Is It Time For Smart Watches?

Looking for the next big thing? More than five million smart watches are forecast to ship this year, according to the research firm Canalys. So you’re likely to see these new accessories on a lot of wrists.

Consumer Reports just checked out a batch — from big names like Samsung and Sony along with smaller startups — to see if they’re worth your time.

The next big thing may be right up your sleeve — smart watches.

Consumer Reports checked out six. All connect wirelessly to your phone or tablet and run loads of apps. You can monitor fitness … or control the music on your phone.

They also notify you when calls, texts and instant messages come in.

Carol Magnis of Consumer Reports says, “It’s really handy to get the notifications and alerts on your watch, but with most of them if you want to make or take a call, you have to pull your phone out to do that.”

Samsung’s Galaxy Gear is the only watch tested that can actually make a call.

Two new Gear watches just being introduced can also handle calls.

Mangis said, “The Samsung Galaxy Gear watch really stood out to us. It has a lot of nice features including a camera.”

You can snap a picture with a tap.

But Samsung watches only work with Samsung phones. Other smart watches pair with any Android phone — but check the specs if you have an iPhone.

The easiest watches pair with a simple tap.

Those have N-F-C or “near-field communication.”

Other issues: testers found some watches hard to read in bright sunlight. And some are tricky to navigate.

“The more basic watches don’t have a touch screen, so you have to navigate your way through their menus using button presses. It’s easier to navigate with the more advanced watches. They do have touch screens, and you can go through the menu just using taps and swipes.” Mangis said.

So should you buy a smart watch? Consumer Reports says you might want to wait until prices come down. These watches run from 150 up to 300 dollars.

Expect more smart watches to come on the market. And more big names to join in. Google recently announced an operating system for smart watches and other wearable devices. And Apple has reportedly been working on a smart watch of its own.

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