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Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Suunto N3 Review, Further Thoughts

Suunto N3 Review, Further Thoughts

I have now been wearing the Suunto N3 Spot watch for the past two weeks. The impressions that I had after one week, in my earlier review, have only solidified during this my second week of wearing the watch. I have however discovered unfortunately that the copper ring around the watch will scratch if you hit it against something which is hard. Yesterday morning I bumped the watch on a doorway, which caused a hairline scratch on the copper ring, which serves as the watches’ antenna. The scratch thankfully is small and is only visible upon a close up inspection of the copper ring. It seems to me however that a sports type watch should be more scratch resistant. I did not hit the doorway very hard.

I have read every review that I could find online for the Suunto and the Fossil Spot watches. I have been frustrated by some of the critical reviews that I have read. I have read two reviews by writers who do not regularly wear watches. Of what value is the opinion of someone reviewing a device from a category of devices they do not regularly use? Every reviewer must have a point of reference by which they compare and judge a device. A reviewer, who does not where a watch regularly, has for some reason failed to find such a device useful. Is this the person whom I want to write a review of a watch I might buy? I think not. Such a reviewer is in the minority among most of the world’s white collar workers who are the market for this product. You really have to wear watches regularly to review a unique new category of watches. We must demand higher standards from publications which can have a large impact on a company’s bottom line.

The criticisms, I have read of the chronograph feature in this forum; however are a totally different matter. Though I have had chronographs on a number of watches I have owned in the past I have never used this feature. I am therefore not qualified to comment on the quality of the Suunto N3’s chronograph. I tried to uses this feature just because it was there, and because I was reviewing this watch. I however could not make heads or tails of much of its operation. I could not follow the instructions in the manual. I read the very useful comments, regarding this feature, on the Spot Stop forum from Inspector Gadget. They helped some but I still had difficulty with this feature. Eventually I simply gave up.

I have read complaints that this watch interferes with the wearing of a dress shirt. I have personally had no such problems wearing dress shirts with this device. My shirt cuffs easily clear the face of this watch. There have been other criticisms of the news tidbits the watch delivers. I have no problem with the short news stories that MSN Direct sends to my watch. I keep up with news from around the world through various RSS news feeds which I monitor daily. The news feature on the watch keeps me up to date with new news stories and updates some continuing stories. Occasionally the short tidbits do not make much sense but if you push in the center right button you usually can get the gist of what the story is about. You cannot expect a watch to give you much more news than this. You have to spend the time to read the news online, listen to a radio source like National Public Radio or god forbid read a newspaper to get your news information. I get full stories either through RSS feeds on my Newsgator Web page on my computer or through National Public Radio (N.P.R.).

I believe that it is important to understand the limits of spot technology. One must put this technology into perspective. It is, in many ways, a descendent of the push technology of the middle and late nineties when desktop programs like Point Cast News and more recently the USA News, Yahoo and the BBC News ticker brought headline news to your desk top and/or screen saver. These programs simply provided headlines which if you clicked on them brought you to a web page where you could read the whole story. I have been using the BBC News ticker since the demise of the USA Today News Ticker last year. MSN Direct offers the whole Story, in the same way, on its website. All you have to do is go to your News Channel and click on “View Latest News” link. If you are not interested in news and current events this type of technology simply is not for you. This brings me to my biggest beef with some of the reviews I have read. I strongly believe that reviewers should only review product categories that they have an interest and in their reviews they should disclose their interests, prejudices and natural predispositions. I would hate to see this technology fail to reach a large market due to so many negative reviews by people who do not have an interest in or see the benefit of a technology centered on the one way receipt of news and information via a watch. In closing this technology is not for politically apathetic generation “x” technology geeks who enjoy spending most of their leisure their time playing computer games. This technology is for the person who is engaged in current events, politics, technology and other information being disseminated in the current information age. This is a first generation product. It can only get better. It may not get a chance with so many negative reviews. I simply hope the word gets out to people who can appreciate this technology. Please provide me with your comments on the views expressed herein.

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