Timex Internet Watch Pushes Buttons
With the new Timex Internet Messenger watch, you can receive news headlines whenever you want, wherever you are.
Sounds cool, until you start receiving the headlines. That's when you might decide that any news reducible to a wristwatch-sized factoid probably isn't worth reading anyway.
But more about that later. The Internet Messenger is the latest model in a decade-old parade, from various manufacturers, of watches that double as pagers. It's at the pioneering edge of no-hassle mobile communication: If the information you're getting isn't literally at your fingertips, it's darn close.
Just Watch Me
Featuring service from the national carrier SkyTel, the Internet Messenger allows for a number of different paging options. It's a numeric pager that delivers to your wrist the phone number or numeric message of people who call your pager number and punch it in. A few moments later, your watch starts beeping or vibrating silently (your choice); push a button and the phone number starts scrolling across the bottom of the watch's liquid crystal display.The Internet Messenger can deliver text messages to the pager as well, sent to a special email address or entered onto a form at SkyTel's Web site. If you're willing to pay more, people can send you text pages by calling a SkyTel operator and dictating a message to be sent. This text-messaging feature is what enables the news headlines as well. By the way, the watch also tells time. It shares the features of a lot of digital watches: multiple alarms, a stopwatch with an eight-lap memory and a countdown timer. The price for the watch is $99, but that's just for the hardware and a brief free trial. The paging service costs extra; exactly how much extra depends on what you sign up for and what type of deal SkyTel might be running. Metro area text service, for example, costs $20 for signup and $9.99 a month, with 500 messages of up to 100 characters included. Messages dictated to an operator cost 65 cents per 80-character block. Is it worth it? As with all cool gadgets, the answer is, of course not. Your money's better spent on clothing, food and shelter. But assuming you've got some disposable income, let's try to work out the pluses and minuses.
On the Same PagerAbout the only reason to merge a wristwatch and a pager is to minimize the electronics you carry around with you. In that case, using the watch as a numeric pager (service starting at $4.99 a month) seems pointless because you'll still need to carry a phone to learn what your caller wants to tell you. But for receiving brief text messages, it's fine. You'd probably want the operator dictation option, though, unless you're sure the people paging you have ready access to a computer.
|At a Glance
|Product||Timex Internet Messenger Watch|
|Price||$99, plus paging signup and service fees|
|Verdict||Not pretty, but cool, if you can figure out a use for it|
|For More Info||www.timex.com, www.skytel.com, mobile.yahoo.com|
Mr. CrummlesBut if you're not a rabid fan of sports, auctions or high-speed chases, the message service is an amusing disappointment. Once I signed up for morning business news, the alert I received one day was "INVESTORS SNAP UP STOCKS, BONDS." Whoa. Thank goodness I didn't miss that one. Time to call a broker. More unintended humor came with the morning weather roundup the day before Thanksgiving. According to my watch, there would be exactly the same weather -- 66 degrees and partly cloudy -- in 10 different cities around the U.S., ranging from Denver to Boston and from New Orleans to Minneapolis. In seven other cities, including Dallas and Detroit, it would be sunny and 85. The real outlier was Seattle, where there would be both sleet and a temperature of 87. I don't know how you're supposed to dress for that.
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