, IoT-slurp, Car-slurp etc.... CES should really be renamed 'Surveillance-World'! But no one gives a fuck what we think. We're supposed to give thanks anyway, like we're dealing with God!

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Also applies to mobile phones when Silly Valley (Android and iPhone) got involved

any use case was considered. The hardware would have to be more powerful than it needed to be. Just in case. [...] It would be nice to think that Silicon Valley has learned something from the experience, that it doesn't need to shove an expensive chip into everything, or that "smart" is always preferable to "does the job". But I doubt it.

Gold-plated future-proofing or terrible inefficiency, or probably both...

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The point that smartwatches may or may not be overly powerful does have merit, depending on what exactly one expects from a smartwatch (and frankly I can think of at least some that would warrant all the processing power possible); however insinuating that this is a _price_ problem is beyond ludicrous seeing as how the cost of the smarts itself is effectively zero dollars in anything from a five bucks bracelet all the way to a thousand pound smartphone. Whatever spondulicks you're being mugged for buying your smartwatch, the SoC inside isn't what you're paying for...

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I don't get the distinction...

This : "Meanwhile, "dumb" wearables optimised for health and fitness tracking had been selling quite nicely"

I really don't get the distinction you are making between the iWatch being a "smart" watch and my Garmin 935 being a "dumb" wearable? There is nothing smart at all about the iWatch, and it does nothing that my Garmin can't.

Can someone explain? Although I think I already know the answer...

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Re: I don't get the distinction...

'I really don't get the distinction you are making between the iWatch being a "smart" watch and my Garmin 935 being a "dumb" wearable?'

Might be the same distinction I've been noticing recently. Some people call an iPhone a smartphone, but all others are not smartphones. The distinction is likely marketing driven.

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power consumption

Re: the TicWatch part of the story, what's sad is that the manufacturers have to switch to a different operating system to conserve power - surely any OS intended to be used primarily by battery powered devices (android, IOS etc) should be designed to use next-to-no power when inactive, and perform only the necessary functions at any point in time.

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Handiest thing about android aear was sneakily checking my messages while at work. Besides that, I've now settled on a Mi Fit instead for health and notification features. It means it can last a couple of weeks on one charge, rather than having to charge the Google LG watch every night.

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Positive reviews eh?

Well, come on Reg - lets be having one then :)

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Coat

The smartest watch of all...

Of course

Mine's the coat with a piece of paper in the pocket.

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Happy

Anecdotal

My sister's partner bought a second hand iPhone that came with an apple watch. I asked them what it was good for. "Charging" was the reply.

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Devil

Amazon Prime

Evil.

Cheats consumers (because most subscriptions do) and cheats content creators. Makes Amazon massive profits. Hence desire to have "cool" exclusives.

The article has a lot of sense (pity about Pebble). Sad it promotes an Amazon Prime Exclusive.

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Re: Amazon Prime

Was going to say exactly that - come on Reg?

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The Real Hybrid Smartwatch Experience

I have an Alpina AlpinerX. It's a proper Swiss watch, hand assembled in Geneva. It has a very discrete LCD display under standard analogue watchface. The watch tracks activity, sleep, temperature, altitude, barometric pressure and UV exposure. This information is presented in a very slick smartphone app (Android in my case).

I don't have to charge the battery because it lasts 2 years (which is guaranteed by Alpina).

I paid £420 for the watch as a Kickstarter Super Early Bird, retail price is likely to be closer to £1000, so I realize that it's not for everyone.

The AlpinerX is based on a movement from the MMT Horological Smartwatch platform. https://mmt.ch/

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computers...

PCs would have been more likely to run a network of green screen terminals using Sequent Unix or Microsoft Xenix.

That would have been a nice world to live in.

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Anonymous Coward

I've often thought that smart watches went off in the wrong direction. The problem is that vendors always fall into the trap of thinking "let's use our existing platform, then we can leverage all the synergies!" (or something).

