Your Guide to Buying a Smartwatch

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Trench_watch_1916_goldDo you wear a watch?

Chances are if you were born after 1980, you don’t.

According to a recent study, three out of every four people between the ages of 16 and 34 sport two naked wrists. And believe it or not, more than 30 percent of these millennials don’t even own a watch.

But all of that may change in the near future thanks to the smartwatch.

Simply defined, a smartwatch is a connected device you wear on your wrist that communicates with your smartphone. This device essentially allows you to glance at your wrist and see what you’d see on your phone: text messages, who’s calling, who posted a sweet status update on Facebook, etc.

Of course, a smartwatch keeps time, too.

The American smartwatch market commanded $700 million in 2013. What’s more, Gartner predicts that the market is on the brink of an explosion, due in large part to Apple’s unveiling of the soon-to-be released Apple Watch in September 2014.

When you think about it, it sort of makes sense: Millennials were reared on technology, so there’s a good chance more younger folk might start wearing watches. Well, once they’re infused with cutting-edge technology.

Are you thinking about getting a smartwatch? You wouldn’t be the only one. But before you decide to just go ahead and buy anything, you should consider your options. Here are three of the most popular ones:

Pebble_watch_trio_group_04Pebble. If you’re simply going for a distinctive look, you can grab a Pebble for $99. But if you’re going for a more distinctive look, the Pebble Steel could be yours for $199.

For the most part, the two watches are the same. But the higher-end model comes with either a metal or leather wristband while the regular Pebble comes with a polyurethane one. It also boasts a glass screen compared to the more affordable model’s plastic one.

With the Pebble, you won’t have to worry about where your phone is. Instead, you’ll be able to see who’s calling or texting you by glancing at your wrist.

You also won’t have to worry about battery life: Pebble claims your watch will stay active for seven days, so charge it once and go live your life—you know, for awhile. The watch is also water resistant, so by all means feel free to hop in the shower if you’re so obliged.

The Steel is a little sexier by design. But either version can be customized to your liking, as you’re able to add the apps of your choosing to both Pebbles.

Pebble’s gained a lot of steam since it raised over $10 million on Kickstarter in 2012. And recently, the company announced plans to support a host of new languages. There’s a reason some say that Pebble makes the best smartwatch on the market.

Gallery-09CooKoo. Like Pebble, CooKoo was crowdfunded on Kickstarter. But CooKoo didn’t raise nearly as much money, pulling in just north of $300,000.

The company says that unlike other smartwatches, the CooKoo doesn’t need to be recharged. They’re right: The battery lasts for an entire year. (You’ll have to replace it after 12 months.)

This device is designed in the guise of traditional watches, so those in the know say that it lacks all the super cool techy stuff found in other smartwatches. Still, it notifies you of calls, texts and Facebook posts, and it lets you know when it’s time to charge your phone.

White_AppleWatch_with_Screen

Apple Watch. If you think about it, Apple doesn’t really innovate. Instead, the company thrives on understanding what the masses want, and then produces the best product to satiate that need.

At the time it was released, the iPod wasn’t the first mp3 player, but it was the best one. At the time it was released, the iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone, but it was the best one. At the time it was released, the iPad wasn’t the first tablet, but it was the best one.

See the pattern?

The company is set to release its interpretation of the smartwatch—surprisingly not the iWatch, but rather the Apple Watch—sometime in 2015. Ever since the product was announced, it’s been assumed that Apple will once again prove to have perfected the device that everyone’s talking about.

It appears as though in addition to the tech functionality we can assume that’s built into the device—for starters, the watch, which already monitors your heart rate, will ostensibly double as a virtual hotel room key, among many other things—Apple is pressing hard to create something that’s remarkably fashionable, too.

Like Apple products, the smartwatch is a little pricey: Basic models of the Apple Watch will start at $349. And believe it or not, some suggest the company’s highest model could carry a price tag hovering near $5,000.

Different people will be fans of different watches. If you’re looking to enjoy the functionality of a smartwatch without breaking the bank, the Pebble might be just what the doctor ordered.

Then again, if you’re an Apple fanboy with money burning holes in your pockets, you might be better off waiting a few months to fork over however much you want to spend on an Apple Watch. But remember, Apple’s product is only compatible with an iPhone, so you’ll need one of those, too.

What’s your take on smartwatches? Is there a brand you’d recommend? If you’ve got the time to weigh in (rimshot?), please do.

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