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  (Source: AnandTech)
Qualcomm boasts five times the battery life of Samsung's device, plus more vibrant display

Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KSC:005930) announcement of the $300 USD Galaxy Gear smartwatch was met with mixed reactions yesterday.  Many questioned the appeal and utility of the form factor in general (why carry one more device?).  They backed these criticism, pointing to a long history of poorly selling smartwatch designs, such as the ones Seiko (Holdings Corp. (TYO:8050)) sold in the 1980s.

Others still weren't entirely dismissive of the smartwatch, but took issue with Samsung's choice to use a power-hungry 800 MHz Exynos core, a decision that reduced battery life to a day at best.

For that "on the fence" segment, Qualcomm, Inc.'s (QCOM) announcement of the Toq (pronounced "Talk") smartwatch may interest you.  

Toq
Qualcomm Toq smartwatch [Image Source: AnandTech]

Here's a quick rundown of what is known and announced with Toq:
  • Price: $300
  • Release Date: Q4 2013
  • Processor: 200 MHz Cortex M3
  • Display:
    • 1.5-1.6 inches
    • Mirasol (E-INK like display) 
  • Battery:
    • Large
    • In a separate band component
  • Battery Life:
    • Max:     5 days
    • Typical: 3 days (moderate to heavy use)
  • Wireless:
    • stereo Bluetooth (serial, Alljoyn)
    • charging (WiPower LE case -- drop the watch on its case to charge)
  • Other: Water resistant
Like Samsung's Galaxy Gear, Toq acts as a second screen for your smartphone, allowing you to scan texts, emails, control music, without the "herculean task" of taking your smartphone out of your pocket.  But unlike Samsung, Qualcomm is looking to make the device cross platform, with iOS support coming (according to Engadget).


Qualcomm CEO Dr. Paul Jacobs comments:

Toq's always on, always connected, always visible wearable technology gives you a 'Digital 6th Sense,' telling you what you need to know, when you need to know it, with just a glance at your wrist or a whisper in your ear. Toq is a showcase for the benefits of the Mirasol display, WiPower LE and stereo Bluetooth technologies and highlights the experience that the wearable category can provide.

The highlight of the watch is its Mirasol display, a special reflective display technology Qualcomm has been developing.  First announced in 2012 Mirasol was inspired by the chemistry of butterfly wings and consumes significantly less power than traditional LCD screens.  Like E-INK it is sharp and crisp outdoors (like a pritned page) where even backlit LCDs can look washed out.

Mirasol
Don't tell PETA about how many butterflies must have died to make Qualcomm's latest display.

Combined with the low-power processor, Qualcomm is promising a much better battery life than Samsung.  While not traditionally a device maker, Qualcomm says it made the device as a proof of concept for the Mirasol technology.  Rob Chandhok, president of Qualcomm Internet Services and Qualcomm Innovation Center, told CNET in an interview, "We're not trying to be a consumer electronics company, but we do want to make a statement about what we think features and characteristics of successful wearable computing [are] going to be."

The Qualcomm smartwatch isn't shipping until Q4, and will only ship in limited quantities this year -- so Samsung (and Apple, Inc. (AAPL)?) may have the lead in bringing product to the market.  But the Qualcomm watch certainly brings some unique features to the table.

Sources: Qualcomm, AnandTech, CNET, Engadget



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RE: Useless
By Reclaimer77 on 9/5/2013 4:02:44 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Smart watches have been tried, and tried, and tried, only to always come to the same disastrous conclusion. I imagine very few people see the need in carrying yet another device around.


That's because the technology hasn't been there yet. We're just now getting to the point of component miniaturization and efficiency where things like this start to make sense.

Also you're not lugging around a watch, you wear it.

I think something is wrong with a tech enthusiast who blows off things like Google Glass and Smart Watches offhand. What a lack of vision, seriously.

quote:
Unless these comes with gorilla glass (I doubt it)


Uhh Gorilla glass is thinner, lighter, and stronger than regular glass. Wtf wouldn't these use Gorilla glass?


