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Should you splurge on a smartwatch?

April 14, 2015

Sometimes it feels impossible to keep up with the speed of technology. Electronic devices and Web-based products evolve quickly as updated models consistently replace yesterdays new releases.

Since smartphones hit the market in the mid- to late-2000s, theres been a growing trend of people young and old adopting smart technology. From automated homes to self-parking cars, the tech sector is booming with devices that have intriguing and futuristic features. One fad thats been slowly gaining steam is the smartwatch. Apple has been talking up its version for months, while smaller companies have already released high-tech timepiece products.

Now that Apple has announced the Apple Watch release date - April 24, 2015 - its time to determine if these gadgets are worth your money. Check out these pros and cons of the latest and greatest in technology - smartwatches.

Heres an example of this wearable tech trend.

Features and specs
This new device from Apple syncs up with your iPhone to make some actions easier. The smartwatch allows you to answer and make calls, read messages, check your email and review your calendar appointments - all from your wrist. The ability to do so much without taking your phone out is convenient and keeps your hands free for whatever else you may be engaging in. In previous Apple press conferences about the upcoming technology, there was talk of these watches being capable of advanced health-related tasks, such as glucose trackers and blood pressure monitors. Unfortunately, those havent come into fruition for the first edition.

​While the Apple Watch doesnt have as many health functions as anticipated, one feature is more beneficial than you might think. The watch has a haptic sensor that notifies you when youve been sitting too long with a small vibrate. It has three movements that it keeps track of: moving, exercising and standing. Moving describes walking around while conducting daily business, and exercise includes activities that get your heart rate higher. The time spent doing each is displayed on the watch face with the goal of completing all three rings throughout the day. Although people often think they have to get on the treadmill or hit the gym to improve their fitness and health, studies show its most important to sit less frequently. Research from the University Health Network found that decreasing how long youre sedentary can reduce risk of several common health issues such as cancer and heart disease. 

"It has a haptic sensor that notifies you when youve been sitting too long."

Alternate options 
The Apple Watch is without argument a nifty device, but its important to consider if its a practical purchase for you.

Senior Planet discussed a few of the obvious downsides of the smartwatch. The gadget has to be synced with an iPhone, so youll already have access to the same call, message and other features from your phone. It has to be charged daily and the display is quite small, especially compared to the new iPhone 6. 

If you want a smartwatch but the Apple Watch isnt for you, check out this gadget reviewed by Entrepreneur magazine. The Burg 31 costs less than $150 and is specifically geared toward kids and seniors. This is because the Burg 31 doesnt need to be synched with any other devices, so its perfect for people who might not have smartphones. Theres a way to link your watch to your smartphone with Bluetooth if that interests you, but the Burg 31 has its own SIM card.

The Burg 31 has a one-touch emergency call feature, two days of battery life and GPS tracking. Theres also a music function so you can put your favorite songs or an audio book on your watch for easy listening. The Burg 31 doesnt have the ability to browse the Web. However, you can personalize your smartwatch with different colors and styles.