With the expanding interest in both wrist top computing and integrated fitness watches it is of little surprise that CES would be host to some interesting new product announcements. Magellan, widely known for their handheld and in-car GPS solutions, launched their Switch and Switch Up series of fitness watches in a pre-CES press release this past Friday.
As you might imagine, the functionality of both the Switch and Switch UP watches hinges on their use of integrated GPS technology. The Switch is the entry range model and is intended for use with runners and offers a high resolution 1.26 inch display, eight hour battery life, 50 m water resistance and GPS connectivity. That connectivity will provide the Switch with distance, route and speed information which can be cross-referenced with caloric use or data from ANT+ systems like heart rate monitors, bicycle speed/cadence sensors and foot pods. The Switch UP series will build on the base model by adding a barometer, altimeter, thermometer, vibrating alarms and a “quick release mounting system to easily transition between sports”. This modular ability will allow the user to remove the main unit from their wrist and mount it on the handlebars of a bicycle.
The concept of harnessing some of your cell phone abilities via a wrist top device is not new, but it is easily an expanding market prime for innovation and a killer product or two. Enter i’m Watch, the Italian designed and Android powered wrist top smartphone portal which is promising to be the world’s first “real smart watch”. The i’m Watch is a wristwatch-style device that houses a 1.5 inch touchscreen (240 x 240 resolution) allowing you to use your smartphone and its data connection to access weather, Twitter, Facebook, contacts, music and call control. The overall feel appears to be comparable to a current-gen iPod Nano but with a direct connection to your phone and tethered use of its data connection.
Big, bold and analog: this is the GW-3000, from the G-Shock Aviation line. Today we review the GW-3000B, the version with an orange dial and metal bracelet. Let’s get started with the basic features and measurements:
Available in blue or orange with a PVD case, and orange/white with a unplated steel case.
Tough solar power, 5 month power reserve
6-band atomic timekeeping, accurate to within 15 seconds per month if no signal.
Tough movement (this means the hands check and realign themselves if knocked out of place)
This year at CES, Casio brought along a promising prototype watch. Featuring Casio’s BLE (bluetooth low energy) technology this watch will be able to have bluetooth functionality without the dismal battery life we have seen in models from Sony Ericsson and LG. The watch is powered on a single watch-style coin battery and would connect to a smartphone allowing a host of features and 2-way communication. Expect call and email alerts, phone locating ability, global time sync, and expanded functionality from application support based within the phone’s OS.
While the watch shown here is still a prototype, its exciting to think of a Casio MR-G or Oceanus with these features. Presumably, your phone would need to be BLE compliant, which might require a new phone all together. This is massively exciting technology as the premise is taken directly out of science fiction and it could facilitate an entirely new feature set into a controller we are all very familiar with.
As a side note, we would like to congratulate Casio for winning the CES 2011 Design and Engineering Award for the recently upgraded Pathfinder PAW5000. Please check out our review of the PAW5000.
There’s been a lot of talk recently of using the new iPod Nano as a watch (the iWatch, as it’s being called), so I thought I’d pick one up and give it a try.
Music, audio books, and radio right on your wrist. If you already use a smart phone, this probably doesn’t impress you much, but if you don’t, you might like the convergence.
Easy time synchronization. Your computer probably calibrates its clock against a time server which, in turn, probably calibrates against an atomic clock. Every time you sync your iPod with your computer, the iPod’s time us updated, so it should stay pretty accurate as long as you sync it fairly regularly.
It’s relatively small. At .74 ounces and roughly 1.5″ square, it’s actually pretty compact by today’s watch standards.
Adequately functional. It has day/date on the face, and it also has a stopwatch and a countdown timer.
Configurable watch face. Choose between white or black.
Not water-resistant. Even an impromptu water fight might be enough to ruin your iWatch.
You have to remember to charge it. If you already sync your iPod frequently, this probably won’t be a problem, but if you don’t, charging your watch is just one more thing you will have to remember to do.
Not good in direct sunlight. Since it has a backlit screen, it’s very hard to read in direct sunlight. On the other hand, it works great in the dark.
Can’t just glance at the time. Checking the time means actually turning the iPod on. Since you have to reach over and hit a button anyway, it might be just as easy to pull out your phone.
You’re only supposed to use it in temperatures between 32° and 95°F (-20° to 45°C). That means no wearing your iWatch while shoveling snow in the winter or doing yard work in the summer — at least where I live.
Although using an iPod nano as a watch is definitely somewhat gimmicky, it actually worked better than I expected. If you’re someone who is really into watches, I doubt an iPod Nano would replace what’s already on your wrist or sitting on your dresser. But if you’re more into gadgets and music than timepieces, strapping an iPod Nano to your wrist might be the way to go. Just consider going with the cheaper 8GB version ($149) so if you smash the crystal (screen, I guess I should say) or get it wet, you can pick up another without too much regret.
Just announced at Basel is an interesting advance from Seiko: a bitmapped grey-scale E-ink display with 80,000 pixels and 300 dots per inch, comparable to a good laser printer. Claimed to be a real product and not just a concept, it has amazing promise for programmable, legible displays. Photo-accurate moonphase? Graphics of twilight? We've liked the E-ink watches we've seen so far, so this is tremendously interesting, and we'll be looking for a release date and price.
Also of note is the fact that each pixel can display four levels of grey — that's new on watches, though the Kindle and its ilk have had it for a while.
Without giving numbers, Seiko claims it uses 1% of the power previously required, so hopefully the battery life will be at least a year. I'm not fond of watches I have to recharge every week.
Are you a software developer who loves watches and is curious about hardware? Have you ever wanted a watch that you could hack on? If so, this might just make your day: the TI EZ430-Chronos. Produced as a promotion for the MS430 line of low-power microcontrollers from TI, it's a $50 kit for a fully programmable sport watch:
96-segment LCD driven by the MCU.
Onboard 3-axis accelerometer, just like the iPhone.
Today's review of the o.d.m. 3-touch digital, model SU101-3, is a bit unusual for Watch Report. We don't usually cover fashion watches, but the 3-touch is worth making an exception. Read on and see if you agree.
Touch-screen-controlled digital watch.
Available in four color combinations: the SU101-3 is a reverse LCD version with white-on-brown display.
Water resistant to 50m (165ft).
Polyurethane integrated strap with unique covered clasp.
Time, calendar, stopwatch, alarm, and world time functions.
If you like feature-rich digital watches, and have a Blackberry, the upcoming inPulse will probably make you very, very happy. It's a watch, but closely integrated with the RIM Blackberry via Bluetooth. Time, alarms, and more, all set via the Blackberry and displayed on the watch. It has a vibrate mode to alert you to new emails, SMS, alarms, or calls — basically a discreet remote display for your smartphone.
1.3" OLED display.
Communicates via custom app (via Bluetooth v2.0+EDR), so Blackberry is required.