At first (second and third) glance, there's plenty to love in the idea of a watchphone -- and there's even more when you see how beautiful the LG's design is. It's a sleek window into a fully integrated future in which we don't carry our technology, but it becomes a seamless part of what we wear every day.
But does the device we've been waiting for for nearly 50 years live up to the dream? There's only one way to find out; call 'em in. I spent a week each with the LG GD910 and the Kempler & Strauss W Phonewatch. And, if you wanna know what happens when you actually have to use a watchphone, if you really wanna know I'll tell you right now: Watchphones (brace yourself) are one fantasy that should stay that way. Don't believe me? Here are three major strikes ag'in 'em:
Sorry, Not Small Enough
Small is one thing. Small enough to wear is another game entirely. If LG handed me a metal-and-tempered-glass candybar phone that weighed 3.2 ounces, I'd be sold. But if Movado tossed me a watch with that heft, not so much. Kempler's W, on the other hand, only weighs about 2.5 ounces -- much more doable -- but at a cost: its entire body (band included) is plastic. A happy medium is still MIA.
I know it's not fair to expect much from a screen that can't be any larger than a watchface, but them's the breaks. Dialing or typing a text message on either the LG's 1.43-inch or the W's 1.5-inch screens is positively murder. The two handsets have taken different routes to curb frustration, one vastly more successful than the other. First the bad: the W ships with a stylus accessory intended to help you navigate its touchscreen, which is resistive and requires a little extra oomph to use. (Great, one more thing to lose.) The LG's solution is infinitely more Tracy-like, yet still not ideal: the GD910 has voice-recognition software for simple calling commands, but can't take text dictation.
They'll Scorch Your Wrist
The more circuitry you cram into a small space, the more you want a tiny little thing to do as much as its full-grown cousin, the more you want it to be up-and-running all the time, the more it's going to heat up. When I first charged up both watches, I assumed the heat was more from the charging process than the device or battery itself. Yeah, no. During a 15-minute call, the back of both watches got uncomfortably hot. Guess the batteries aren't there yet.
So, what's the problem here? If you ask me, cellphone companies have been coming at this from the wrong angle, trying to turn phones into watches instead of watches into phones. To succeed, start with the form factor you want and go from there. Find a watch, one that's comfortable, and slowly (very slowly) add the cell radios, chips, and flash memory. Come on, if you can build an antenna into a shirt, you can do this. If there's microscopic, super-fast memory, you can do this.
The largest absent part of the puzzle is the battery. A watch battery alone can't provide the volts a cellphone needs to keep ticking, but lithium polymers are getting more compact and running cooler all the time. Cellphone-watch makers, just be patient. Perhaps the time will come.
It's okay if you're not there yet -- really. We've waited 50 years, another five more to get it right won't kill us. Promise.
Screw the screen, Project the image onto that huge blank surface you call a wrist. Then call it a watch-wrist.
I believe companies that make cell phones will innovate at the right time and make better ergonomics. When that happens, there may be a huge market for these types of cell phones.
nothing like putting the small amount of radiation right into the skin!
This sucks balls!!!! I really dont think watchphones are going to take off or anything cause i mean having a cell phone is still alot more comfortable than this thing!!!! this is way overhyped cell phones will still be the kings for a long time to come.
I think this could work just fine... with a reliable voice recognition software, who needs typing, you would only need to talk to your phone/wrist watch. :)
Why limit the real estate to a "wrist watch" size platform? Why not just keep the iPhone dimensions and mount it sideways on your forearm like space marines in sci-fi movies. Put some nice curves to it so it's ergonomic, OLED touch screen to keep the power usage down (and cool), an Atom processor (or whatever new processor they're working on that's decent with great power saving features) and you're all set.
I admit, it looks pretty geeky to begin with, but so is having a cellphone for a wrist watch, am I right?
hello mom?......mom?....why is no one answering!!!!!!!?
i'm pretty sure this is something that will be used primarily by the nerds of society... the same people who thought that using the calculator watches were neato.
More than twenty years ago I had the first of several Texas Instruments wristwatches that incorporated several features, including a built-in tritium light that allowed me to read it at all times. The last one I had would hold up to 250 phone numbers, as I recall, and when you selected one of the numbers a built-in quartz speaker would make the same touch-tone sounds you would get when dialing a "Touch-tone" phone. This was years before cell phones entered the market; if you wanted to make a call, you had to do it from a public phone, or from your home.
If you were at a public phone you would lift the receiver, insert some coins in the phone, and then hit the button on the watch to dial the number (back then, even local phone charges could add up). You would hold your watch up to the phone receiver, and the touch-tone sound would dial the number for you. It sounds clunky, but it was far more practical than it sounds. If I was calling my brother overseas, it could dial all 16 digits or whatever, and do it accurately-- I did not have to worry that I was misdialing and have to pay for a connection to a wrong number. I bought a similar watch for my brother so that he could call back to the US; virtually all calls he made were international calls.
I am sure there will be some people that will want to buy these new wrist phones, but what is far more likely to succeed are some kind of eyeglasses that incorporate phone features, stereo TV capability, movie playback, all the capabilities of today's PCs and more. Bluetooth can mean we can have most of the weight, complexity and expense in a pocket or purse, and avoid the likelihood of losing it, dropping it or otherwise damaging the most expensive and data-sensitive part of the system.
I think that this is being approached in entirely the wrong way, instead of trying to make a cell phone watch, lets try to make a bluetooth cellphone peripheral interface that happens to reside on one's wrist. That way one is not making the vain attempt at cramming all of the cell phone transmitters, batteries, processors, etc. into this tiny device, we just need the basics. I foresee capabilities ranging from things like simply being able to answer calls, to things like getting turn-by-turn directions on the wearer's wrist. This will be much easier to minimize in size.
is it not possible to make a watch that is a bluetooth device? So linking to the cell phone in your pocket, desk drawer, coffee table, etc, and from the watch you can take calls, make calls, view calendars, listen to voice mails, read texts and other simple stuff, so it becomes an accessory rather than a self contained phone?
I don't think it would catch on as a 100% replacement of a smart phone anyway, as if you could watch youtube on your wrist for a long time! A watch that syncs with my phone, good times. A watch that replaces my phone, sounds fun, but not realistic.
I agree that it is a fantasy that needs to stay that way.
I am a chimney sweep who is a popsci fan: www.scottyandsweep.com
its about 10 years too late
they should have put a wireless into a watch in `99 and left it at that, back when we got the first 50g phones with texting as an extra before anyone even USED txt and a phone was a phone that didnt need to even store contacts that you dialed the number to call
Are you kidding me? I've owned and used a watch phone from China for the past two years now. You can buy them there and use them on the GSM Network (AT&T and T-mobile). This isn't even new. Also, they don't heat up, have a 2 hour talk time, 6 hour standby, and include most features of a cell phone without excessive bulkiness.
I think LG is forgetting that a watch is still an accessory. I can't imagine any woman (or professional businessperson for that matter) wanting to wear that ugly, giant thing on her wrist. Make it prettier, and LG's female demographic might actually consider it. Otherwise, the only demographic they will be marketing to will still be the geeky Dick Tracy fan living in his parents' basement.
This reminds me of something out of Star Trek. I can see plenty of nerds lining up for these babies!
I can see this kind of technology becoming real popular in the Real Estate industry. Eventually you be able to use one of these to pull up all the information on a property as you drive by!