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Video: inPulse thinks it’s time for wearable displays

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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.

7 Responses to “Video: inPulse thinks it’s time for wearable displays”

  1. Kevin. Glad you did this mini review. They have updated the styling – very nice even though I find the getinpulse too thick and obvious on my wrist. Somehow that is OK with analog watches, but not with these displays. The Inpulse by far coolest feature is “design your own watch face” and they have some pretty nifty designs no their website. OK, what next? You exclude the Liveview but according to some most of its glitches have been overcome. I’d like to see a true comparison of daily usage scenario of the MetaWatch, the WIMM One, the InPulse, the i’m Watch, and how about that Fossil manufactured SonyEricsson MBW-150 which is the one I’ve been using over the past few years.

  2. Kevin, so far, which one is your favorite: inPulse or MetaWatch? How long does the battery on the inPulse last? I do like the convenience of these types of devices but I am having trouble choosing.

  3. The whole design of watch vs. phone/tablet ATM is upside down. The watch should be the 3G device, and should be able to allow full phone capabilities (including headset like, putting it next to your ear) as well as mobile Android notifications for all services which the user is registered to.
    The bigger devices whether today’s smartphone or tablet should connect to the watch (rather than the other way around as today) with BT. Adding these bigger screen will allow for more interaction. It challenges Android with a 3rd small app screen.

    • Tal, I like your vision, but the reality is: we can’t get all of that functionality in a wearable size yet AND still have a battery large enough to power it through the day. That will change over time, but until then, the smartphone is the “smarts” behind the watch. ;) We also have an input challenge for something watch sized…. those two issues are forcing the solutions we have today IMO.

  4. Is there any option to warn if the watch and phone get too far apart? I’m thinking that if I am about to leave the house without my phone the watch might provide some notice that the signal was lost letting me know that I might not have my phone; or if someone stole it.