swatch paparazzi

Review of the Swatch Paparazzi MSN Direct (SPOT) Watch

The Swatch Paparazzi is a welcome and refreshing improvement to the current line of MSN Direct watches. It’s not that the present versions from Suunto, Fossil and Tissot are lacking — in fact, I believe they range from great (Fossil) to better (Suunto) to amazing (Tissot) — but the Swatch Paparazzi brings a and more urban feel to a line of watches which thus far tend to be linked with, at best, business men, but more usually, geeks. Plus, Swatch have been put by the Paparazzi back on my radar display from which it has been conspicuously absent since about middle school. Not only am I wearing the Swatch Paparazzi on my wrist right now as I type, but I’m loving it, and not looking forward to the inevitable moment when I must put it away and move on.

Before I continue with the review, I need to say that I had initially intended to review the watch and the MSN Direct service individually, however I have since determined to join the reviews into one since, as is true with any nicely incorporated hardware and applications, the two are mostly inextricable. Nevertheless, I will dedicated a section of this review totally to the MSD Direct service which should be useful to any MSN Direct watch.

swatch paparazzi msn direct

Options that come with the Swatch Paparazzi contain:

  • Customizable watch faces. As with all MSN Direct watches, select the face that best suites your disposition or scenario. Strive pressing the enter button (middle button in the right hand side) while seeing your preferred watch face. I found that some of faces may have a few distinct styles, while arbitrarily shoving buttons to see what might occur. When the face does not support multiple modes, it will let you know by beeping at you.
  • Stopwatch (chronograph). I found the Paparazzi supports up to 99 schisms. Once time has been discontinued although hundredth of seconds are not shown after the first ten seconds (to maintain battery life, I suppose), they are shown and recorded. I discovered the stopwatch will go up to 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds before throwing.
  • Two totally customizable alarms. By totally customizable, I mean either alarm can be configured to sound every day, on one particular day of the week (every Monday, for instance, to make sure you remember to go back to work), or on any given date. I adore this characteristic, and find it incredibly useful. It’s a wonderful way to remind yourself of something without troubling with your PDA. The backlight flashes in addition to the audible alarm, in case you turned the sound on your watch away in order to prevent being primitive in a picture or at a wedding (though if you did, you need to get your priorities right!).
  • Countdown timer. No digital watch is totally whole without one, in my opinion. The range is from one second to 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds. Backlight flashes in addition to audible alarm.
  • Calendar. Of course you get the date, but the Paparazzi (along with all MSN Direct watches) additionally gives you a complete calendar. This is another characteristic I totally adore. Check out the Paparazzi photo gallery to see it in action, but essentially, you get a complete seven-column calendar which you can scroll backward and forward. No more counting on your fingers and toes attempting to figure out whether your birthday falls on a weekend this year.
  • Wireless time calibration. All MSN Direct watches are calibrated through the MSN Direct network (via FM radio signal), whether you have subscribed to the MSN Direct service or not. If you’re the type of person who is perpetually late, don’t worry — you can even configure a 5, 10, or 15 minute counter to make sure you’re constantly on time or a tad early.
  • Free radio content. The Swatch Paparazzi receives a small number of content from the MSN Direct network even if you don’t active the watch. Free content contains amusement news (unique to your present geographic region), general news headlines, and local weather conditions. You will discover the Paparazzi to be reasonably feature rich before ever giving Microsoft your credit card number.
  • MSN Direct Service. Your wireless content is taken by the MSN Direct service to the next degree. Although it’s a really adequate watch without the service, adding MSN Direct gets you the skill to install new watch faces, synchronize appointments with Outlook, and to receive astonishingly in-depth news, messages, weather info, stock quotes, sports scores, horoscopes, picture info, “recreations,” and lottery numbers. (More on the MSN Direct service, and each individual station, under.)
  • Internet Time. Internet Time is to time what the metric system is to measurement. The negative is that it just appears to be supported by Swatch. More on Internet Time underneath.
  • Water resistant. Just to 3 ATM, though (3 BAR, 30 meters, or 100 feet). My recommendation would be to strive to keep this watch as dry as possible. Don’t worry about becoming caught in a rain storm, but don’t wear it while swimming the English Channel or dive for sunken treasure, either.
  • Rechargeable battery. Don’t panic. This isn’t as terrible as it seems. If you’re as much of a gadget nut as I am, right now you’re believing that you need another charger in your life like you need a tax audit, but it’s actually not that terrible. It’s small, light, mobile, and after a two hour price, your watch will be great to go for between four and five days, depending on its settings. I believe I could truly squeeze six days out of it if I truly needed to, but there’s no sense in attempting to establish a world record, particularly if it could mean having to be disconnected until you can get back to home base. I understand a watch charger is only one more thing you have to remember to package (and repack after the security staff at the airport remove it from your bag), but it’s better than keeping a substantial supply of hearing aid batteries on hand (recall the Timex Messengers?).
  • Individual power for radio receiver. That’s the most refined manner I could think of to say that you can toggle the watch’s ability to receive FM signals separate of the watch’s principal power, making it kosher for inflight use.
  • Settings. I’m not sure this qualifies as an actual attribute, but I believe it’s worth saying. The Paparazzi (and all MSN Direct watches) have a really trendy settings/configuration display more reminiscent of a PDA than a watch.

