As the name would suggest, the WatchOut Next-Gen Kids Smartwatch is a wearable that is aimed at kids. Unfortunately, none of the editors at Digit are kids. Thankfully, I’ve been told multiple times that I have the mental age of a toddler, So I guess that will have to do.
As a child-centric device, the WatchOut Next-Gen Kids smartwatch sports a host of features aimed at giving parents better peace of mind by letting them not only track where their child is, but also give them an option to monitor their child. However, all this comes at the cost of the child’s privacy. Priced at around Rs 9,999, the device is also not exactly cheap. But is all this worth it just to give parents better peace of mind? Let’s find out.
The WatchOut Next-Gen Kids Smartwatch is made primarily out of plastic. However, that does not mean the build is bad. It’s actually quite sturdy and should be able to take on the rough and tumble lifestyle that kids tend to have. The straps also feel pretty solid and should not tear quite as easily. However, even if they do tear, the device allows users to replace the straps.
I feel that the main case of the watch is quite thick and could be a little too bulky for kids. But the large size should make it easier to use, especially for those who are quite young. Even the buttons are large, making them easier to press.
The WatchOut Next-Gen Kids Smartwatch comes with a total of three buttons. On the left are two buttons, the one on top is the power button, while at the bottom is the back button. On the right is a single large button. This is the SOS button and is activated when pressed for three seconds.
Interestingly, the sensor at the bottom may look like an optical heart rate sensor at first glance, but it is used to detect and notify when the watch has been removed. There is also a nano-SIM card slot on the left. There is also a 2MP camera on the front of the watch, while at the bottom is a speaker.
Display and UI
The WatchOut Next-Gen Kids Smartwatch sports a large round colour display, which should make it more appealing to kids. However, the resolution isn’t really that high and one can make out individual pixels too. It also comes with a bunch of pre-loaded watch displays. It should be noted that there isn’t any way to download any more watch faces for the device.
The display on the wearable is slightly sunken inwards, which gives it better protection from drops, which is a smart move considering the target audience. However, the glass of the display is prone to smudging, even with relatively clean fingers.
Swiping right from the watch face lets you access the main menu; while swiping down lets users access the quick settings. Notifications can be accessed by swiping up; while swiping left lets users access basic metrics such as steps taken, calories burned and distance travelled.
The performance isn’t really smooth and the transitions are noticeably slow, but I guess that’s not really the point here. It is pretty basic though, which makes sense considering the target audience. The simple navigation also makes it easier to understand.
Interestingly, the WatchOut Next-Gen Kids Smartwatch comes preloaded with a bunch of songs as well as games. The pre-loaded songs are… ermm… classics, shall we say. These include Hindi songs like ‘Bacche Man Ke Sacche’, ‘Ek Chidiya, Anek Chidiya’ and so forth. It also includes audiobooks of stories. These can be heard via the built-in speaker.
As far as the games are concerned, the selection is pretty impressive considering the device it’s on. Kids can choose between a version of Tetris, a Flappy Bird clone, a city guessing game and a game wherein kids have to select the right animal. Extremely simple games, but what else can one expect with the control options are so limited and the target audience so young?
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App and Performance
The WatchOut Next-Gen Kids Smartwatch pairs with a smartphone via the Wherecom app. The first phone to pair with the wearable becomes the master user and is given full control over the watch. Parents have to sign in to the wearable with their name, email, and phone number. Which is quite a lot, but not out of the ordinary. However, the app also requires a whole host of permissions. Some, such as camera, microphone, contacts and phone make sense considering that the device needs this to make video calls. But some, such as flashlight permissions, full network access, read google service configuration, change network connectivity and more is a bit too much if you ask me.
As for the watch itself, users are advised to first place the nano-SIM inside a phone in order to set up the network and other basics. Once that is done, it can then be placed inside the watch.
The app itself is pretty barebones but gets the job done. The main screen lets make video calls to the watch, track the location, metrics or even listen in on their kids. This ‘Listen’ mode lets the users listen to anything going on around the watch.
The settings option is where parents will be able to tweak the device settings and set up some of the more advanced features. This includes ‘Safe Zones’ wherein the parents will be notified if the child has left a certain perimeter as well as a ‘Class Mode’ which doesn’t allow access to the various modes of the device.
Safety vs privacy
It is hard to come to any sort of verdict with the WatchOut Next-Gen Kids Smartwatch. After all, how can anyone put a price on their kid’s security? I think the bigger question here is about privacy. How much should parents intrude upon their child’s privacy in the name of security? Many of the features of the watch, especially the geo-fencing, and ‘Listen in’ modes are at the very least, borderline invasive. It’s up to the parents to make the right decisions on when they need to be proactive with their children’s security and when they need to give them space.
Barring the questions around privacy aside, the WatchOut Next-Gen Kids Smartwatch is a device that fulfils the role it is meant to do. There aren’t many child-focused wearables in the market to choose from, but one notable wearable is the Fitbit Ace 2. However, it should be noted that the Fitbit wearable is slightly more expensive than the WatchOut Next-Gen Kids Smartwatch and does not offer the same number of features.
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