When Microsoft initially launched MSN Direct several years ago, there were few watches available to take advantage of the service. Years later, not only has the service improved, offering greater range for users and more subscription channels, the selection of watches has expanded as well. At this year's CES, Microsoft announced several new watch partners, including Swatch, but also showed off new designs by Tissot and Suunto.
Suunto, a Finnish manufacturer, refers to its Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) watches as "wrist-top computers." Its previous model, the, was regarded as one of the best first-generation SPOT watches, and now, the N3i can be seen as the update to it. It sports a slimmer size, an interchangeable leather strap, and of course, the MSN Direct service. But be warned that this pretty watch costs a pretty penny at $299.
While the software on all SPOT watches is essentially the same, the hardware can be decidedly different, depending on which timepiece you choose. Compared to other SPOT watches, the Suunto N3i is quite sporty. This should come as no surprise, seeing that Suunto specializes inwatches. The N3i ships with a leather band that's supercomfortable, and the unit itself is quite thin and lightweight for a SPOT watch. It also rocks a large, scratch-resistant LCD and a five-button navigation system. Unlike the , which has the antenna in its band, the Suunto N3i's antenna is located in the circular ring that encompasses the watch face. The N3i supports changeable watch faces, and this model ships with six default faces and has room for two more downloadable versions.