Thoughts on Smartwatch ownership several months in

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

TL;DR – slow news day, and too much commentary on the above Hitchhiker’s Guide quote.

So I’ve had the Fitbit Sense for 5ish months now, and more recently the Withings Scanwatch. While I’m still reserving judgement on the Sense as I’m having wildly inconsistent experience, started thinking about them today. There’s also nothing but Pixel news and social media stuff out there this morning and otherwise uninteresting.

For me a lot of this is about data and not so much feature set of the watch. I find things like EDA scan and HRV to not particularly relate to how I am feeling or performing at any given time. SPo2, heart rate, the occasional ECG to tell me I’m not having a heart attack probably, being able to GPS my workout so I know within a few feet how far I walked, that data’s my motivation.

I’ve been wearing smart watches about full time since I got the Sense in an attempt to see if it does anything for me and have determined that for things other than exercise I have next to no interest in their function. Need a calendar? Got my phone. Need a watch? Got my phone. Want to play a game? Got my phone and that screen is microscopic. Do I want to take a call on my wrist? No, I don’t even want to take a call on my phone. Do I want to get text messages on my wrist? Surprisingly yes, just to know whether to get my phone out or ignore “you selling your house?” texts.

The idea behind buzzing your wrist as a reminder to move is interesting. I’m not exactly sure how useful it is though because when I’m at my desk not moving, it’s because I’m stuck at my desk not moving. The logic on the Sense is also maddening because I can just finish a 3-mile hike, get into the car, and my wrist will shake and a reminder to move will pop up. Like seriously watch dude…

Other than a small display I have found little to no use for graphics on a watch, which I think the Scanwatch taught me.

I’ve had a few interactions with Fitbit support lately (charging cable issue,) and have a chat from them as well as my own observations that as long as the device is on the correct arm you can wear it palm or knuckle side and it shouldn’t affect the readings any.

Oh, so on the Hitchhiker’s Guide: I thought initially the above quote would be a fun inclusion and let me tell you the rabbit hole I went down here. There’re two versions of the quote on the internet involving the planet being ninety two or ninety eight million miles from the sun. While the actual distance is about 93 million miles away, the top returned quote sites on the net lists it as 92 million miles.

What – something’s wrong on the internet?

So checking with the Pocketables fact checkers, we got the original radio scripts and first edition, Ultimate edition from 1997 and the Gaiman- prefaced editions (2002 ) and it’s ninety-eight. I just realized I’m 48 and have people who can fact check Hitchhiker’s Guide data for me. This is froody.

98 (first edition)
98 (later edition)
98 (2002 ultimate edition)

I mean in reality it’s about 93 million miles away as we know from Why Does the Sun Shine?

I wonder where the 92 came from.

Back to watches – I’m struggling to find any features that most of the mid to top end watches do at this point that are particularly worth more. Upcoming we’ve got some interesting things with blood pressure monitoring watches that do not use cuff technology, but that tech still isn’t out there. When it is I’m going to say jump on it.

As a note, when I say it’s not out there I mean it’s not out there yet – it’s been invented, certified accuracy, that you can indeed test blood pressure using light and not squeeze, and will be out in every smart watch out there next year. I would actually really like that feature in a watch. I’ve had moderate to high blood pressure since I was a skinny kid and would like to be monitoring that more closely now that I’m a not skinny adult.

So yeah, most of the features of my high-end Sense I’m not using or don’t feel they apply particularly well to my actual feelings and circumstance. Other people’s experience will vary. I’m also seriously wondering where the closer-to-correct but not in any book I can find 92 million miles came from.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts