The market for smart watches and wearable displays is growing if you look at the number of companies trying to crack this space. The latest of these products to cross my desk is the inPulse smartwatch, which starts at $149. Similar to its peers, the inPulse acts as a secondary display for a BlackBerry(s rimm) or Android(s goog) smartphone, showing information at a glance, such as emails, text messages and caller ID.
Since the inPulse relies on a smartphone for these notifications, it has to stay connected to the handset for maximum benefit. Using a wireless Bluetooth connection, the watch and phone communicate in real time. There are third-party apps that can be installed on the inPulse — one lets you check in to a place on Facebook, for example — but the watch has very limited storage space, so you can’t load it up with dozens of software titles.
Aside from running apps, the inPulse’s two main features — telling time and providing notifications from a smartphone — work very well. There’s little to no delay between when the connected smartphone receives a message and when it appears on the smartwatch. The single button interface is easy to use for navigation as well: Tap once to move through menus; tap and hold to select an item.
The easy-to-configure wireless connection range is also solid, and that’s key. I routinely had connection issues when using a Sony(s sne) Ericsson(s eric) Live View watch, but no such issues with the inPulse. I also like the color OLED display, which gives the watch some pizzazz over the MetaWatch, a similar device I recently reviewed.
However, the watch is fairly thick and possibly too bulky for some, and I noticed some glitches when trying to change watch faces. After downloading one on my Nexus One smartphone and having it pushed over to the inPulse, I couldn’t get any additional watch faces installed. The same applied to installing applications. I found that I had to do a factory reset of the watch on a few occasions as a result.
That’s not a situation most consumers will want to face, so hopefully, the experience will prove more stable in the future. All in all, however, the inPulse is a nice take on a new type of wearable display: one that provides plenty of benefit by helping manage smartphone notifications.