RE: Useless
By Shig on 9/5/13, Rating: 0
RE: Useless
By Reclaimer77 on 9/5/2013 4:54:11 PM , Rating: 2
Pardon me?


RE: Useless
By 91TTZ on 9/5/2013 5:22:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I think something is wrong with a tech enthusiast who blows off things like Google Glass and Smart Watches offhand. What a lack of vision, seriously.


I think a tech enthusiast is allowed to blow off developments that he finds useless.

When the iPad came out I liked the idea of it. When the Surface RT came out I thought it was useless and would be abandoned. Some ideas are innovative whereas others are just half-assed attempts to seem innovative.


RE: Useless
By Solandri on 9/5/2013 5:46:28 PM , Rating: 2
It seems pretty obvious to me this is where computers are headed. First they were as big as a room, then as big as a desk, then they fit on top a desk, then they fit on your lap, and now they fit in your pocket. The next logical step is for them to shrink to something small enough that you could easily lose it if it's not strapped to your body. The watch is a time-proven strapped form factor.

The only major impediment to this shrinkage is display size. But with DLNA becoming more commonplace and people becoming more aware of its capability (you can stream movies from your phone to your TV), I think in a few years we're going to successfully decouple the display from the computer (which isn't really that big a change - they only became coupled with the advent of laptops, then PDAs/smartphones/tablets).

Your PC/phone/PDA will be strapped to your wrist. It will contain the CPU, RAM, storage, and networking, with a rudimentary display for simple phone and PDA-like tasks. Your "tablet" will be a 7"-11" display with no substantial computing capability - it will wirelessly connect to your watch and acts as a supplemental display for the watch. Your "laptop" will be a 12"-17" display and portable keyboard/mouse which also wirelessly connect to your watch.

In the far future, the computer will shrink even more. Maybe to the size of a ring you can wear on your finger.


RE: Useless
By 91TTZ on 9/6/2013 11:13:21 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
It seems pretty obvious to me this is where computers are headed. First they were as big as a room, then as big as a desk, then they fit on top a desk, then they fit on your lap, and now they fit in your pocket. The next logical step is for them to shrink to something small enough that you could easily lose it if it's not strapped to your body. The watch is a time-proven strapped form factor.


I disagree. It's easy to see that the earliest technology is usually large and cumbersome, but you can't look at the size reduction and extrapolate that trend forever. After a certain point convenience takes over and the final form factor is the one which is the most convenient for its intended purpose. Since one of the main functions of a smartphone is the phone, that necessitates being able to talk into it. The other main function is that of a computer screen that you can look at. As you already pointed out, screen size becomes an issue. So the multifunction devices that we call smartphones need to satisfy a few basic requirements which put limits on their form.

If you noticed trends in phones, they have gotten larger, not smaller. The most popular phones now have larger screens than phones just a few years ago, and even those were larger than phones before that. But manufacturers have tried to extrapolate that trend and go even larger but that hasn't worked out, either, since it makes the device unwieldy.

I know people want to be "progressive" but they need to truly understand what progress is. Progress operates within practical constraints. When I see movies where they have people driving 3 wheeled cars in the future I laugh because such a configuration has problems with basic physics, such as flipping over when you hit the brakes and turn at the same time. It's just impractical at a fundamental level. Real progress occurs when things become better at being practical... devices become easier to use, more affordable, and more efficient.


RE: Useless
By blue_urban_sky on 9/6/2013 4:15:13 PM , Rating: 2
You're short sighted. It would make practical sense to decouple the display from the processing especially when tech reaches a level where a ring sized computer would serve your needs.


RE: Useless
By 91TTZ on 9/9/2013 9:49:22 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not short sighted at all. In fact the opposite is true. If you read my posts on here you'll see that I've consistently been accurate in my predictions while other people have been falling for the hype bandwagon over and over again.


