Suunto's new n3 wristwatch could break that vicious cycle. Not only is it among the first watches to receive a steady stream of news, weather and other info via Microsoft's new MSN Direct subscription service, it's a first-generation product that really works.
Despite the n3's 2.2 ounce heft and $300 price, I'm hooked, constantly flicking my wrist to get the latest news.
Before you strap it on your wrist, however, you'll have to charge the n3's lithium ion battery for about five hours. In fact, charging is a constant ritual because the power only lasts a few days.
The battery setup is rather clumsy. The watch comes with a charging clip that looks like a miniature automotive jumper cable. If you install the included Windows software you can charge the watch from your computer's USB port, too.
I suppose the short battery life is understandable, considering the functions the n3 brings to your wrist. I've resigned myself to the n3's voracious electrical appetite and incorporated it into my nightly routine, plugging it in before I go to bed.
The watch won't do anything but tell time until you register with Microsoft's MSN Direct Web site, direct.msn.com. If you don't already have one, you must open a .Net account with Microsoft.
From there, the Web site makes it easy to pick what content you want with just a few mouse clicks.
I went for it all, signing up for stories on breaking news, business, entertainment, sports, health, science and technology from The Associated Press, Reuters, MSNBC and Space.com.
About a half hour later, the silver dollar-sized watch face received the content. With the press of a button (there are five in all) I scrolled through a half-dozen short stories and checked stock prices for companies I had entered at the Web site.
Provided you use an Outlook-equipped Windows computer to manage your schedule, you can send appointment reminders to the watch.
Even by The Weather Channel standards, the n3's meteorological functions were overwhelming. You get current temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, a three day forecast, sunrise and sunset, wind speed and direction.
I suppose it was nice -- in a geeky gee-whiz kind of way -- to have all that data on the n3's crisp, backlit liquid-crystal display. Still, I felt ridiculous sitting outside and staring at my wrist for the latest weather updates instead of just looking skyward.
The service, available in 100 metropolitan areas in the United States and Canada, is free for the first month and $9.95 a month thereafter (or $59 annually).
The plastic timepiece works by picking up a special FM radio signal. Reception was strong where I live in Dallas, but based on Microsoft's coverage map, I'd be out of range if I visited President Bush's ranch in Crawford, about 100 miles to the southwest.
What's missing? Content. There's no real-time sports scores, although ESPN is expected to fill that void soon.
Another drawback is that you can receive instant messages sent with MSN Messenger, but you can't respond.
The watch is linked to an atomic clock and accounts for daylight savings time and leap years so it never needs adjusting. In a boon for frequent cross-country travelers, the n3 senses when it's in a new location and automatically sets itself to local time. It has all the usual watch functions like a chronograph and an alarm.
Suunto, a Finnish company better known for its line of diving timepieces, is not alone in offering MSN Direct-based watches. Richardson, Texas-based Fossil sells its Wrist Net watches starting at $130. (Suunto claims its watches are worth their higher price partly because they are waterproof and scratch-resistant.)
Compared to Internet-enabled cell phones or other data-rich gadgets, the n3 is a much faster way to get quick, basic information at a glance. It's one bit of early technology I'll be using for the long haul.
[ This Message was edited by: axxxr on 2004-06-24 02:05 ]
Posted by PeterKay
Msn data watch, oh my god...............
Whats the world coming to?
Whats Next I wonder???
Glasses that can see through clothes !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by brandonrawks
Axxxr, you live in Dallas? I thought you were a London guy! Hey, PM me if you're online still....
Posted by axxxr
I am a London guy!!
Posted by masseur
my first thought is "shame its not colour"!
I do like suunto products although quite often they are quite big
Posted by axxxr
Yeh would have been better if it was colour!!
Posted by o0xskaterx0o
a watch with a days battery... hmm... not very appealing. Well next of course it will be an in car charger for your watch
Posted by axxxr Full Review
All those who remember the Dick Tracy comic strip stand up. When I was growing up I was fascinated with Dick Tracyís two-way-radio watch when all I had was a Mickey Mouse watch that did nothing more than tell time. Actually, if I still had that watch, it would probably be worth a small fortune today. But, my fascination with multifunctional watches seems to have stemmed from the Dick Tracy days and hasnít faltered. I recall how excited I was when I got my first calculator watch. My four-year-old son called it a ďcopulatorĒ watch, which would have been really something to boast about.
Recently a wonderful new toy has come into my life in the form of an N3 watch from Suunto. It hooks up to the MSN Direct Service, which is delivered over a wireless network that is based on FM radio broadcast signals. The watch receives data in this fashion and will display current news, sports scores, stock reports of specified issues, and weather with the current data as well as a three-day forecast along with absolute barometric pressure. If thatís not enough, it will also receive your Outlook appointments and instant messages via MSN messenger.
