Archos, the company better known for inexpensive tablets, is also looking to get into the market of similarly inexpensive smartwatches. At CES this year, the company unveiled three smartwatch models, one of which will be priced as low as $50.
Archos is dialing back on features, compared to competitors like Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, though luckily it doesn’t seem to be sacrificing quality to achieve a lower price point. Apple Insider got to spend some time with the new watches, and they actually look quite nice. Physically (and somewhat functionally, it seems) I’m reminded of Pebble. The watches are fairly minimalist, and will work with both Android(s goog) and iOS(s aapl) devices. The idea here is that the watch will be a companion to your device, rather than a substitute. You get a standard watch screen, but you’ll also be able be able to view phone messages and notifications, and control music playback. Some models will have additional features like stopwatch functionality and weather forecasts, but there’s no plans for an app store like you’ll find with the Pebble or Galaxy Gear.
The biggest thing Archos has going for it is price. The highest-end model costs $129 (a basic Pebble, for comparison, costs $150). That gets you an always-on, 1.8-inch curved E Ink display with up to one and-a-half weeks of battery life. I’m not so sure about the mid-range, model, however. That one costs $100 and features a 1.8-inch color LCD touch screen. But it also only lasts for up to two days on a charge, and I think that inconvenience will ultimately overshadow any of the benefits it provides.
I’m most excited about the lower-end $50 model, and not just because it’s so cheap. That model features a 1.55-inch black-and-white LCD, which is good for up to two weeks of battery life. When it comes to wearables, I think good battery life is one of the most important features. We already have phones we need to remember to charge every day; I just can’t see people willing to do the same for a watch. And for $50, I think this model might be a good way for many people to test the smartwatch waters, before deciding on a higher-end device down the line.
Archos probably thinks this too. The company plans to launch its smartwatch line this summer, with the $50 model becoming available first. The more expensive models will be released at some point in the months after.