By now, most consumers should be aware that the humble wristwatch has become pretty smart. There have been smartphones and smart TVs so far, but manufacturers had waited this long for something as intimate as the watch to be given the smart treatment. Thankfully, it has happened, and the 2013 IFA has ample proof.
Here are the smart watches launched so far:
Samsung Galaxy Gear:
Made of stainless steel, this smartwatch offers a comprehensive set of features which even exceeds what many had expected. The device is only compatible with the latest crop of Samsung devices, such as the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Note 10.1. The company has announced that updates for Note 2, S4, and S3 are coming soon, which will make them compatible with the Galaxy Gear.
The Samsung smartwatch is also among the biggest, with a 1.63 inch Super AMOLED 320 x 320 display which suits its intended purpose well enough. The device can be considered an extension of the Samsung smartphone in that it displays notifications that otherwise can be seen only on the smartphone. This includes a preview of incoming messages, calls, texts, emails, and alerts, with the option for the user to accept or deny them right from the Gear itself. There’s no need to pull out the smartphone for this, but the notifications from the Gear will automatically be transferred to the smartphone via Smart Relay.
What’s more, the Galaxy Gear even includes a built-in auto-focusing camera of 1.9 megapixels which will let users shoot pictures and 720p videos, although they are only 10 seconds long. Interestingly, the camera is included in the wristband which makes for an innovative design feature. The camera is also designed to work in conjugation with the Memographer, which means users will have the option to take quick notes or voice memos. Users can transcribe the voice memos into text when needed. Other tech specs include a 800 mhz processor, 512 MB of RAM, and 4 GB of internal memory, all quite respectable considering the size and intended application of the device. Meanwhile, the Gear also boasts an accelerometer as well as a gyroscope, and can be used to control the music being played by the smartphone.
Samsung has also lined up a few apps specifically for the Gear. Predictably enough, there are fitness apps to begin with, which includes the RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal. Of course, there will be around 70 apps ready to be installed when the Gear goes on sale on September 25th. All of the above comes at a price, which stands at $299 and is higher than many of the entry level tablets out there.
However, price apart, what can be considered as the biggest complaint about the Gear is its dismal battery life. The 315mAh battery will tend to fizzle out by the end of the day under what the company claims as “regular use.”
Sony Smartwatch 2:
Curiously, it’s named Smartwatch 2 even though this marks the company’s third product in the smartwatch segment. Sony’s name is because it claims to be a second screen of your smartphone.
It features a 1.6 inch display that is lit up by 220 x 176 pixels. The display is big enough to house six apps at a time but can be scrolled to bring more on the display. Also, the display has been made sunlight-friendly, thanks to the use of a transflective panel, though it’s more monochrome in bright sunlight compared to a colored display indoors.
Made of aluminum, the Smartwatch 2 has a solid build quality. Also, another inherent advantage of the Sony smartwatch is that it is waterproof (for up to 1 meter and 30 minutes). This can be helpful as users will be saved from fishing out their smartphones every time a new notification has arrived. All of those can be dealt with via the Smartwatch 2 itself.
For apps, Sony has devised what it has named as watch apps that are designed explicitly for the Smartwatch 2. There will be apps specific to the Smartwatch 2 that can be considered as “extensions” of the apps already present on the user’s smartphone. What this means is that users will get to keep a tab on their inbox, Facebook status updates, or Twitter feeds, right from the smartwatch itself.
As for its battery, Sony claims the Smartwatch 2 will be good enough to support 3-4 days of operations. Availability is pegged at around the end of September and is priced at 179 euros.
No one expected Qualcomm to launch a smartwatch, and bearing a name as weird as Toq. The device, though, is quite impressive, even when lacking many of the frills seen on the Galaxy Gear. However, the Toq enjoys many advantages over the Gear in that it is not tied to a single smartphone brand but can be connected to any Android device running version 4.0.3 and above. However, company sources did mention the Toq won’t remain tied to only the Android platform, as the smartwatch will soon be made compliant to the iOS as well.
The Toq comes with the Qualcomm Mirasol color display that is known for being extremely frugal on the battery. This clearly is one of the biggest advantages of the Toq, with its makers claiming a battery life of three to four days at the least. It is easily readable even in bright sunlight and is always on, features that make it more akin to the regular watches that it intends to replace. The Toq can also be charged wirelessly using Qualcomm’s WiPower LE technology.
The Toq will be able to handle phone calls, messages, or reminders, along with other notifications. Qualcomm also stated the device will benefit from regular updates which will make it even smarter from time to time. The device is powered by a 200 Mhz Cortex M3 processor and is slated to reach markets in the 4th quarter, sporting a sticker price tag of $300. Also, a nice feature of the Toq is that it can be connected to wireless stereo headphones via the Bluetooth, but the device lacks a speaker or a microphone of its own.
Worth mentioning here, Seiko too has launched an e-ink based smartwatch. Catch up with the review here.
In the end, while three are just three smartwatches right now, both Apple and Google are slated to launch their own take on wearable computers in the coming months. In fact, with these being so closely tied to smartphones, every manufacturer with a smartphone in their products line up is expected to launch smartwatches sooner or later. What this means is that LG couldn’t be far from launching a smartwatch of its own to accompany the G2, and the same applies to Nokia, not to mention the cheap clones that are expected from Chinese manufacturers soon enough.