Tissot High T review: Tissot High T
Swiss timepiece maker Tissot gets into the smart watch game. Is it worth the price of entry?
Let's face it. If you're in the market for a smart watch, you're probably the kind of gadget lover who actually puffs up with pride when someone calls you a geek. Real geeks aren't necessarily into status symbols. Perhaps that's why we found it hard to fawn over the Tissot High T, the most expensive among the growing list of watches that receive data via a wireless service developed by Microsoft and offered through its MSN Web portal.
Tissot is a 155-year-old Swiss watchmaker. Any company that has survived for so long comes, predictably enough, to stand for tradition. But Tissot has been trying to revamp its image into something more modern. In the 278-page company history that comes packaged with the High T, Tissot ballyhoos its recent record of innovation, most notably, it crows, a line of watches that offers touch-screen technology.
And that's the biggest factor that distinguishes the Tissot High T from other Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) watches using Microsoft's MSN Direct technology.
With the other SPOT watches, you navigate by using several buttons located around the watch face. The Tissot High T allows you to navigate by pressing an activation button, then simply tapping the crystal display with your finger. While that's plenty neat, the hip factor alone just doesn't cut it anymore. Cool technology still has to work, and the Tissot High T's touch screen wasn't so great. While the High T, like most other SPOT watches, is notably bulky, not even its relatively oversize crystal face proved to be friendly to a stubby finger trying to double as stylus.
Aside from that, though, the SPOT watches we've tried, whether from Suunto, Fossil, Swatch, and now Tissot, all offer pretty much the same thing: For an annual fee of $59 (or $40 for just the channels and no Outlook integration), Microsoft's MSN Web portal beams data to the watch via an FM radio signal, allowing you to receive short messages, news alerts, stock quotes, sports scores, movie times, and oh yes, your daily horoscope. The service will synchronize with your Microsoft Outlook calendar, reliably and discreetly reminding you of your appointments right from your wrist. Additionally, the High T also supports the ability to allow users to receive messages from MSN Messenger. Also, like all other MSN Direct watches, the High T lets you receive instant messages, but you can't respond to them.
Like the Swatch and Fossil SPOT watches, the Tissot High T's antenna is located in the plastic wristband, making it stiff and ill fitting. It arrived with enough of band to fit around a tree trunk. Since Tissot doesn't offer any instructions for resizing the band on your own, we felt obliged to cart the one we tested to a jeweler who sold Tissot watches. And by the way, there aren't that many places to buy a Tissot, either in stores or online.
You also have to wonder about the Tissot High T's durability. The user manual claims the watch is water-resistant to a depth of nearly 100 feet but warns you not to activate any of its three push buttons underwater.
But the biggest problem we had with the Tissot is its price. It goes for anywhere from two to three times the prices of other SPOT watches. But it's not the price per se that gave us pause. While Microsoft continues to expand and improve its SPOT network, the technology hasn't attracted users in droves. You have to wonder whether it's worth spending that much money for a watch--no matter how good--that can only work with a service whose future isn't yet assured.