#Trending: How much should you pay for wearable tech?

As Black Friday approaches, we look at who is trying to charge too much
#Trending: The price of wearables

This week is a great week to buy your first - or second, or tenth - bit of wearable tech. Everyone is getting involved and we've even already seen some Apple Watch deals.

But if there's a pre-Christmas, Black Friday and Cyber Monday wearable tech buying frenzy, it's in part down to the price tags tech companies have been sticking on smartwatches, fitness trackers and smart jewellery.

When Samsung launched its first Galaxy Gear, it was asking $299 for an ugly smartwatch that only worked with Samsung phones. Now a Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse fitness tracker with heart rate monitoring is just $16. Times have changed.

Read this now: The best Black Friday deals on wearable tech

The answer to the question - how much should wearables cost? - is of course the same answer as - what do wearables do? In that, there isn't one straightforward answer for every person and every device. It depends.

But here's a few rules before we dig into who we think is pricing fairly and who needs a wake up call.

  • Pay for fashion brands, not tech brands. The Tag Heuer Connected could benefit more from customer loyalty than even Apple. Tag knows how to make things that you wear on your wrist, the Apple Watch is Cupertino's first go.
  • Pay for features and specs you actually need and ones you can't get on affordable devices. The obvious ones right now are GPS, waterproofing and an accurate enough heart rate monitor. Step tracking is cheap.
  • Also pay for software, accurate algorithms, communities and AI. This is the stuff that's expensive to get right but is amazing when it works.
  • Look at devices from 2014 and early 2015 - there's no shame in them.
  • If you have a really specific mix of functionality in mind, look at buying a few pieces i.e. a cheap tracker and a piece of smart jewellery. Or go modular with Blocks or Pebble's Smartstraps.

WEAR - Misfit, Pebble, Motorola, Xiaomi

Misfit Flash Link is $20 smart button

Let's start with Xiaomi - its ridiculously cheap fitness trackers have sold millions in Asia and for good reason. The Mi Band isn't the most accurate but it's light, comfortable and can give you useful stats on when you've been more or less active. The $16 and less model isn't going to really be replicated but it means that rivals need to step up what they are offering.

Misfit is also almost giving away fitness trackers - the Flash Link is $20 and it has done an admirable job in slashing the prices of all its trackers as new ones become available. What it charges for is refined style, fashion collaborations and new features, like smart home controls and alert vibrations on a device that lasts six months, as in the Shine 2.

As for Pebble and Motorola, we simply think they are selling great smartwatches at decent prices. Pebble's range now goes from $99 to $250 - and it seems to be constantly offering discounts. Motorola offers a customisable Android Wear watch but the absolutely most expensive model is still reasonable at $450.

SQUARE - Huawei, Guess

Android Wear could be iOS bound

Two examples of how our 'pay for fashion brands, not tech brands' rule above isn't quite working. The Huawei Watch is a genuinely classy Android Wear watch but for all Huawei's Karlie Kloss ad campaigns, we're intrigued to see how many people will buy an expensive accessory from the company most know as the maker of mid-range smartphones.

The entry level Watch is $50 too much and $799 is plain daft, no matter the finish. What Huawei needed was a fashion brand partnership not a supermodel.

In the Guess case, we are referring to the Guess Connect, which is powered by Martian tech. It's a Guess Rigor watch with a small, Martian style monochrome screen on the face and a module inside. But at $379it's double the price of the 'dumb' Rigor and $100 more than Martian's own premium fashion range. Too much.


New Gear VR works with all Samsung phones

The Gear S2 shows how far Samsung has come since the Galaxy Gear in prices as well as hardware and UI design. Yes, the Gear S2 Classic is $349 but Samsung has seen sense and priced the regular Gear S2 at $299. That's cheaper than the cheapest Apple Watch, slightly more expensive than the cheapest Moto 360 2.

Now Samsung just has to support it and make sure its Tizen app store grows rather than just fling out another expensive device in 2016.

The consumer Gear VR is also nice and affordable considering what it offers - a comfortable, wireless, mobile VR headset with Oculus software that's much nicer to use than dipping in and out of Cardboard apps. The headset is $99 in the US, we don't have prices for the UK and Europe yet but if it's a straight swap at £99 then that's fair. Anything less is a bonus.

You can buy cheaper smartwatches than the Gear S2 and cheaper mobile VR headsets than the Gear VR but in both cases, the prices aren't outrageous and the tech is genuinely a cut above budget devices.

What do you think?

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