Saturday, April 11, 2015

How to justify an Apple Watch purchase

I'm a watch wearer. I have a nice electromechanical watch which my wife gave me. It keeps time well, it shows me the time, the day of the week and the day of the month. It harvests energy from movements of my wrist and in the time I've owned the watch it's never run down. It has a nice enough dial, it is a little thicker than I'd like - it doesn't slip under shirt-sleeve cuffs as easily as it might, but all in all I'm very happy with it. I wear it from when I put it on in the morning until when I take it off at night - and it comes off when I'm bathing, exercising in the gym, or swimming. At night it sits on my bedside table.

I have an iPhone (5S). I have it on or about me most of the time. At night it sits next to my bed charging. I use the phone for the usual things, checking the news, sending and receiving messages, tracking my travel and my fitness, listening to podcasts and music. It would be better if the screen were larger, the size were smaller and the battery lasted better (yes, I see the conflict). Overall I'm pretty pleased with the phone.

I don't have a (working) heart monitor, nor a "fitness device" like a FitBit. I used to use a heart rate monitor when I started out doing exercise (mountain biking and going to the gym). I found it useful - it helped me learn to pace myself when biking. At one time I was using a gps to track my biking route; when I got home I'd correlate the route with the record from the heart-rate monitor, a laborious process at the time. I'd like to get a heart rate monitor which interfaced to my phone properly.

The phone tracks movement quite well. The problem is that I don't have the phone on my person when I exercise in the gym. It's with me so I can listen to whatever (worthy podcasts) while I exercise, but I don't wear it. As a result, the phone thinks I'm immobile while I'm pounding the treadmill, rowing, cycling, or whatever. I keep track of the time and "calories" that the gym machine report and dutifully record them in MapMyRide. However, this experience could be improved. It would be great not to have to take the phone with me into the gym, it would be great to have all the recording done for me, and it would be good to have my heart rate recorded.

Clearly an £8,000 Rose Gold Apple Watch Edition (with sports band - off course) is just what I need.... or perhaps not. But a £300 aluminium Sports Watch (38mm) just might be. Or maybe it should be the 42mm. And which strap? So off to the Apple store to find out. There seems to be a lot of interest in making try-on appointments, the Apple Concierge website crawled up and down (not as badly as did the Kate Bush pre-order website), and I eventually ended up with an appointment at 9:15am. 

I rolled up just after nine, was greeted on my way in, introduced to the guy who would show me the watch. The Apple store had a couple of tables devoted to the watch. One was a show case partly populated with an assortment of watches including a few Editions. The other was used used for the try-ons; it has a number of drawers under the table top, unlocked by the demonstrators' check-out device. I told my Apple guy that I was interested in the Sport model, I wasn't sure which size watch I wanted, and I'd like to see both the black and white straps. "No problem!" except there was; he couldn't open the drawer and had to seek a colleague's help. I tried on a 38mm white and a 42mm black. The rubber straps felt great and comfortable, nice and warm. Even though I'm sure that white (Ive-ory?) is the preferred colour, I think white always looks discoloured (an effect of ageing?) and so avoid it if possible. I must say that the white looks pretty good but it isn't discrete, so black it is for me; if I wanted my watch to stand out I'd go for pink or green. Then to size. The 42mm is about the same size, maybe slightly larger than my current watch, the 38mm seemed better. So, decision made, if I get a watch it will be the 38mm space grey aluminium with black rubber strap. "Can I take a look at the stainless steel ones as well?"; "Sure". The straps are great, really nicely engineered. The Milanese Loop is gorgeous, the Link Bracelet very butch and the Modern Buckle wonderful.

Function? Good question. The try-ons were running a demo loop; I can understand why display models should run the loop, but the try-ons would be better if they were running the actual watch software. With the loop I couldn't tell how well the display auto-on worked, nor could I really tell how good the watch faces looked on my wrist, nor could I really tell how easy the device was to operate on the wrist. There were some mounted watches running the standard software which I used. The force-touch seems easy to use, the digital crown might be a bit fiddly but I expect that with practice it gets to be easy. The display is very bright, there is some control available, I suspect I'll want the brightness down and the colours muted a little. The watch faces looked good; the home screen flowed really well, but one or two other things seemed a bit slow. I don't think it's possible to get a feel for how well a complex device like this works until you've lived with it - it wasn't obviously broken.

After my try-on I took a look at the display case. The Rose Gold looks good! So do the bright sports straps - perhaps I should get one as an accessory if I buy a watch?

And the if? I decided to order but shipping wasn't until June. So I didn't; I wanted instant gratification. But I placed an order that afternoon.

Finally - the new MacBook. There weren't any in the store. 

1 comment:

Ian Phillips said...

"We can rebuild him. We have the technology!" Time to get a grip of yourself Roger; Life is for living, not for monitoring. ;-)

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