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Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: 2015: The Year's Best Tech for Work and Play

Apple Watch: My best tech purchase of 2015, and I'm as surprised as you are

In 2015 I bought and tested a great many tech devices -- including big ticket items like the Surface 3 and iPad Pro -- but Apple's wearable proved to be the best of the lot. Here's why.

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In just a few days the crystal ball will descend on Times Square to signal the beginning of a new year. That means it's time to look back on all the gadgetry I purchased this year and name the best of the lot.

I like doing this every year even though it's not an easy task given how many devices I typically buy over the year. This is especially true in 2015 as I purchased some big ticket items like the Microsoft Surface 3 and Apple iPad Pro. You'd think one of those would grab the title of best of the lot but after careful thought the best tech I purchased this year is the Apple Watch.

This choice surprised me as much as it probably does you but after careful consideration the Apple Watch tops my purchase list. For a gadget to be proclaimed as the best it must meet several criteria as noted below.

Value added every day

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Apple Watch face complications

I not only buy lots of tech gadgets, I use them every day. New purchases are made with the expectation each will add value to my work day. The gadget picked as the best must add a lot of value on a regular basis.

2015

The Year's Best Tech for Work and Play

ZDNet takes a look back at very best tech stories and features of 2015. From the year's tech turkeys to products and services that get business done, we round up top gadgets, cloud highs, security lows -- and much more.

The Apple Watch has been doing that since the purchase. After a brief period of tailoring app notifications I had a system that shows me what I want to see on the watch. I no longer miss things that matter to me; they are on my wrist.

The same is true for text messages. I get them regularly and the tickle on my wrist is the perfect attention-getter. I know when a text has arrived without even looking at the watch.

Another value add provided by the Apple Watch is the use of reminders. I've never liked iOS reminders and didn't use them until the arrival of the watch. Having them pop up on the watch face turns reminders into useful tools. I now use them constantly and that's strictly due to getting the Apple Watch.

Help me better handle my day

A good gadget pulls its weight when used during the day; a great gadget impacts how well my day progresses. Far more than other gadgets I purchased in 2015, the Apple Watch impacts my day in positive ways that I never thought would make much of a difference.

When I got the Apple Watch I didn't think I'd use it for phone calls much but that's turned out to not be the case. Most incoming calls get answered on the watch and it has a positive impact throughout the day.

This is especially true since finding myself in a wheelchair. Being in the chair makes things harder than before, and has a major impact on how each day unfolds. I have to give careful consideration about what gear I bring with me and how it's packed in the bag.

Driving the motorized chair with my right hand means I have to do virtually everything on the run with just one hand. That's why the Apple Watch is such a positive addition to my mobile tool kit. Simply raising my left arm brings the watch to life and shows me what I need. As important as that was before, it's huge since landing in the power chair.

My iPhone 6 Plus stays securely in the bag due to the contribution of the Apple Watch. As mentioned I see important text messages as they arrive. I no longer miss calls due to the time it takes me to get the iPhone out off the bag. The Apple Watch is always there on my wrist keeping me on top of everything and in touch with those important to me.

The forecast says...

One month with the Apple Watch: Pain, joy, and daily experiences

The Apple Watch Sport edition has been strapped on my wrist for a month and for the most part it has exceeded all of my expectations. It's even better now that I realized I was wearing it wrong.

As trivial as it sounds, an important function of the Apple Watch is keeping me informed of the weather. By that I specifically mean the weather in the near time frame and right where I am in a given moment.

Chances are most city dwellers who spend a lot of time on foot in the city have been surprised by a sudden downpour.

Avoiding this is extremely important to me as my wheelchair is electric. Electronics and water don't get along well and I have to be careful. That's why having weather information on my wrist is so important.

With just a tap on the current temperature Complication on the Apple Watch face, I summon a graphic display predicting when and if rain is moving into the immediate area. This advance warning gives me time to get inside while keeping my wheelchair dry.

Best of 2015

The Apple Watch has a positive impact on my daily routine. This is done with little effort on my part. Because it's sitting on my wrist it is very useful for someone in a wheelchair. Perhaps I wouldn't designate it the best purchase I made this year if that wasn't the case, but it is and I did.

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