- Editor's Rating
When somebody calls your smartphone, it’s often desirable to see the caller’s name (if it’s in your contact list) or number (if the caller hasn’t blocked it), so decide whether to take it, let it go to voice mail, or reject it. But it’s not always convenient to pull out your smartphone to look.
If you’re in a car with Bluetooth phone features, you can check there. But if you aren’t — when you’re in a meeting, riding a bike, exercising (in a place where phone calls aren’t allowed), then maybe you’d like some other display/control option.
Like, say, something you’d wear on your wrist. Perhaps a watch.
There’re a handful of Bluetooth watches available, including the Sony Ericsson Liveview watch micro display for Android Devices 2.1 and Up ($69.99 on Amazon), the Goldlantern GL Men’s 1GB Bluetooth Bluex Men’s MP3 Watch With Headset (MSRP $399.95), the Newdmall Triband Steel Watch Mobile Phone with Wireless Bluetooth Headset and 1gb Card (MSRP $349.99) and the MobileWear Stainless Steel MobileWear Caller ID Watch (MSRP $350.00). Some of these are more than just a remote control/display for telephony, also controlling music functions, offering storage, etc.
And there’s the Bluetooth Watch with Caller ID Display from ThinkGeek.com ($79.99).
(I don’t think that ThinkGeek is the original vendor for these, but there no manufacturer or vendor information anywhere — not on the product, the packaging, the included paper instructions, or the online doc. So I’ll call it the ThinkGeek Bluetooth Watch — unfair to ThinkGeek, I admit, in this case.)
Sadly, I can’t recommend it, either as a watch or as a smartphone accessory.
DESIGN & BUILD
This accessory is large and solid — 2 inches by 1 and 3/4 inches by half an inch — far from a “lady’s watch.” With its stainless-steel case, it’s got the size and heft of a hiker’s watch — or a low-end personal defense object. The timekeeping part of the watch is classic hour/minute/second-hand analog, battery powered rather than stem-wound.
Charging is done via a proprietary cable with two small pins that clip to leads in the back of the watch. The other end is Bluetooth, and there’s also an A/C-to-Bluetooth charger. The charge is supposed to last for 8 days in standby. The documentation doesn’t say whether this is also powering the time function — so power up before any short trips, and be sure to bring the charge cable on long ones.
Of the three buttons, only the center button is for time aspects — to change the time. There are no other time functions — not completely surprising for an analog watch, but not even an alarm.
The digital aspects of the watch present as a small 96x16pixel OLED display area, dark by default, and two buttons, MENU and SELECT below and above the center time button. (All three are on the right edge of the watch.)
According to the ThinkGeek product page and/or the posted documentation page, the ThinkGeek Bluetooth Watch’s capabilities include:
- When you get a call on the phone you’ve Bluetooth-paired the watch with, the watch vibrates, and the caller’s name or number displays, and you can either accept or reject the call, and you can mute the phone ringer.
- With some phones (“mostly Sony Ericcson,” per the product web page), when your phone gets an SMS/text message, again with the vibrating, and the text-alert icon will show.
- You can review your phone’s address book on the watch OLED display
Sadly, the Bluetooth components do not work reliably.
On the second review unit, I’ve only been able to get it to pair and connect to my iPhone 4 twice, out of a dozen or more tries. That’s not good enough, to put it mildly.
It doesn’t help that the documentation is woefully inadequate — it’s in badly-translated fractured English, and is missing key information to boot. For example, it’s not clear which icon representation on the watch is “highlighted.” Examples in the documentation would clarify this.
During the two sessions where I was able to pair-and-connect, when my iPhone 4 got a call, the watch did, as promised, vibrate, and display — the name in my iPhone’s contacts, if it was in there, otherwise, the caller’s phone number.
So if you’re looking for a single-function watch that Bluetoothly pairs with your smartphone and can display caller name-or-number info, let you take/reject calls, and alert you when you’ve gotten a text message… I’d keep looking. Your luck might be better than mine. Or it might not.
And even if you got a ThinkGeek Bluetooth Watch that worked reliably, the watch’s current-time-only capability begs the question of what you’re wearing a watch for. (I know that many people today don’t, they look at their phone to get the time.) My $30 ten-year-old (I’m guessing) Casio digital wristwatch also shows me the month/date/year, acts as my travel alarm clock, has a stopwatch and timer… and works in the shower or underwater. Can your smartphone do all this? Are you ready to wear two watches?
Given that I already have a watch I like, I’d love an add-on Bluetooth display control that snuggs around my watch — if it worked reliably, that is.