Get a smartwatch, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. It’s not like I’m not already monitoring several devices, screens and websites on a daily basis, now I have to get something that I can check so I know whether I have to check my phone?
Actually, yes, that’s about the size of it. Smartwatches are coming and there’s nothing any of us can do about it except get hold of one, learn how it works and embrace it. Because one day that smartwatch will completely replace your smartphone, perhaps with a bone-conduction speaker/microphone implant in your skull as well as a retinal augmentation as part of the whole futuristic package. Remember this review when that day dawns – I called it.
For now it’s just smartwatches, with varying degrees of smartness to be had. One of these is the Cogito Classic, a basic smartwatch that spends less time on the ‘smart’ and a lot more time on the ‘watch’.
Hiding In Plain Sight
The Cogito Classic looks and feels a heck of a lot more like your everyday wristwatch than an addition to your smartphone. It’s quite chunky, with a weight to it that lets you know it’s still on your wrist. I’ve worn heavier watches that do nothing more than tell the time and scratch the paint off anything my arm brushes past so this isn’t too bad. The size to accommodate the battery that it uses as well as the brainbox – the good news is that you don’t have to charge it. It uses standard watch batteries and should keep going for at least a year. Possibly longer but I don’t have that long to wait for this review.
There are standard watch hour and minute hands on the face, which can be set manually using the middle stem on the Cogito’s right-hand side. The time is also shown digitally, on the LCD backing panel that also shows notification icons as well as the contents of messages. This is tucked away behind scratch-resistant glass. There are another four buttons around the edge and three of these can have their functions set by the user. The fourth is used to control the music on your phone. The whole thing is held on your wrist with a silicone strap, though there’s a leather or fabric option available as well. Oh yeah, and it’s pretty water-resistant as well – up to 10 metres.
Showing Your Stuff
The Cogito is able to display notifications from social media, messaging apps like Hangouts, emails, calls, events and a few other bits and piece but most of these will take the form of an icon lighting up on the watch face’s LCD screen. Assuming you’re inside, it’s close to invisible in direct sunlight. Short bits of message can be viewed in the area where the digital time is displayed but you’re going to want to check your phone whenever the Classic bleeps. So, yeah, it’s very, very basic as far as smartwatch functions go. If you’re looking for something more advanced, the Apple Watch or anything supporting Android Wear is the way to go.
A software update adds basic activity tracker functions but, while it tracks steps, calories and distance, as well as your activity level more or less accurately, I’ve got a problem with it. Users have to register their details through the app before the function can even be turned on. That’s… not unexpected but couldn’t we at least try the activity tracker first?
The tracker also puts the Cogito into power-saving mode. The cost of having the fitness tracking functions is possibly draining your battery faster but at least you won’t have to worry about it for a few months either way. It’s better than a FitBit in that regard, though the Connected Watch app isn’t nearly as full-featured.
For this review, the Cogito Classic was connected to an HTC One M9 and I have to say: The connection between phone and watch could be better. It’ll hum along without a fault for a while and then randomly disconnect. It’ll eventually reconnect, the same way it does when you wander out of range of your phone (yeah, who does that these days) and then come back but it’s an annoying fault.
The Cogito is also going to be difficult to find a compatible phone for, unless you’re an iPhone user. Sure, the main suspects from Samsung, LG, Motorola, Huawei and HTC are supported but if you’re using anything other than the roster listed, you are going to be outright unable to download the Android app. Heading over to the Connected Watch website to check out compatibility first is a plan.
If you’re looking at a basic smartwatch, then the Cogito Classic has enough battery life and simple features to get you into the swing of things without becoming overwhelming. If you’re after something more advanced then there are much better uses that you can put your R2,500 – the rough cost of this wristwear – to. You’re not going to be buying an Apple Watch with this sort of money, obviously, but you’ll be able to pick up something a bit fuller-featured that will sync with your phone. And if you’re looking at the Cogito for its fitness features, let me direct you over to FitBit’s Charge HR instead.