OR Gear Trends: Electronics

From OR Daily: High-tech gadgets emphasize simplicity

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Spot Connect

Keep it simple–or rather make it simpler. That’s the lesson electronics makers have learned from the success of Apple, which continues to prove that consumers are more interested in ease-of-use than in claims of high-tech complexity. Give them the experience and not the technical story. At Winter Market, many of the new electronic products react that trend, with watches, as well as fitness and weather gadgets, plus other electronics getting upgrades and features that require thinner owner’s manuals.

Timex (#36151) is a case in point. It’s introducing the Health Tracker (MSRP $60), Health Touch (MSRP $65) and Expedition Trail Mate (MSRP $65) wrist-tops, all of which focus on ease-of-operation. The Health Touch is a heart-rate monitor that does not require a chest strap, taking one step out of the process for those who are less tech-savvy or just plain self-conscious. The Trail Mate includes a no-calibration-required pedometer, and the Health Tracker features a simple calorie counter.

(#19015), already on this trend for several seasons, brings fingertip-ready beta for backcountry skiers in its latest offering, the Core Extreme Edition Alpine (MSRP $349). This watch tracks weather and sounds an alarm to notify skiers of changes in barometric pressure. That means skiers can spend more time making turns and less trying to analyze weather data.

SPOT (#32094) merges PLB and GPS technology in an innovative–possibly game-changing–way with a Smartphone app and service that turns an Android phone (the iPhone version awaits Apple approval) into a map tracker and remote text messager (MSRP $170). Aptly named Connect, the SPOT app will let users send 140-character messages and map updates to friends, family and social media sites. Again, streamlining the interface means it far easier for tech-challenged users to benefit from a high-tech product.

–Doug Schnitzspahn, ORD powered by SNEWS (www.snewsnet.com/ordaily)