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CES is over and 2017 has begun. A few product announcements trickled out but there WILL be more to come as the year progresses, including some MORE big ones. And I mean BIG.
Here’s what CES brought us
Polar & Suunto
Both kindly brought us a new strap.
Polar’s H10 offers performance, accuracy and functionality updates. It seems to have accelerometer functionality for running metrics at some point in the future but no whiff off ANT+ bridging. Does it herald a new V800?…hard to say.
Suunto brought developers an out-of-the box sensor hardware platform that looks like a Suunto HRM. Of little interest for now to Jo public but in the future this could become VERY interesting as watch (and other) developers can speed up the time to market for their products by using the sensors that will be within the Suunto HRM.
Suunto also delivered on their 2016 promise to opticalise the SPARTAN SPORT on the wrist. They will announce the TRAINER later this year at some point. Probably sooner rather than later. (Yes opticalise is in the OED)
Garmin delivered far too many Fenix 5 models. I only want one! It has lots of interesting onboard stuff including maps on the 5x model.
Garmin have LOTS of releases lined up for us this year. Definitely a 930XT (probably sooner rather than later) and most likely we will soon see a 1010, 635 and 240/245 as well.
Well they now make phones but not yet sport smartwatches. They will soon make sport smartwatches – Feb 2017 by LG
The LG Watch Sport has good specs: 768MB of RAM, 4GB of storage (music and/or maps?) a battery capacity of 430mAh, an oHR and untethered GPS.
But what the major software deliverable in 2017 will be AndroidWear 2.0, that’s possible as soon as early February (Q1). With that release will come some of the watches listed below as well as 2 of their own. I’m getting quite excited about AW2.0. I don’t really know why. Windows 10 did the same to me. Weird.
AW2 isn’t going to be that different on the face of it. But I’m happy.
Fitbit, Samsung and TomTom
Fitbit and TomTom both brought us some updates to the apps and/or ecosystems. TomTom improved theirs and Fitbit promised to further complicate their currently good offering. Samsung teamed up with Under Armour to take over the world. Well, Croydon at any rate.
Casio brought us the snappily named PRO TREK WSD F-20. An AndroidWear 2.0 device that offers GPS enablement over and above last year’s model. It has lots of clever stuff and is a TREKKER/HIKERs watch rather than a sports watch. The hardware supports a chest strap through AndroidWear but not through the Casio AW2 app. We need to see how its use of GPS will impact battery life. If it impacts it heavily it will make it useless as a ‘pro’ trekker’s device and, instead, it will be a just off to walk around the park watch.
If it’s clever it could make a good competitor to the Fenix 5x in the hiking market as it will have cached maps and it will be MUCH cheaper.
Last year at CES, Huawei released watches for the ‘fashion’ market. I do own a Huawei phone and it’s Ok despite their corruption of the Androidwear interface. Their newer bands look OK too. However of specific interest is the Huawei Fit watch. This has been somewhat maligned by, ahem, well-known gadget sites who don’t quite always seem to know what they are talking about. The Fit Watch comes packed with FIRSTBEAT goodness and a decent water rating. It might lack in some areas BUT at just over £/$/Eu 100 (TBC) it’s is SUPER CHEAP. So if you compare its functions to a Fenix 5 the loser is obvious. If you compare it to sports watches at the same price point it’s not so bad at all. (announced pre-CES).
You could have SO much fun with the name of this watch that it’s almost not worth looking at what the device itself can do. Misfit is, of course, an awkward trying-to-be-cool name to start off with. Vapor is spelt wrong (vapour) as I am English. Actually I don’t mind anyone spelling anything how they want to in other countries but maybe they should have though of internationalisation if they hope to sell the product outside of the US? That then leads us to Vapour-wear as the product won’t be released for AT LEAST 6 more months. Sigh. Then of course I manage to capture the ‘own goal’ image to the right. OK I’ll stop now. It actually looks good, has, GPS, ohr etc etc and ticks many of the right boxes. Problems are the battery life and the non-Androidwearness. But it REALLY is quite pretty. I’d even wear one myself.
Finallement (that’s “finally” in French for my German reader)
AndroidWear 2 niceness from New Balance. This has been long in the offing. It looks alright (note that I did NOT SAY ‘LOOKS AWESOME’) and ticks all the boxes but comes in around £/$300 (TBC). Battery life will be its undoing at 5 hours, maybe the price/features too.
Summary: All the stuff vaguely like an AndroidWear watch is inferior to Polar’s M600 which, if bees had knees, would be the M600 (someone please help me with that sentence’s structure, it’s come out all wrong and should be REALLY funny).
Suunto might be redeeming themselves (I love the SPARTAN, redemption not required for me),
Polar are proceeding with sensible, incremental caution.
Garmin’s Fenix 5 is going to sell even more than the Fenix 3; trust me…they REALLY have done market research. And I am going to get very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very excited if the Garmin Forerunner 935 pokes its pretty head out in April (it will…or Kona). And I’m going to buy myself a Fenix 5x too and tell you about it. £1000 on Garmin watches…sigh.
Question: As to the title of the post and to which one will fail first – I don’t know. Tricky question. I’ll say Huawei have a tricky task as they will compete in the most competitive part of the market and no-one outside of Asia can pronounce their name. Apparently the New Balance is under-featured, so that has a BIG task ahead of it with potential reputational damage – it may be their first AND LAST sports watch.
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