What Precisely is MSN Direct

Let me begin this section by making sure that I have completely debunked the misconception that this watch is worthless without paying a monthly subscription fee. Not accurate at all. The Paparazzi is quite feature rich correct out of the carton, the free data the watch receives is actually only a flavor of what is possible with the MSN Direct service (and, presumably, Microsoft will be adding additional stations in the future Whether MSN Direct stations are really of any use to you is another question, but the data is undoubtedly there for the taking. (Or, at least, for the buying.) Should you determine to lively the watch, the procedure is fast and straightforward, consisting of entering the identification number of your watch into a web interface at the MSN Direct website along with payment info, configuring the watch through a really well done web application, then waiting for the watch to be activated, and for all your content to be transmitted. Activation simply took about an hour in my case, but it was several hours before all the content had completely downloaded. I advocate viewing the Star Wars Trilogy in order to keep yourself from obsessively tracking its improvement while you wait. Don’t try anything like work or I guarantee you will be totally diverted.

Here are the stations now open to MSN Direct subscribers:

  • Added watch faces. The Paparazzi came with five watch faces, and I was able to download two more out of a potential seven after subscribing to MSN Direct. Both faces I use most would not have been accessible to me without subscribing (no coincidence, I’m sure). As well, Any channel can be also used by you as a watch face. When a station is left idle, it will begin scrolling through its information, and a small tavern with the date, time, and signal strength index will slide down and sit at the top of the face.
  • Peek. The Peek “station” is fundamentally a configurable slide show of other MSN Direct stations. The thought is that simply by glancing at your watch, you can instantly digest essential bits of info. This doesn’t work for me since I’m the sort who would rather go through all the news headlines or stock indices when I have a sufficient block of time, but I guess for some, it makes sense.
  • Messages. Receive “prompt” messages from MSN Messenger. Why is “prompt” in estimates? You have to wait for the message to be routed to the radio tower, and for your watch to receive it via FM radio transmission. Needless to say, it’s not instantaneous, yet the messages do receive a high information precedence, and do tend to be delivered in a very fair amount of time. I don’t use MSN Messenger (I’m already packaging a wireless AIM client), so this attribute is lost on me, yet if I did, I’d be all over it. And no, you can’t send instant messages from the watch — just receive them. You likely wouldn’t need to see how large the watch would have to be in order to be capable to broadcast FM signals as well as receive them.
  • Weather. Get three day predictions, and present states. Really pleasant. You may total as much as 10 additional cities around the world to track (named “My Cities”), and present states for 110 North American and 75 international cities are constantly accessible. Weather heads can now safely step away from their TVs.
  • News. Wonderful station. Get several distinct kinds of news (headline, company, international, technology, sports, entertainment, weather, local, and well-being) from several distinct configurable sources. You can also choose to receive news alarms which means you will receive messages as significant occasions unfold. The watch can receive and show a surprising quantity of information within a reasonably intuitive interface. For instance, one of the top reports on my watch right now (divide across six “screens”) is “Iraqi government declares 60-day state of emergency; U.S. forces capture little segment of rebel-held land in Fallujah. The Iraqi authorities declared 6 days of emergency rule throughout most of the state Sunday, and U.S. troops captured a little segment of land in Fallujah ahead of an anticipated all-out offensive on the guerrilla safety.” Not a terrible piece of advice, considering I’m reading it off my watch.