I would have thought that you should go relatively low tech and cheap and simple. Maybe an E Ink display and modest CPU, and a tightly written custom OS to maximise battery life. Then you do what Apple did - put out an SDK, so the early adopters can have fun making their own apps. There are plenty of clever people out there, and someone would be bound to come up with a killer app, sooner or later.

But what do I know....

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I agree

I've been using a Pebble for years now, and once Pebble bit the dust I started looking at the other smartwatches. I haven't found one that actually meets my needs -- it seems like they're all trying to be a "smartphone in a watch", meaning that they're overly complicated and have terrible battery life. I'm still looking for a suitable Pebble replacement.

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Re: I agree

You should check out the amazfit bip (https://us.amazfit.com/shop) available from places like banggood for about £50 with a 45 day battery life, gps, heart rate, customizable faces, does everything my pebble used to do and much more. best smartwatch around IMO.

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Re: I agree

Thanks, I will!

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I rather enjoy my Amazfit Pace for fitness tracking. I'm not sure what it runs, but it's not trying to be a phone on my wrist. It has GPS and a really nice battery life, and is waaaaay cheaper than a Garmin. Things that try to do everything seem rather silly - it's nice to have a purpose-built option.

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I have exactly zero interest in fitness tracking, but if it can do the other things the Pebble can do, then this looks like a winner.

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This article is nuts! First of all, he’s to afraid to mention the Watch, which is very successful. Yes Android watches are failures, because people buying $300, or cheaper, phones aren’t going to buy a $300 smartwatch. That’s pretty obvious.

It’s just like “regular” watches that start at $250. There’s a market for them, but not for people who aren’t interested in spending the money. It’s why the Watch is a success. The average Watch sells for $385, but the average iPhone sells for almost $750.

My Watch saved my life back at the end of May, by notifying me of a very elevated heart rate, and stating that I should seek immediate medical attention. I went to the emergency room, and ended up in the hospital for 2.5 weeks. If it weren’t for that, I could be dead. So is this trivial? No, it’s not. It’s worth every penny. Your smartphone can’t do that.

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"My Watch saved my life back at the end of May, by notifying me of a very elevated heart rate, and stating that I should seek immediate medical attention. I went to the emergency room, and ended up in the hospital for 2.5 weeks. If it weren’t for that, I could be dead. So is this trivial? No, it’s not. It’s worth every penny. Your smartphone can’t do that."

So they save lives?

Arguably, a cheap plastic band around everyone in the world's arm that said "Don't smoke, and don't drive drunk" would save more lives by a bajillion percent. Your needs are not the needs of the market, when talking about absolute mass-market products, rather than niche ones.

(I would of course have the geek version--a mobius strip.)

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Smartwatches, like any other technology, will take off

when the porn industry discovers them.

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Reverse snobbery here

Haven't worn a watch for quite a few years. I'm bragging that I don't have to know the time accurately for anything -

The world can wait for me, I own my life and my time, not someone else or their schedule.

The only reason I use a clock is so I don't have to wait for some appointment. The one on the wall or in the car handles that fine.

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Re: Reverse snobbery here

Well, my time is increasingly my own. But I do inhabit the world, I do associate with other people and meet them at prearranged times*. I divide my time so that I can end one activity ready for another. And I use my watch in preference to my phone for most of this because it's there on the end of my arm, ready for a quick glance without the effort of putting down anything I'm holding to fish in my pockets for the mobile.

*I try to be punctual, not keep people waiting, and I expect the same from them. In fact at home if the agreed arrival time is approaching we say they are "nearly late". But then I'm a "glass is nearly half empty" sort of person.

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N2

I have a smart watch

I paid £330 for it and some 25 years later I could sell it for £500

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Generally, its silly to bluntly reject something. Time will tell :) if people prefer to embrace smartwatches en masse or not. Event if not, it could be a nice niche cash generator.

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