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New Smartwatches Announced at CES

Several tech companies announced new smartwatches at CES on Tuesday in Las Vegas. Though none of the devices are likely to be game-changers, they are, at least, interesting entries into the market.

Casio Smart Outdoor Watch: You may remember Casio from that iconic ’80s favorite: the calculator watch. But the company has moved well beyond simple mathematical computations with the new WSD-F10 Smart Outdoor Watch. Casio America is hoping to appeal to outdoorsy types with the rugged Android Wear device that features a water resistance of up to 50 meters and is built to military standard specifications. “We’re about lifestyle,” says David Johnson, vice president of Casio America. “You shouldn’t have to adjust your lifestyle to match your new tech. The [WSD-F10] is designed for users who enjoy the outdoors.”

The watch displays essential information for cyclists, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts, using a pressure sensor to track air pressure and altitude, a compass, a gyrometer and an accelerometer. The watch face features a dual-layer touchscreen display with monochrome and color LCDs. The optional monochrome display is meant to help extend battery life. According to the company, wearers can extend its life to more than one month by using a “timepiece mode” that displays only watch data in monochrome. Of course, that defeats the purpose of having a smartwatch, but could be useful if you’re out in the woods without a charging solution and still need to keep time.

Other notable features include a built-in microphone, large, slip-free buttons that can be easily operated with gloves on, and Casio’s Moment Setter+ smartphone companion app that helps users push relevant information, like time of sunrise, or when fish tend to be most active, to the smartwatch for easy access during outdoor activities. “It only made sense to turn our attention to the wrist,” says Shunji Minami, emerging new business manager for Casio. “This is the perfect location for instant access to information.”

The Smart Outdoor Watch is set to launch in April, for a hefty $500 price tag. Whether fishermen and other nature lovers will bite remains to be seen.

Fitbit Blaze: The fitness-tracking giant took aim at the Apple Watch with its newest offering, the Fitbit Blaze, which will be available globally in March, and is being pre-sold for just under $200. The connected watch includes smart notifications, like call, text and calendar alerts. It also includes enhanced fitness features like a connected GPS, heart rate tracking, guided onscreen workouts with animated images, and “SmartTrack” automatic exercise recognition to help motivate you toward your fitness goals. The Blaze boasts a long battery life of up to five days.                                

With this iteration, Fitbit focused on style, creating a slim design, sleek touchscreen and easily interchangeable bands and frames. “One of the first things we learned in this industry is that fitness is personal – and if something isn’t your style, you won’t wear it,” says James Park, CEO and co-founder of Fitbit. “With Fitbit Blaze, we pushed the boundaries of what’s possible to create a beautiful, versatile device that can be customized to fit your personal style – while packing a powerful fitness punch to help you reach your goals.”