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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 dgingerich on 9/5/2013 5:26:20 PM , Rating: 4
Tablets had been tried several times, too, and until recently, had failed. The technology needed to catch up.

With smart watches, I anticipate the Samsung version failing miserably simply due to its form factor. It's too big, has to be turned on to read it, and is awkward to keep on the wrist. The Qualcomm will probably do well due to the form factor. It's small enough, thin enough, and charges easily enough that it would probably do what people want it to do. All I would want from one would be something to show the time, phone call ID, and receiving text messages and emails. (I frequently get emails on my work iPhone, but never respond to them using the iPhone. I use my computer to respond, if it is needed. Frequently, the text or email is just a bit of information someone is sending me to do a task, like an IP address or location for something. I would like just the read-only aspect for that because that is frequently all I need to do.) Qualcomm's low power e-ink like display that stays on all the time is exactly what something like this would need. The active screen of the Samsung is a horrible idea. Finally, separating the battery and the main display is a great idea, in that it allows a more watch-like fit. That Samsung just weighs too much in one location, and is just too thick and clunky.

As for the crystal, I'd expect something like this could come with an artificial sapphire face plate. My $80 watch has that feature. I would expect a smart watch would certainly get that much.


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