  • Stocks. If you’re a stock junkie, this is a wonderful station, though don’t depend on it when investing your life savings since you can’t actually be positive when the information was last updated. I usually use it to get an idea of what the market is doing, which is good enough for me. You can add up to 15 symbols to the stock station to see, and see tendencies over the last week on a glib small graph.
  • Calendar. Although you get the calendar itself for free, subscribing to MSN Direct enables you to synchronize Outlook appointments (and reminders) with your watch. I don’t use Outlook, but if I did, this characteristic alone would be worth the price of admission. I believe this is an incredibly useful and revolutionary characteristic (I don’t even use it, and it’s 1 of my favorites). If you use this attribute and/or receive MSN Messenger messages on your watch, and you are a voyager, be certain to let the MSN Direct service understand through your on-line account where you’re going to be so it understands where to air your information. You can enter up to five distinct long-term traveling places, so if you tend to frequent the same five (or fewer) cities, once you set it up, you can forget it.
  • Daily Deflections. Word of the day, quote of the day, born on this day, and this day in history. The present quotation of the day is “It is better not to express what one means than to express what one does not mean.” I discover this station rather worthless, but I could see some worth during a long commute or head-numbing assembly. Or maybe if you’re looking for something apparently deep to say to a cute girl at the next table.
  • Lottery. If you’re addicted to the lotto, you will become addicted to this station. If not, you likely won’t find it of much use. What would be a genuinely cool feature is if the Lottery Station could give you the winning numbers for forthcoming drawings, but as it stands, you can simply get amounts for drawings in the past.
  • Sports. The sports channel appears to be rather intelligently designed in order to optimize the space on your watch. It is first broken down into sports (baseball, basketball, and football), and then by league (college football, men’s college basketball, MLB, NBA, NFL, WNBA, and women’s college basketball), and lastly, by team. If you follow a lot of teams, I would imagine it would take some time to configure, but at least you’re not squandering precious watch space on teams you don’t care about. If I were a sports fanatic, I’d be all over this station, and thus, this watch.
  • Horoscopes. I think you’re either into this things, or you’re not. I’m not. But just for fun, now’s forecast is, “Indulge in intimate actions. Light candles; throw a spell.” Sure thing.
  • Pictures. The latest add-on to the MSN Direct station lineup, and 1 of my favorites. Decide your city, then add the precise theatres you regular (up to 10). All three of my favourite theatres were there, and from the looks of it, yours should be there, as well. Never be without film titles and show times again.

So bottom line: is it worth it to subscribe to the MSN Direct service? That’s a choice you’ll have to make after assessing the MSN Direct stations for yourself, and how a device like this might fit into your day-to-day routine. You can get everything but the ability to receive instant messages from MSN Messenger and the skill to synchronize with Outlook for $40 per year. Add $20 for MSN Messenger and Outlook integration for a total of $60 for everything for a year. What does that work out to monthly? Jump one excursion to Starbucks each month, and you’ve pretty much got it covered. (Not sure if that says more about MSN Direct or Starbucks, but now, I’m addicted to both.)

