raspy's flirtations with a smartwatch

Discussion in 'General Smartphone/Handheld/Wearable Discussion' started by raspabalsa, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. raspabalsa

    raspabalsa Brain stuck BogoMipping

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    I've been thinking about getting a smartwatch for a long time. More than 2 years, actually. There are many reasons why I haven't purchased one, but the main ones are the poor battery endurance and the questionable usefulness. Luckily, I had the chance to use a smartwatch for the past few days, courtesy of a friend who purchased a Samsung Galaxy S9+ and got a Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro bundled with it. He let me use it until he goes home and hand it over to his daughter, so I'm taking extra care not to damage its looks. Here's a long rant about my very first hands-on multiple-day smartwatch experience:

    The Gear Fit 2 Pro is a mid-range smartwatch. It's marketed as a "fitness tracker" but it looks like a smartwatch, seems to work as one, and shows the time, so I'll keep calling it smartwatch. The GF2P lacks a lot of the features found in premium models (or in "true" smartwatches, perhaps). The GF2P does not have a speaker, microphone, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, simcard, standard bracelet (or even a easily replaceable proprietary bracelet). It does have a touchscreen, AMOLED screen, BT, WiFi, GPS, 4GB storage, heart rate sensor, pedometer, acelerometer, gyroscope, and apparently it also has a barometer. Setup is simple, aided by a well-designed step-by-step guide on the phone and watch. I had to install a couple of apps and plugins on my phone to get it working, pairing with my LG G6 was fast and simple, initial configuration was quick, and within 5 minutes I had it strapped around my left wrist, wondering what to do with it.

    On the good side, I've always wanted to use a watch to control my phone's audio player. The GF2P has a built-in app with basic controls (Play/pause, previous/next track, volume). This app can either control the phone's audio player or play music from the GF2P's internal storage to a BT headset. There are a few watch faces that incorporate audio control, and there's also a swipe down gesture from any screen to deploy a shade with four controls (screen brightness, do not disturb, "Water lock mode" -more on this later-, and audio player). The audio player app shows artist and track name, and it works with all the players I have (JetAudio Plus, Neutron, Poweramp, Google Play Music, LG Music). It even works with MX Player Pro! The only caveat is that the player must be launched first on the phone and you must press Play there first, then the watch can control playback.

    The sports- or health-related features are interesting and useful, although overkill for me. The "Water lock mode" will disable the wake-up gesture (lifting the arm and turning the hand towards one's face will turn the screen on), will also turn off the always-on watch, so the user can "splash around without tapping anything", as the built-in help says. I'm not much of a water splasher, so overkill for me. The heart rate sensor works very well, it keeps the average, lowest and highest readings on a weekly basis, as well as the most recent reading. The pedometer is not very accurate, or maybe the watch hasn't yet measured my stride properly yet. Today it reported I had walked 800 meters, when in fact I walked about 2km. There's also a calorie counter, step counter, climb counter, "food counter" (as if I'm going to admit eating donuts or ice cream), and - sacrilege!! - a caffeine counter! I already deleted this widget from the screen. The watch apparently can detect different activities (walking cycling, running, climbing), and that will surely be useful to a real sportsman, but are mostly novelties for me. These health features can be very annoying too, as the watch will nag you if you stay still more than an hour (what's wrong with taking a nap in the couch?!), and will seemingly randomly track and report the sleep cycle. This is mostly useless for me, as the GF2P's battery doesn't last long to use it overnight, yet the device will insist on tracking my sleep pattern.

    My main focus when thinking about using a smartwatch was how it could complement, augment, or even replace, the phone's functions. As a remote control for audio playback it works very well, except that I can't use it during a flight. As a phone complement, it's not too useful for me. It will show notifications from as many apps as I select. I set notifications from Whatsapp, Calengoo, and Gmail. The watch will vibrate to notify, and I can read the whole email or message on its screen and even reply, selecting from a set of user-created quick replies (Ok, Yes, No, Can't talk now, Will call later, etc.). But the notification is mostly a hit-and-miss so far: often my phone will ring as a Whatsapp message arrives, but the watch will not vibrate, meaning it hasn't received the notification yet. Then it will work flawlessly for half a day or so, and then it will start missing messages again. To be a full phone complement it must work every time, else it's useless IMO. However, I can't tell if any of this could be my phone's fault. But, and this is the ironic part, I'm still not sure it's at all useful to receive my notifications on a watch. True, I can discreetly answer my messages during a meeting, and even see who's calling and reject said call (this watch can neither answer nor make calls). At most it will save me a dozen seconds of time every time a message arrives, as I don't have to reach for my phone, unlock it, and press on the notification shade, but I don't see how this improves my typical usage.

