Smartwatches: So much futuristicness promised, so little delivered. They're clunky. They're frustrating. They're just not quite there yet. But what if there was a smartwatch out there that was just plain fun to use? There is — it just happens to be built for four-to-nine-year-olds.
Yes, in the interest of science, reader service, and the dogged exploration of the furthest fringes of intended audiences, I, a 28-year-old, strapped VTech's Kidizoom smartwatch to my wrist to see how the shorter half lives. Truth be told, it was a lot of fun.
Let's get one thing out of the way first and foremost: The Kidizoom watch is really stretching the definition of "smartwatch." Sure, it has a 128 x 128 pixel touchscreen, downloadable apps, and a photo/video camera. But you're not gonna check emails or Google directions on this thing, nor will it track your calories burned.
Call me a luddite, but with the state of technology right now, I just don't see the appeal in doing any of those things from your wrist. You're already carrying an astoundingly powerful computer in your pocket or purse at any given moment of the day — one that's built to be operated by human-size fingers and legibly read by human-scale eyeballs.
That's why the Kidizoom worked so well on my wrist (and yes, the fact that a smartwatch aimed at four-year-olds fits on my wrist tells you why I never wear grown-up watches). It's not trying to be a hideously shrunken smartphone. It's not trying to solve the apparently crippling problem of having to pull your phone out to check your emails. It's just a watch with some games and a built-in camera that takes perfectly passable 640 x 480 photos. It even shoots video.
And lest you think this is simply a toy, the Kidizoom smartwatch has a voice memo feature. You can record notes to yourself for things like grocery lists, work projects, appointments, whatever — and then play them back in a robot voice. Who doesn't need a little fun in their daily reminders?
I embarked on this test as a goof — LOL, grown up dude wears a rubberised toy watch, what a lark! I figured it would have so many limitations, the jokes would write themselves.
I didn't expect that I would actually enjoy wearing the Kidizoom. It did everything I expect a watch to do (namely, tell time), and nothing that a wrist-worn piece of technology has no right to do. It didn't pester me with notifications; it didn't require nightly charging; it didn't try to contort important information down into a Chiclet-sized screen.
In short, it was the perfect watch. And that's just smart.