BERLIN: CHIP DESIGNER Qualcomm took the wraps off a smartwatch at IFA on Thursday, rivalling the Asian technology giants Sony and Samsung, the latter of which unveiled its own smartwatch at the German trade show earlier this week.
Working in the same way as Sony's Smartwatch 2 and Samsung's Galaxy Gear, the Toq, which is actually pronounced "talk" as opposed to "tock", hooks up to any Android device running Android 4.0.3 and above, and syncs data such as calls and text messages from the phone straight to the wrist to bridge the gap between your wrist and your pocket.
We got a quick demo of the wearable device at IFA this week, where Qualcomm's senior director of product management Shane Dewing allowed us to poke and prod at the latest build of the Toq smartwatch to see how it works.
Qualcomm's Toq communicates with Android devices via Bluetooth. Although many of the average smartphone functions aren't available directly through the watch, it is more of an extension of the smartphone, working in conjunction with an app to display events, text messages and call notifications, as well as other smart bits and bobs like displaying the weather and controlling music.
Quacomm couldn't tell us the size of the screen, but we know that it's a Mirasol display, similar to E-ink, which means that it's visible in brightly lit conditions. During our demo, Dewing held the watch up towards the window and we saw how the display seemed to absorb the light as opposed to reflecting it.
Below and above the screen are two touch-sensitive buttons that we assume work by haptic feedback technology. Touching the one at the top turns on the backlight, which seemed fairly bright in our demo, though not as bright as Samsung's Galaxy Gear. The button below the screen takes the watch back to the homescreen.
The Toq user interface looks more sophisticated than that of the Galaxy Gear, with more options to choose from. It also seems more simple to use and on first try it became clear which icons achieved what, unlike the Samsung Galaxy Gear that confused us a little at first.
Qualcomm said that the watch will take around an hour and half to charge and last for about three to four days before it needs recharging. The most interesting thing here is that the watch's rechargeable battery is charged wirelessly via a charging dock.
Dewing was keen to point out that our demo model wasn't the final build version of the Toq, so there were some slight software issues remaining when it was being shown to us. For instance, Dewing explained that the home screen face of the watch is interchangeable - done via the app on the phone and then synced across to the watch - but in our demo this function didn't seem to work. Surely Qualcomm will resolve this in the final build of the product. However, other than this little glitch, the watch was fluid and responsive to the touch, opening its various screens quickly.
Design and build
Comparing the Toq to the recently launched Galaxy Gear watch, it definitely has a more premium feel, which is reflected in its price. Dewing said that Qualcomm will offer limited sales of the Toq online sometime this year to get an idea of customer demand, with initial stock retailing for around $300.
Dewing didn't let the Toq smartwatch stray far from his wrist during our demo, but we did manage to convince him to take it off so we could get an idea of its size and weight. The exact weight is unknown, but when we held it in our hands it felt quite light, weighing much less than Samsung's Galaxy Gear.
A feature we found rather interesting about the Toq was the position of the battery, which sits within the clasp, allowing the face of the watch to be much slimmer and flat against the wrist.
Qualcomm said it is in talks with OEMs regarding future sales. We'll have more on the Toq when we get our hands on a review unit. µ