Smartwatches: Eat your heart out, Dick Tracy!

It was ALL IN THE WRIST when comic strip artist Chester Gould first outfitted Dick Tracy with that two-way radio-watch back in 1946. And it's still all in the wrist today, as manufacturers try to dazzle us with new gadgets. Yahoo tech columnist David Pogue takes their measure.

This story was originally broadcast on March 23, 2014.

The history of computers has been a steady march towards smaller. Computers were once the size of rooms, then the size of TV sets, then the size of phones.

In fact, computers are now so small, they can nestle quite nicely on your wrist. Eat your heart out, Dick Tracy!

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There are currently 300 apps for the Sony SmartWatch 2 (left). The Fitbit band (right) monitors your health and transmits data about your activity and sleep to your phone.
CBS/Sony/Fitbit

"One good way to think about it is a companion for your smartphone," said Mark Spoonauer, the editor-in-chief of Laptop magazine, "'cause a lot of us look at our phone up to 100 times a day. So a smartwatch could actually save you time."

Spoonauer has reviewed most of the first smartwatches. He showed Pogue the Pebble Steel, to which you can directly download apps from the Pebble AppStore or iTunes.

"There are some big names behind it, like CNN, ESPN and Yelp," said Spoonauer.

You can receive texts (but not send them). "That's why it's more of a companion and not a replacement to your smartphone," said Spoonauer.

There are currently 300 apps available for the Sony SmartWatch 2, including Facebook.

You probably haven't seen a lot of smartwatches on real people's wrists. So far, there's been more hype around smartwatches than sales.

Maybe that's because they're still so bulky -- it's like wearing a VCR on your arm -- or that they need charging every couple of days.

Or maybe because they're unnecessary. I mean, your phone is right here. How much effort do you really save having its functions on your wrist?

But in one area, wrist electronics make tremendous sense: monitoring your health. The FitBit band tracks your activity during the day, and your sleep at night; it sends graphs to your phone, wirelessly.

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