I used to wear a watch all the time while I was in the military and then I went through a phase where I just used my phone to for my timekeeping needs. MSN Direct with SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology) was launched on watches and I had the opportunity to check out a couple of different models (check out my thoughts on Geek.com from 2004). I liked the services provided by MSN Direct and wore SPOT watches for the next couple of years. The platform slowed down a bit for a while and I was worried it was going away when ABACUS released their Smart Watch 2006 devices. I was sent the ABACUS Smart Watch 2006 with green fabric band for evaluation and am again wearing a SPOT watch.
While there wasn't any revolutionary updates, the watch itself was made a bit slimmer and the wrist band was significantly improved. The antenna for the MSN Direct service is found around the face of the watch and no longer in the band like the earlier generations. This makes for a much more comfortable watch that can be worn at all times. The Smart Watch 2006 still uses the light, channel, previous, next, and enter buttons to control the watch and navigate through the MSN Direct content. There are 5 band/face styles that you can check out on the MSN Direct photos page.
The charging method on the ABACUS Smart Watch 2006 is different than the metal-to-metal clamp contact and induction cradle methods I have seen on older generation watches. The Smart Watch 2006 now charges with a magnetic piece with 4 metal contacts that securely attaches to the back of the watch. A USB connection is on the other end to charge via your PC or via an a/c adapter plugged into a standard outlet.
The Smart Watch 2006 green fabric band watch is very well constructed, has a classy design, and a very long battery life. I was able to go just about a full week between charges, which is quite an improvement over some models I saw with a 2-3 day life. I don't have any problem charging my watch once per week and like wearing this new watch. They also added more on board memory so you are not really limited in what channels you select to load onto your watch. In the past, I had to leave out channels due to the storage capacity so this is a very welcome addition.
The channels included with MSN Direct are weather, traffic, movies, news, stocks, Outlook calendar appointments, local events, sports, daily diversions, horoscopes, lottery, MSN Messenger messages, and watch faces. I personally use the movies, weather, and sports channels the most, but like to keep the watch on the At a Glance channel that feeds content on a rotating basis. The traffic channel has recently been updated and is the newest channel. As a Seattle/Tacoma commuter, I am discovering more and more about this channel.
There are three different service plans for MSN Direct. The free automatic service includes local weather, international news, stocks, and a monthly calendar (no Outlook synchronization). The US$39.95/year plan includes all the channels, except for the MSN Messenger messages and Outlook calendar synchronization. To get these two other pieces of data to sync you need to go for the US$59.95/year Smart Plan Plus.
I like the way all the information on the watch is "glanceable" so I can quickly get my info without disturbing a conversation or being rude to people I am talking with at the moment. The watch is classy looking, yet geeky enough for the tech minded individual and is a nice addition to your gadget collection. You can purchase one of these MSN Direct watches directly from the MSN Direct site for US$179 for the watch and one year of service.