Wearable tech has well and truly shrugged off the passing fad label. According to Mnet, IPG’s specialist mobile agency, nearly 50 per cent of Australians aged between 18 and 64 have used a wearable device and a similar percentage intend to buy one over the next few months.
The Apple Watch ignited the smartwatch category and the competition has become fierce, including TAG Heuer’s Connected Carrera. Fitness trackers and smartwatches compete for the same territory on your wrist, but many of the leading players have been going for the middle ground.
Fitbit’s ambitions stretch far beyond providing a workout companion for professionals with the Blaze, which launched in Australia in March. The Blaze includes the call and calendar alerts and text notifications of a smartwatch and the activity tech of a fitness tracker, incorporating key features from the brand’s popular Surge. Improved heart-rate technology and an on-screen workout system delivered through the FitStar Personal Trainer are major pulls.
Garmin’s Vivoactive (from $359) is viewed as the brand’s first “real” smartwatch. The large square face offers full notifications to your wrist and supremely accurate GPS-sports tracking for running, swimming, cycling, golf and more. It really is the top buy for true sportsman.
Also just released by Garmin, the Fenix 3 ($779) is also a manly-looking timepiece. The latest in heart-rate technology is the standout inclusion and the coloured screen adds rugged appeal.
Following harsh criticism of the original Microsoft Band, the global giant has had a major re-think. The Microsoft Band 2 ($379) is positioned more as a smartwatch even though it looks like a bracelet with a stylish black design and AMOLED full-colour curved display. With a similar price to the Fitbit Surge ($379), it teams with a range of iPhone, Android and Windows phones, providing email previews, Facebook Messenger updates and calendar reminders. You can even text replies.
The Sony SmartWatch 3 ($399) looks seriously corporate. There’s no need to stow your smartphone in your shorts when you go for a run because of the superior GPS connectivity. The latest Android Wear update allows you to jog to your own playlist with wireless headphones.
TAG Heuer’s Carrera Connected doesn’t include activity tracking but the brand considers it to be “a step into the future”. On sale first in the US in November, the A$2000-plus model looks Swiss to the hilt and will roll out around the world in the first few months of the year with global online sales starting in May or June.
The Carrera Connected is already a success says TAG Heuer, who have upped production from 1200 to 2000 a week. There are seven colour choices with a hefty 46mm dial, an Intel processor, 4GB of internal memory, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The launch models are only the start. TAG Heuer are already crafting a collection of different executions and materials to be released at the end of the year or in early 2017, including gold versions and diamonds set in the round.
The future looks even more dazzling for connected fitness trackers and smartwatch hybrids. According to market researcher NPD, an estimated 33 million fitness trackers are strapped to wrists worldwide, with FitBit accounting for 79 per cent of global sales. In an odd twist, consumer awareness about smartwatches is eight per cent higher than fitness trackers in spite of lower sales. But those lines will blur as more and more second generation devices hit the market, adding tens of millions more connected fitness trackers-cum-smartwatches to our lives by 2017. Truly, it’s time to measure up.
The future looks even more dazzling for connected fitness trackers and smartwatch hybrids.
TAG Heuer Carrera Connected
Garmin Fenix 3