It's hard for many smartphone users to imagine life without smartphones; nearly all of them look and work rather similarly these days. Smartwatches, however, are still in their early days and rapidly evolving in terms of their designs and capabilities. We've seen designs that include minimalist notification bands, skin-sensing kid trackers and watches that project time and texts on the back of your hand.
And there are plenty of ways they can help with business--everything from reminders of important meetings to quick captures of potential merchandise to apps that can recommend nearby restaurants for power lunches. However, which smartwatch one adopts may vary significantly depending on what tradeoffs one is willing to make in terms of fashion versus function.
The fashionable glancer. For some, the most basic premise of a smartwatch, a device to notify you of pertinent messages when your phone is tucked away, is all they want. For those who mostly want to stick to the basics with a traditional watch face, the Martian Notifier may have you covered. It's an evolution of the pricier Martian Passport.
The outdoorsy pragmatist. Many smartwatch users, though, want a bit more from their smartwatch, such as the ability to use apps. For them and many others, the Pebble Steel represents an ideal compromise. Its square e-ink display lacks color, but holds up well in sunlight and allows for several days of battery life. Pebble has attracted a respectable library of simple apps that can be installed from either an iPhone or Android device.
The integrated geek. The most advanced watches currently aimed at the mainstream, Android Wear watches offer tight integration with Android smartphones and Google Now, the company's voice-driven, context-driven agent. Several models are available, including the round-faced Moto360 and LG G Watch R. The price you'll pay for their colorful screens, though, is lackluster battery life that may not last through the day.
The Apple anticipator. If you're content to count down the last seconds of 2014 on an iPhone, you may want to hold out for the Apple Watch. Slated to have pricing start well above many alternatives at $349, what the company calls its most personal device ever will come in a range of styles (including a smaller model many women may prefer) and a host of bands that connect easily to the timepiece. The device's digital crown acts as a user interface device to zoom into apps and scroll and it will support Apple's Siri voice agent as well as offer quick access to contacts and health information. Battery life should also be about a day, though. Apple says the watch will appear in early 2015 with much speculation that that will mean the spring.