We are constantly discussing and evaluating all smartwatches and smartwatch apps from concept through production, including after-sale firmware and software updates, attempting to determine the best smartwatch. At this time, the market is still in its infancy and there is no smartwatch that truly stands above the rest. It appears to us that, in their race to get a product to market first, wearable computing manufacturers have besieged consumers with mostly incomplete product offerings. However, many of these can and will be improved with firmware and software updates. In addition, there are literally dozens of smartwatches, currently in development, that are posed to be released by the end of the year, including smartwatch offerings from electronics and computing powerhouses such such as Apple, Google, and Samsung. Nonetheless, if you love being an early adopter, like we do, here are our five favorite smartwatches as they exist today:
1. Pebble Smartwatch *Best Smartwatch of 2015*
#1 Best Smartwatch – Pebble Smartwatch
The Pebble Smartwatch is unanimously the crowd favorite. It set a new record for crowd source funding on Kickstarter while still in the concept phase and its popularity has not since waned. The Pebble’s creators had the vision, had the experience, and most importantly, effectively marketed the hell out of this device even before the first unit shipped. In fact, we would dare to say that the Pebble single-handedly ignited the smartwatch market frenzy that is just beginning to really surge.
We feel that, although the Pebble Smartwatch is your best choice right now, it is still an incomplete product. We base this statement largely upon the complete lack of useful software. And, while we are sure that such software will be forthcoming, it is not available yet. However, the strength of this watch lies in its technical specs, in its ability to be upgraded through firmware and completed through software, and in the fact that its sheer popularity ensures that useful and productive apps will be available shortly.
UPDATE: Pebble Technology started shipping the Pebble Steel on January 28, 2014. The new smartwatch has basically the same internals as the original Pebble, adding a more sophisticated steel case and band and an additional leather strap. We are putting the new Pebble Steel through its paces right now and will be posting a review shortly …
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2. Martian Smartwatch
#2 Best Smartwatch – Martian Voice Command Watch
The Martian Smartwatch is the most elegant of the currently available smartwatches. Whereas the Pebble is designed as a stand alone smart device that functions in tandem with the user’s smartphone, the Martian is designed to be used simply as an extension of the smartphone. Nonetheless, the Martian Smartwatch offers hands-free voice commands, messages and alerts display, and smartphone camera control. These features, combined with sophisticated styling, makes the Martian Smartwatch a top choice for someone not looking to carry a full-fledged computer around on their wrist.
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3. i’m Watch Smartwatch
#3 Best Smartwatch – I’m Watch
The i’m Watch is by far the best modern looking smartwtach available today … not surprising considering it is Italian made. It has great looks, great specs, and just feels solid. The problem with this smartwatch, like most of the contenders, is that the firmware and software just feel unfinished and incomplete. However, this shortcoming can be easily remedied should the much need updates be released. If i’m Watch can get the firmware and software right, we could see this beautiful piece of gear easily rising to the number one spot on our top 5 list … it is just that pretty.
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4. Sony Smartwatch 2 SW2
#4 Best Smartwatch – Sony Smartwatch 2 SW2
The most recent addition to our Top 5 smartwatch list is the Sony Smartwatch 2, a just released upgrade from Sony’s first crack at the emerging smartwatch market. Although, before it was released, we felt that it was simply a rehash of the original Sony Smartwatch 1, now that it has arrived it has turned out to be much more. Not evolutionary, but a true contender given the current state of smartwatch technology. If this watch was not limited solely to Android phones, and included iOS and the iPhone into its fold, it would be ranked higher on our list of best smartwatches. Be sure to read our upcoming in-depth review of the Sony Smartwatch 2.
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5. ConnecteDevice Cookoo Smartwatch
#5 Best Smartwatch – ConnecteDevice Cookoo
Rounding out our favorite smartwatches list is the Cookoo Watch. It is simple, unpretentious, and has few features. However, it is well designed, well constructed, and intended, like the Martian Passport, to function as an extension of the wearer’s smartphone, not a replacement of it. And, like our other picks, its software is incomplete with the feel of a beta. Nonetheless, once this issue is resolved, this sporty casual entry will definitely have a place in the emerging smartwatch market, thus warranting inclusion onto the list of our top 5 favorite smartwatches.
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Our 5 Favorite Smart Watches Currently In Development
CES 2014 saw a plethora of new smartwatches being dangled before consumers anxious for wrist-worthy tech. Some looked quite promising and some a bit tired and uninspired. However, as you can see, the developing trend is toward better aesthetics, making the watch look more like a sophisticated timepiece and less like a 1980s Casio Digital. In addition, many of the manufacturers seem to be making a point of significantly refining their existing software to enhance usability before complicating the device further by introducing new cutting edge features before they are ready. Excited to see what is on the horizon? Below is a constantly evolving list of what we feel are the five most interesting smartwatches currently in development. Let us know which are your favorites!