RE: Useless
By Monkey's Uncle on 9/5/2013 8:40:00 PM , Rating: 2
I like that the battery life is good for 3-5 days. Not long enough IMHO, but better than Samsung's effort. The display tech I am a little on the fence about. e-Ink type displays are absolutely horrible at refresh speeds. They are fine for an e-book, but on a more dynamic display I fear these would suck donkey turds. I hope qualcomm tests that display refresh speed thoroughly. The Toq has one glaring omission compared to the Galaxy Gear -- the missing camera. That omission combined with the identical $300 price as the Samsung offering pretty much negates the value factor of the Toq.

Gorilla glass would be good on these, but sapphire would be far better. Sapphire is harder and more scratch resistant than gorilla glass. The only thing keeping sapphire off of phone and tablet displays is it is expensive to make at that size. Watches on the other hand are the perfect application for sapphire which is used for most high-end watch crystals today.


RE: Useless
By JPForums on 9/6/2013 9:56:37 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I like that the battery life is good for 3-5 days. Not long enough IMHO ...
I agree that 3-5 days isn't enough. If I'm going to wear a watch, I don't want to have to constantly worry about its battery level. I suppose I'd settle for a weekly charge, though I'd really prefer monthly.
quote:
The display tech I am a little on the fence about. e-Ink type displays are absolutely horrible at refresh speeds.
It's a good thing that its not e-Ink. What Mirasol has in common with e-Ink is that it is a reflective display technology. That said, how fast do refresh rates need to be for a device like this. While I'd prefer better response times, even e-Ink would be fast enough to show me a text message, caller info, or the time.
quote:
The Toq has one glaring omission compared to the Galaxy Gear -- the missing camera. That omission combined with the identical $300 price as the Samsung offering pretty much negates the value factor of the Toq.
With all due respect, I can't see the camera in the Samsung offering as useful for anything outside of espionage. There just doesn't seem to be enough room for proper optics and the form factor doesn't exactly scream control either. Even if it were perfectly usable, I'd still prefer a device like this that has a display that is readable in outdoor lighting conditions over one with a camera. Mirasol does seem to fit this better than an actively lit display.
quote:
Gorilla glass would be good on these, but sapphire would be far better.
I totally agree here, but it probably won't happen until the traditional watch manufacturers decide to make smart watches.


RE: Useless
By Monkey's Uncle on 9/6/2013 8:05:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
With all due respect, I can't see the camera in the Samsung offering as useful for anything outside of espionage. There just doesn't seem to be enough room for proper optics and the form factor doesn't exactly scream control either. Even if it were perfectly usable, I'd still prefer a device like this that has a display that is readable in outdoor lighting conditions over one with a camera. Mirasol does seem to fit this better than an actively lit display.


Thanks for the sensible replay.

The camera (appears to be on the band with the Samsung gear) doesn't look really any less capable than some of the 5MP cameras usually popped on the back of smart phones. Application wise I would find it less obtrusive to take a picture or video with the watch simply by holding up your arm toward the subject, framing it in the display and tapping to take the shot or control the video (you do have to hold your arm up and look at the watch's display). Seems a little less obtrusive than holding a phone up in your subject's face. Would be useful in situations where you don't want to look like a dweeb holding up your camera for a picture. It really is not just for espionage or locker-room spying.

Cost-wise, I can see a camera, wifi, active screen and higher-end processor in Samsung's (also overpriced) watch costing more to include. Simply building around a reflective-technology screen and a bigger battery really can't justify the Toq's $300 price tag. I would say that watch is worth $200 (and the Samsung valued at $250) max.

Don't get me wrong here. I really see no market need for a device like Samsung's Gear watch - especially with a $300 cost. I find the Toq more acceptable, but I find the price even less acceptable for what you get than Samsung's.


"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad














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