Thursday, March 15, 2007

Why I Don't Wear a Watch

As I passed the Garmin store on Michigan Avenue this morning a window display for their new Forerunner 205 watch caught my eye. It's a sleek but bulky watch for runners that monitors heart rate and tracks your route with GPS among other exercise-related things. I had seen a positive review of it in Wired Magazine which praised the features but gave it a little ding on the bulk factor. Overall it seems like a pretty nifty watch which I have no intention of ever buying.

I started thinking about the fact that I haven't worn a watch in over a decade and when I did I didn't really like it. I didn't feel it was worth the annoyance of having something strapped to my wrist when there are already so many clocks around. I, like many people, use my mobile phone, currently a Cingular 8125, to tell time. Someone asks if I have the time and I reach into my coat or pants pocket, fish out my phone, turn on the screen, and tell them the time. Of course by then they've probably asked someone else who's wearing a watch.

Every now and then, like this morning, I check out the latest in watch technology and each time I invariably I come to the same conclusion: Watches never do enough. I realize this is insane. A watch is supposed to tell time. But whenever I look at a watch online or in a store I feel like simply telling the time is a waste of technology. Sure you can buy watches that give news headlines or scores, but that requires a monthly fee. And usually they look kind of hard to read and interact with. This Garmin Forerunner watch does all kinds of things but it's limited to fitness. What about when I'm not exercising? Then it's just a little clock again.

I like the idea of a Web-enabled watch but, like I said I don't want another monthly fee. A wi-fi watch would only be helpful when you were near a connection and there just aren't enough free wi-fi spots. Maybe a bluetooth watch that could use your mobile phone's signal. Hmmm. Of course the interface would have to be really good for a screen that size and they almost never are. Usually data watches have big low-resolution icons and fonts, horrible for reading anything more than a phone number, much less a news headline.

Anyway I've decided that in order to get all the functionality I want in a slick, stylish package I will have to do something I never do. I will have to beg Apple. Please release an iWatch. Sigh.

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