The View Itself

Check out the photo gallery to get a great feel for the Paparazzi in activity. I’m the first to acknowledge that it isn’t just a subtle or too tasteful watch (particularly the red and orange versions), though it’s not as terrible as it could be. I understand I have utterly perverted standards when it comes to view sizes, but I discover it within the limit of satisfactory, though be prepared to receive a specific number of heckling from your pals if they are not as geeky as you are. Everyone anticipates to see something distinct and/or outlandish on my wrist, so I can get away with more than most folks, but the average Joe or Jane may need to be prepared to defend themselves against snickers and jeers from snobby associates.

If Nicolas Hayek (CEO of Swatch) or Bill Gates were reading this right now, they would likely be disappointed. The Paparazzi was always meant to be trendy, not geeky. Trendy watches have names like “Paparazzi” while geeky watches have names like “DataReceptor HK-3842.” Permit me to address this problem head on. The coolness of the Paparazzi will probably be ordered by circumstance. On me, it’s a tad geeky because I supply a somewhat geeky backdrop. And whenever anyone inquires about the watch, I make the error of gushing about its technical virtues rather than my skill to find out about hot new club openings in real-time. The bottom line is that if you are cool, the watch will be trendy. But the Paparazzi will likely not make you any cooler, if you are geeky, sorry. If you’re thinking of getting one, you might need to go all out and select the orange or reddish versions as they have a , hipper feel to them. I made the error of going for the black model which I have since learned appears to say, “I don’t need anyone to see how geeky my watch is” which, of course, brings peoples’ focus right to it.

I examined the Paparazzi in San Francisco, Washington DC, and New Orleans, and it worked flawlessly in all three cities. On my way to New Orleans, the watch even fixed to the new time before we landed. (Should I have turned the radio receiver away along with all my other electronic devices? If you work for the FAA, drop me a line and let me know.) The backlight on the watch is excellent. The effect is hard to describe, but fundamentally it makes everything dark gleam glowing green, and everything that would usually be light turn dark. And it doesn’t merely turn off like some lower-end backlights are content to do. It really fades out for more of a Macintosh-like encounter (sorry for the analogy, Bill).

If you’re comfortable with the company of watches, you might have figured out by now that the Paparazzi has a big brother by the name of High T. The High T (really, my favourite MSN Direct watch, though sadly, I don’t really possess one yet) is made by Tissot which is a high-end brand possessed by Swatch Group (Hamilton and Omega, among others, are also worthy sibs). I bring this up because the High T and some technology is clearly shared by the Paparazzi. The backlight is quite similar if not identical on both watches, and the Paparazzi user guide was clearly derived from the Tissots’ as it mistakenly mentions things like the touch screen which is a characteristic of the High T, not the Paparazzi.

The High T is a fantastic watch, offering really advanced characteristics like a touch screen (pat the sapphire crystal to shift styles rather than having to push buttons), and a vibrating alarm. While the Paparazzi goes for a much more fair $150, the High T sells for $725, yet. If money were not a thought, the High T would truly be my first pick and my #1 recommendation, but until I receive a complimentary component to review, I’m sticking with the Paparazzi.

One more characteristic of the Paparazzi that is worth pointing out is the Internet Time function. Internet Time is Swatch’s effort to modernize time by getting rid of sloppy and confounding time zones and apparently arbitrary and old fashioned units. The thought is that a day is divided up into 1000 “beats” beginning from midnight in Biel, Switzerland (house of Swatch). Each beat is 1 minute and 26.4 seconds which sets midday at just 500 beats (expressed as @500). Midnight, thus, is @000 beats. Internet Time is the same all over the world, so you never have to worry about attempting to compute local times by adding or subtracting counterbalances from GMT. So at this particular moment, it’s @297 all over world, not only on the east shore of the US. I enjoy standardization, yet the issue is the lack of circumstance. Although I understand it’s @297 all over the world, I don’t understand what that means to anyone else in the world. In standard time, it’s 1:10 a.m. here, but what does @297 mean in Japan? Is everyone sleeping, or active commuting to or home from work? Trendy thought, but you likely don’t need to begin telling folks to report for an assembly in 5 beats any time shortly.

