Every kid who read Dick Tracy comics was enthralled with that amazing watch. Imagine seeing your friends on your wrist while you talked! Well, forget about a video screen, but manufacturers are readying hip PDA- and even PC-functioning watches this spring. Good enough for now to satisfy the detective lurking in all of us.

Fossil Wrist PDA and Wrist PDA/PC, early 2002, expected retail $145 Pros: Bold statement for the techie set from a hot, cutting-edge watch company. Stores 1,100 contacts, 800 appointments, 5,000 to-dos, or 350 memos. Cons: You can’t type info into the watch, but must beam the information from a Palm or Pocket PC device. Bottom line: It’s cool to be at the cutting edge of wearable technology, but will PDA users want a smaller one? More info: www.fossil.com/PDA
Seiko Wrist Companion in prototype form with release date pending, no price yet. Pros: PDA, cell phone, and e-mail connection all in one trim device. Cons: This first version transmits from existing devices (via Bluetooth infrared technology); that means you need a Bluetooth-enabled phone or computer. Bottom line: The streamlined body and e-mail
capability, plus potential cell phone use,make this virtual personal information gatekeeper very attractive. The only question is when? More info: www.seiko.com
IBM’s WatchPad in prototype form with consumer release date pending, no price yet. Pros: A PDA plus a controller for your PC that can handle text, photos, and animation. IBM collaborated
with Citizen to design the watch while IBM does the software. Cons: Uses Bluetooth to connect to the PC, so you’ll need to be compatible. Bottom line: With a clear, crisp screen and the power of IBM Research behind it, this could be worth waiting for. The problem is no one will say how long (or short) the wait will be. More info: www.trl.ibm.com/projects/ngm/index_e.htm