Cool Tool Friday: MSN Direct Watches

I’ve gotten a few emails asking me what ever happened to Cool Tool Friday. Sorry I’ve been remiss. It’s not due to a lack of cool tools so much as a lack of time. Anyway, enough excuses. On to my newest toy.

If you’re a regular reader, you know how much I love watches. I’ve loved them all my life. All kinds of watches, too, from Timex to Rolex. I like traditional mechanical and automatic analog watches, as well as the bleeding edge digitals. So when I first came across Microsoft’s SPOT watches, I was dying to try one, but there weren’t any models available yet that I really liked, or that were cheap enough to buy as an experiment. Then Swatch introduced the Swatch Paparazzi and I made the leap.

The Swatch Paparazzi is a fantastic watch in and of itself even without the MSN Direct service. It has just about every time-related feature you could ask for in a watch from support for multiple time zones to a countdown timer to two programmable alarms (meaning you can set the date as well as just the time) to a full calendar interface. The backlight is every effective, the buttons have a perfect feel, and at $150, the price is right.

Then add on the MSN Direct service, and you have a very powerful tool. In addition to all the features I just named, I now have news headlines, news alerts, stock quotes, customizable watch faces, movie information, and weather. And there are several other “channels” I could add, as well (like sports and horoscopes) if I were interested.

What are the downsides? Well, you pay yearly for the MSN Direct service. I got the $40 plan (which doesn’t include Outlook synchronization) which I personally think is fairly reasonable. And the other downside is the size of the watch. Since it has a built-in antenna, it’s not exactly subtle, and doesn’t quite say the same thing as a Seiko, Citizen, Omega, or a Tag Heuer. But it’s a fun watch, nonetheless, and definitely a good addition to my collection.

For more information on the Swatch Paparazzi, you can read a review here. Also, anyone else out there wearing an MSN Direct watch right now? If so, what do you think?