I’ve changed…watches. Fitbit Versa
The problem that I’ve always had keeping a log, journal, blog, whatever, is just deciding what, if anything, makes a difference in my life and then trying to figure out what kind of difference it makes. Is it blog-worthy. My life, in general, goes from day to day with unremarkably little changing. Some weeks, the biggest news to share is the bumper-sticked Chevy Bolt that I got behind on Thursday. Not that I did get behind one on Thursday or any other day. I would have blogged about it. It was just an example. But occasionally I do make a change. This past weekend, I changed watches.
I had been wearing a Asus ZenWatch (first generation) since they came on the market three years ago. It’s main appeal was that it prevented me from pulling my phone out for every notification of an incoming email, text, news story, etc. I’d gone so far as to purchase ($5 donation-ware) an app to apply different watchfaces. It’s battery-life could only be termed as ‘daily’. And it’s usefulness was unexceptionally adequate. But that was three years ago. Since then, the OS has moved on and programmers have attempted to keep it in the loop. That process of trying to keep an item relevant always results in slowing down the core features and overwhelming the processor. Since its last update this year, I’ve been seeing “Androidware has stopped working. Close?”. A condition whose expected response is either ‘wait’ or ‘OK’. Neither of which altogether fix the problems like a good old-fashioned reboot does. Also, the screen has taken on a pinkish hue instead of gray. Places on the screen where numbers had appeared for years now has numbers ghosting in where there are no numbers. I decided that it was time. (Was that a pun?)
I had thought that I would be replacing it with a TicWatch-E. It features WearOS 2. It gets great reviews. All my programs would work on it. It is a well-rounded replacement to my ZenWatch in every respect. But, it’s, well, round. I just don’t find round watches to be appealing. In our rectilinear world of screens, round has no advantage at all. For a mechanical world of gears and cogs, springs and spinning dials, round is efficient. But in a world with block print and rectangular screens, it just feels archaic. So when I read about the Fitbit Versa, a square lump of a fitness monitor with WearOS-like features, I was dubious. But the more I read, the more interested I became.
First off, Fitbits are reliant on the Fitbit app on your phone to do the majority of communicating. But that’s how it should be. The Fitbit app sees every notify-enabled app on the phone and you get to choose which ones will be sent to your wrist. Second, the Fitbit is not tied to the phone. Without the phone, the Fitbit still counts steps, monitors your heart-rate, plays music and, of course, tells time. The first step after booting my ZenWatch for the first time was to pair it with a phone. The Fitbit did the same thing. In truth, there’s very little difference between how I intend to use my Fitbit and in how I have been using my ZenWatch. So when in my research, the only knock against the Versa was that there were a lot of complaints about the battery life, I didn’t think it that much of a problem. I’ve had mine for a week. I charged it for an hour to full on Sunday afternoon and again on Thursday evening. Coming from a watch that had to be put in its cradle every night and took five hours to charge, that’s a vast improvement. Plus, it’s also only about two thirds as big and about half as heavy as my ZenWatch.
To be fair, my ZenWatch also works as a fitness coach with the ZenFit app. It does step counting…poorly. I can’t rely on it to keep an accurate count with grossly exaggerating the swinging of my arms. And it has a heart-rate monitor. Which I was never able to figure out how and where to place my fingers to get an accurate measure. (Instead of using an LED, it relies on a time differential between the pulsing of two fingers). But the fitness aspect was always secondary. The Fitbit Versa feels more like a stand-alone device that partners with your phone. The ZenWatch always felt like a phone accessory.
The only feature of the Fitbit that I’ve added to my universe is the sleep monitor. Since it has no need to be charged every night, I’m able to wear it and have it monitor my heart-rate in my sleep. It guesses that when my heart slows down, I’m in deep sleep. When it speeds up, I’m dreaming. And other times, I’m either awake or in light sleep. I’m not sure I would know the difference, So I’m not sure that I should expect it to either. Anecdotally, it was rather amusing when I checked my sleep monitor applet (Sub-app of the Fitbit app) and found that Wednesday evening watching ‘The Last Jedi’ was being counted as light sleep. I mean I was definitely relaxed but …