My love / hate relationship with wearables

Last Christmas, I got a Fitbit as a gift.

This Christmas, I got an email saying that my 4th Fitbit has shipped.

The devices were great and the customer support was excellent, but the devices were just fragile.

That pretty much sums up my experience with wearables in 2015: I use them all the time and they break all the time.

This seems like a common experience with low-end wearables:

  • A family member went to BestBuy and got a Jawbone for $100. The BestBuy associate told her: “Please spend $10 on the warranty. It will break quickly and you’ll be back here asking for a replacement.” Indeed, she was back in 2 months after it fell apart.
  • I play soccer and my teammates are always testing out wearables: Garmin, Samsung, Pebble, Wahoo etc. They all break within a few months.

Maybe we’re just expecting too much. It’s a huge task to produce a reliable, comfortable fitness tracker with great battery life for only $100 to $150.

The only devices that seem to last at those in the $400 to $500 price range. My friend has a $400 Garmin that still works great after 2 years. Apple Watches seem to have few durability problems.

Overall, I can imagine wearing a smart watch / fitness tracker for years to come, but right now you’ve got two choices:

  • Spend $100 to $150 and make sure you buy the warranty.
  • Spend $400 and $500 on watch that might be obsolete next year.

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