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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.  

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.

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 91TTZ on 9/6/2013 11:13:21 AM , 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.

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.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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