    That's the good, the novelty, and the dubious side of the GF2P. Now for the bad side, which is not insignificant. First, the battery. I charged it last night, unplugged it at 5 AM this morning, and by 7 PM it showed 35% remaining battery. That's 14 hours connected to my phone, with the always-on clock turned on, receiving maybe 50 notifications and more than a few health-related nags, and no audio streaming. Plenty for a day, nowhere near enough for more than one. This means I'll have to take it off every night to recharge. This is not something I look forward to, especially since the GF2P is charged with a proprietary desk dock that must be plugged to a wall adapter or USB charger, so it's one more gadget to carry around, one with no other function. The GF2P is very power-conscious, meaning it will complain if you turn on the "always-on" watch, it will complain if you turn brightness to maximum, and even after acknowledging this complain, it will turn maximum brightness down after 5 minutes on its own, so I must keep pumping it up again and again. Why? Because the screen is not very readable under direct sunlight, and the phone does not have an ambient light sensor to adapt brightness accordingly. The "always-on" clock is very dim even with max brightness, making it completely unreadable even under a somewhat cloudy sky. Turning the brightness to maximum makes the clock somewhat readable, but even the widgets and controls are not easy to read outdoors. I had to constantly shade it with one hand to read or reply the notifications, often because the GF2P had already turned brightness down on its own. The watch is designed for two-hand use, but it's one thing to use the second hand to control it, and quite another to have to use it to shade the screen, then try to tap on the proper button once the shade is removed. More about tapping buttons: most are well-placed and properly sized, well enough for my big clumsy fingers, but quite a few are too small and too close to the screen edges for ease of use. When deleting watch faces or widgets, the button is on a corner, where I find it hard to press it. If I set a screen lock, the number pad is so small I need several tries to enter the PIN, so I had to disable this setting.

    At the end of the day, I'm still wondering what to make of a smartwatch. I find the GF2P to be a very good remote control, a good but naggy health tracker, a poor notification mirror, and a well-built device with lousy battery endurance and unreadable screen unless indoors. I still can't see the actual need for one, nor a real benefit. I won't keep one as a fashion statement -or even a geek statement. But I have refined my comprehension of smartwatches and with that I have fine-tuned my requirements for one: Good remote control functions, with a good battery endurance (over a week), a truly readable screen under direct sunlight, larger round screen to increase ease of use, standard watch strap, speaker and microphone, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, and improved notification system. Will I buy a device that has all these features? I still doubt it, since IMO there's no critical function offered by these devices, but there are several major drawbacks. With that, my very short flirt with a smartwatch ends. This particular GF2P is still as good as new, not a dent or scratch, so I'll just wipe it and return it to my friend. I'll return my Casio quartz analogue dumbwatch to its proper place on my left wrist, and wait another two years to see if there's a suitable smart replacement.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
  2. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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    Lots of words. No pictures. Me tired. :)
     
  3. raspabalsa

    raspabalsa Brain stuck BogoMipping

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    A rant with pictures is called an "article" or "piece". BTW, Conventional wisdom dictates that rants are best written late at night, but best read during the day, at work, especially during long meetings.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018
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  4. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta Peanut, leader of the Peanutty Forces

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    …and such a long rant provides *many* opportunities for disrespectful snips! to be 'improved' by having pictures added (once dragged sufficiently off topic of course)
     
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  5. raspabalsa

    raspabalsa Brain stuck BogoMipping

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    ... But remember, The Formula must be respected, the system must be served.
     
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  6. scjjtt

    scjjtt A Former Palm User

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    I read it all Raspy - even without pictures! As I read it I realized that you just need a good Pebble watch - which would meet almost all your wants in a SmartWatch except - THEY DON'T MAKE THEM ANYMORE. (Sorry for expressing my emotions - I haven't had my coffee yet. AND I DON'T NEED A WATCH TELLING ME I'VE HAD TOO MUCH COFFEE EITHER!)

    Sent from my LG G4 using Tapatalk
     
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  7. Hook

    Hook Phone Killer ;-) Arrrrr...f

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    I'm still waiting for my Space Ghost arm band... :vbrolleyes: :vbgrin:
     
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  8. raspabalsa

    raspabalsa Brain stuck BogoMipping

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    Your emotions closely match mine on these matters, Scott. I just placed the GF2P on its charge dock (my friend will soon arrive to receive it) on my desk, and I had two large mugs of coffee right in front of it. I mentally dared it to start nagging, but it remained dark and silent. :D
    Yeah, or Leela's arm computer :D
     
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  9. scjjtt

    scjjtt A Former Palm User

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    Well - what great timing - I don't have to start a new thread or find an old one - I can just add to Raspy's!

    As Mrs scjjtt was taking off to her Junior High School, where she is the Title One Instructional Specialist, she came back upstairs & said there has been a diaster. I thought, 1. Car battery is dead or 2. Garage door will not open (it has happened 2-3 times in 12 years - the heat in AZ are tough on garage doors that you constantly use to go in & out of your home).

    It was none of the above. A week ago her Pebble Round clear watch face came off. We couldn't find it. I put a watch face protective screen on - hoping that would hold things together - but that bandaid only worked for a few days. Mrs scjjtt presented me with her watch...

    Picture for jig & the rest of you...




    Mrs scjjtt is very hard on watches. As long as this lasted (which I bought refurbished) I am impressed.

    As she was leaving with a dumb watch I immediately went to Amazon & bought her a new $120 Pebble Round.

    The Pebble Round is probably still the smallest smartwatch on the market. With Mrs scjjtt small wrists - it fits perfectly & looks good!

    What a coincidence that this happened this morning. I'm sure glad I had my coffee!
    Attach0_20180412_072000.jpg

    Sent from my LG G4 using Tapatalk
     
  10. lelisa13p

    lelisa13p Your Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    Timing is everything. :newpalm:
     
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