1. Martian Notifier
#1 Favorite Smartwatch In Development – Martian Notifier
Although it only ranks #2 on our list of Top 5 Best Smartwatches, the Martian Victory is currently the watch that we wear everyday. That is why its soon-to-be released younger sibling, the Martian Notifier, sits atop our list of favorite smartwatches in development. The Victory is a sophisticated mechanical watch infused with cutting edge wearable smart tech … exactly what we want from a smartwatch. The 2nd generation Notifier expands upon this ideal by further refining the elegant look of the original and by focusing upon and enhancing the features that typical smartwatch aficionados use on a daily basis … alerts and notifications and voice commands that actually work. We have no desire to play Tetris on our wrist, we want a gorgeous mechanical/smart hybrid that seamlessly makes us more productive and efficient, not more bogged down by the technology it deploys. It looks as if Martian, again, has a winner on their hands with the Notifier. And, in Ferrari red, it is simply one of the best looking watches we’ve ever seen. We can’t wait to get the Martian Notifier in the door and put it through its paces … stay tuned for an upcoming in-depth review!
2. (Insert Name Here) by META
#2 Favorite Smartwatch In Development – MetaWatch Premium
We absolutely LOVE the new META Watch “Art of the Glance” design philosophy being integrated into their yet-to-be-named smartwatch. As defined in their recent video teaser, “Art of the glance is about being able to casually glance at your digital life without being consumed by it.” To develop this new vision, META engaged former Vertu luxury phone designer Frank Nuovo to use fashion to take the edge off their smartwatch technology … something their line desperately needed. In addition, META has chosen to focus upon further refining the basic functionality of their watches as opposed to cramming more half-baked features into the device like the rest of the industry. This path is unique among current wearable tech developers and we REALLY like it. Gives us a smartwatch that looks great and “just works” and you can have that highly coveted spot on our wrist at any price. The new META smartwatch appears to be taking a significant step toward making that dream a reality.
3. ConnecteDevice Cogito Original
#3 Favorite Smartwatch In Development – ConnecteDevice Cogito Original
We were big fans of the simplicity and overall look and feel of the original ConnecteDevice Cookoo. Although a solid first attempt, it was just a bit too simple and buggy to knock the other smartwatch contenders from our collective wrists. The ConnecteDevice Cogito Original addresses these issues by adding a digital display to provide caller ID and other pertinent alert data and by ironing out some of the bugs complained of in the first gen Cookoo. And, the Cogito watch accomplishes this feat while maintaining its uncluttered elegance and simple sophistication … it is just gorgeous with the stainless steel bezel. We are looking forward to taking this second generation model for a spin and seeing if it is indeed The One.
4. Neptune Pine
#4 Favorite Smartwatch In Development – Neptune Pine
The Neptune Pine is gargantuan and completely blurs the line between smartwatch and wrist-mounted computer. However, there is definitely a market for such all-encompassing wearable tech and the Pine just may knock Pebble out of its early lead. Another unique feature of the Pine is that it is actually, itself, a full fledged Android phone, thus obviating the need to keep a pocket-bound smartphone in tow. Sporting a 1.2Ghz dual-core SnapDragon processor, 32GB of memory, and a 5MP camera, the Neptune Pine is truly a stand-alone device thus enabling the wearer to somewhat lighten the digital load. However, we are anxious to find out whether the convenience and efficiency of having your complete digital life right on your wrist outweighs the intrusive bulk one must necessarily endure by donning a smartwatch of this magnitude. Only time will tell …
5. Razer Nabu Smartband
#5 Favorite Smartwatch In Development – Razer Nabu
The Razer Nabu Smartband is the best of a new breed of fitness bands no longer content with simply tracking physical activity. As such, it incorporates features traditionally found in smartwatches such as caller ID, message and alert notifications, and rudimentary information pulled from popular social apps. It is elegant, inconspicuous, and can exchange your social profile with a simple handshake. It blurs the line between activity tracker and smartwatch and will definitely find a home in the rapidly expanding smartwatch market, especially with the active crowd. It was difficult to categorize the Razer Nabu and we couldn’t decide whether to put it in our List of Favorite Upcoming Smartwatches or our List of Favorite Upcoming Activity Trackers … so we included it in both.
Would you like to see what else is available and what is currently in development? Mash the link and check out our ever-expanding comprehensive list to compare smartwatches.
Jon is the Editor-In-Chief at Wear Guide and writes about wearable technology On Your Arm. Jon has a M.S. in Computer Science, won several intercollegiate events as a member of the UCLA Cycling Team, and is currently active on the USA Triathlon circuit which provides him the opportunity to field-test wearables under grueling conditions. Jon also writes for our sister publication Electric.guide.
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