MW Mobile Blog

For friends, family and the random search engine visitor. This blog started as an experiment in mobile blogging from my Palm TREO 600 700 Prē HTC Evo,Samsung 5. Now it serves as a simple repository of favorite activities. Expect bad golf, good fishing, great sailing, eating, drinking, adventure travel, occasional politics and anything else I find interesting along the way including, but not limited to, any of the labels listed here...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Coolest Smartwatch

When big and clunky was cool.
It is on. Samsung and Qualcomm introduced their first entries in "wearable" technology today. The two new smartwatches join the fray with previously announced entries from Sony and the kickstarted Pebble.  I'm not exactly sure why they felt they needed to get these products into the public eye now, considering that neither will be available to purchase until later this year. You don't suppose next week's Apple announcement has something to do with it? The tech press is not expecting Apple to announce their iTime or whatever they'll call it, but maybe Apple's competitors know something that the press doesn't.  In any case, Samsung got most of the attention with fawning reviews like this piece in TechCrunch:

"Your Turn, Apple"

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"I’m sold. One picture did it. The one above by Josh Miller at CNET. I want the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch. It doesn’t matter if the UI is sluggish. I don’t care if it requires charging once a day. I don’t even care if Samsung overloaded it with applications, which seems to be the case. I’m not going to buy it. But my inner nerd really wants it. The Galaxy Gear watch is hot, even if it has a critical flaw. Samsung just beat Apple to the punch by a large margin. But that should be expected. Samsung is a different company than Apple. Samsung iterates where Apple innovates."
Watching the hoopla, I was reminded of the first smartwatch - the HP-01.  I was working for Hewlett Packard in 1977 when they introduced it. Unsurprisingly, HP completely failed at marketing a high-end consumer product that retailed for $700.  By '79 they gave up and blew out the remaining inventory to employees for about $100. That must have been when I got mine. Pretty sure I would not have paid full retail for it. I was just as cheap then as I am now.

After an extended archaeological search, I found it. In the back of a drawer that had not been opened in decades.  I remember thinking it was the coolest thing on the planet when it was new. I wore it all the time. It was quite the conversation piece. You could put a girl's phone number into the phone's memory. Of course, there was only enough memory for one phone number at a time. You had to be judicious with a watch like this. Since the display is comprised of power burning LEDs, when you pushed the button the time or date was displayed for only 2.5 seconds. You've got to pay attention with a watch like this. 

My favorite bit -  A 200 year calendar!  Right in the watch!  This being 1977, with the watch using the conventional eight digit date display (LED's are expensive), HP had to figure out a way to distinguish 1909 (the year after the Cubs last won the World Series) and 2009 (when they also did not win).  So there is a "21" button on the watch. You need the button to tell the watch you are entering a 21st century date.

As I recall, the coolness factor lasted about a month.  Then it was just big and clunky. I liked it and kept wearing it though, until the batteries finally wore out. You had to take it to a jeweler to change the batteries. Never quite got around to it. It went back into the box, moved across the country, and made it into the back of that drawer where I found it today.

I took it to a jeweler down the street, expecting to find a corroded mess when he opened it up. Those dead watch batteries were in there for over 30 years. But - a miracle. The batteries were intact. In five minutes, with three fresh batteries, the watch was working again. 

It looks like big and clunky is cool again. Sooo...  I'll be wearing this watch again.  I'm pretty sure I've got the coolest smartwatch on the planet. Hey -  I just pushed the date button and for 2.5 seconds it said "09-04-13."  That dot at the end is to let me know that this is the 21st century. Way cool.


Cross-posted at Medium

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