You can set it to stream from one mode to another, or you can leave it in a particular mode and monitor new reports and messages as they become available and flash onto the watch face. Of course it concurrently displays the time, date, and day of week on a variety of watch-face layouts. You can even have it beam you a new watch-face every week.
Need I remind you that itís also a watch? As such, it has various timing functions expected of a chronograph these days that include training timers, interval timers, programmable alarms, dual time zones, and date display. Itís water resistant to a depth of 330 feet or 100 meters. As you travel, it will automatically adjust to the appropriate time zone.
Housed in a handsome black case embellished by a gold ring, this N3 sports watch features a shock-proof case with a scratch-resistant mineral crystal glass to protect the large, LCD screen. Five buttons on the side of the unit assist in navigation and settings. This USB compatible unit has a Lithium-ion battery and comes with a charger. Battery life can vary from a few days to several weeks depending on access and activity. Another model with a black-and-white case will soon be available in addition to the standard model.
Thereís just one catch, and that is for the time being, this technology is only available in North America at the moment, I suppose because it was developed by Microsoft. While it is available in over 100 cities, it is not ubiquitous. In my experience, the broadcast range is about 50 miles from its epicenter. However, if you are traveling from place to place, you can go to the Microsoft Website and schedule your itinerary so that you will begin receiving data when you come into broadcast range of a new location. Now I canít say for sure, but Iíve heard that Microsoft is talking to T-Mobile about extending radio coverage on a world-wide basis, and that would be just peachy. It is of particular interest to me, as I do not live in a metropolitan area and cannot get reception until I travel within radio range. Also, because it receives data from line of sight FM radio waves, tall buildings, big trees, and valleys interfere with the signal.
What comes in the box besides the watch? There is a CD containing a quick-start guide, an instruction manual, USB driver software, and a demonstration video. There is a 110V all plug charger with a USB adapter socket. The cord can also be plugged into the USB port of a computer to charge the watch as well.
To set up the service, you must go online to www.msndirect.com and register the product. There are two service plans: a monthly rate of $9.95 with one month free and a yearly rate of $59 with three months free. On the Website, you may select the services you want to have transmitted to you, which include weather, sports, news, stocks, instant messages, and Outlook appointments. Whoa! It pays to check the site from time to time. I have not visited it in a month or so, and I see some exciting new options available that now include horoscopes, ďdaily diversionsĒ, and lottery results.
In order to receive Outlook appointment reminders and MSN messages, you must download some more software that allows this to happen. There will be a watch icon in Outlook, and it is necessary to click on it now and then so that it will send your appointments to be encrypted and broadcast back to you. It also makes a new option available to people on your MSN Instant Messenger list that allows them to send an IM to your watch.
I was in a rather boring board meeting (is that why they call them board meetings?) the other day when I got my first instant message on my watch from my son in Chicago. It was so exciting. But it was also frustrating not to be able to reply. Actually, the place was wireless, so I got out my trusty Toshiba e805, went online and chatted with my son for a bit while the treasurer was reviewing the latest figures.
Suunto, a Finnish company, has a long tradition of making precision instruments dating back to 1940 when they specialized in bomb sites. On their Website at www.suunto.com , you will notice a wide array of specialized time pieces and other instruments of interest to sports enthusiasts, including a golf watch and a most remarkable GPS watch that I will be reviewing soon.
I am eager to put this wristop chronographic computer through its paces as I travel this summer and will report on my experiences. While itís not a ďcopulatorĒ in my four-year-old sonís parlance, Iím certain Dick Tracy would have loved to have one (but then he was a cop, after all), and I can tell you that Iím very pleased with mine and that it has been the subject of at least two of my newspaper articles so far and has created quite a stir of interest in the community where I live, as I am the first one to have such a unique time piece.
P.S. I just returned from the first half of my summer sojourn and must report that the N3 worked beautifully as I rolled along. I got the impression from the Microsoft site that it was necessary to schedule when Iíd be arriving and departing from each broadcast center. I am happy to report that this inconvenience was not necessary at all. As I arrived within broadcast range the watch would immediately start picking up the local broadcast. I left it on weather because it would display weather for Los Angeles, weather for Houston, weather for Chicago, etc. I always drove with anticipation of receiving new data along the way. What a fun and functional piece of gear that I wouldnít want to leave home without.
To get yours, go to www.suunto.com. And while youíre there, check out some of the other amazing wrist-top chronographs with various ingeneous applications.
Posted by switchbitch
It would be nice if we could get software for the p900 that allowed us to access the same features from direct.msn.com
Posted by Drz Daddy
this Watch is a very nice option for msn addicts