What I enjoy about the Swatch Paparazzi:

  • Great interface. Swatch can’t actually take all the credit for this since I consider the user interface was designed by Microsoft, but who cares who gets the credit. The purpose is that it’s great. The watch has a plethora of attributes, yet everything looks rapidly and readily reachable and configurable. Details like being able to move forward or backwards by increments of five when holding down buttons makes the experience feel polished.
  • Wonderful button feel. The buttons on the Paparazzi feel wonderful. In fact, ironically enough, they feel significantly better than they seem. I believe they tend to seem cheap and plasticy (which, of course, they are), however they feel stiff and sound and strong, but not so stiff that they are uneasy to use (unless you record 99 schisms with the stopwatch, at which point the tip of your thumb will begin to feel it).
  • Great typical watch characteristics. Even with no wireless abilities whatsoever, the Paparazzi would offer substantially more than your typical digital watch. I adore relating dates with alarms, and being able to look at an actual calendar grid right on my wrist. And, of course, you have to have the countdown timer.
  • Automatic time calibration. I’m huge into truth, and I adore the fact that the Paparazzi calibrates itself using a signal including information from an atomic clock. And I adore the fact that the time zone fixes mechanically. I understand Internet Time makes time zones outdated, but until the remainder of the world is prepared to do away with them, it’s pleasant to have a watch that makes them easier to cope with.
  • Customizable watch faces. I truly find myself using distinct faces in different situation. When I’m going, the face that shows two analogue faces side by side with the time from two distinct time zones (the Paparazzi usually places the default time zone mechanically, but permits you to configure a secondary time zone) is perfect. If I’m doing something more active and need to be able to see the time at a rapid glimpse, I’ll pick for face with big digital amounts.
  • MSN Direct. I enjoy it. For me, it’s worth the $3.33 per month. It’s not worth it for everyone, though, so make your own choice.

What I don’t enjoy about the Paparazzi:

  • Watch face restrictions. While I adore the thought of customizable watch faces, I wish I had more choices, and I wish they weren’t related to the watch itself. In other words, I would like to have the choice of using any watch face ever created for any MSN Direct watch. And the greatest characteristic would be the skill to create my own.
  • No vibrating alarm. I understand, I’m presumed to buy the Tissot High T if I need a vibrating alarm, but even my old Timex Messenger had a really successful quiet way. Vibrating alarms make more sense on watches than cell phones (at least in the sense that the shaking is easier to find), but it’s a really uncommon characteristic on watches. I would love to be able to set my Paparazzi into quiet mode during assemblies and pictures.
  • The group. I’m not a huge supporter of the group. It’s thick and stiff, and refuses to alter its exceptionally affected contour no matter how long I wear the watch. It’s like memory cable, only rubber. It’s normally tight enough against the sides of my wrist to make marks, but so loose beneath that I can easily slip a finger between the underside of my wrist and the group’s buckle. I was also surprised to discover that I needed to get it sized. Take your Paparazzi to anyplace that sells Tissots, and they should be able to trim it down for you. (If they tell you they can’t, tell them to use the same piece of gear they would use on a Tissot High T.)
  • Instruction manual. Although I’m not typically a supporter of instruction manual (preferring instead experiment), I’m sure many others will need more explanation than what is available in the Quick Start guide in the carton and the downloadable PDF. I believe it would be cool to sell Paparazzis with CDs or DVDs including visual tutorials. (Of course, given a choice, I’d preferably the cost be kept down.)

If you’re interested about the MSN Direct family of watches, the Swatch Paparazzi is a fairly great version to experiment with. Although it’s not the absolute cheapest, it’s still quite affordable, and the free wireless content can give you a flavor of what it’s like to have a linked apparatus strapped to your wrist before you really make Microsoft $40 or $60 richer. The Paparazzi’s are full featured, enjoyable, and affordable, and may be the first of the MSN Direct family capable of finally bringing this sort of technology to the hip and urban masses.