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Techilicious: Smartwatches that double up as car keys and more

Smartwatches that double up as car keys, solar-powered phones, and other innovations

brunch Updated: Mar 22, 2015 13:32 IST
Rajiv Makhni

Last week, I took you through some of the best smartphones that were showcased at the Mobile World Congress. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Today, we dive in for more.

A notch above: LG Urbane
LG already had one of the best smartwatches, the LG Watch R. The upgrade, the LG Watch Urbane, has come surprisingly soon and is better. It’s as classy as any luxury watch and uses premium material.

Weighing 45gms, the face is a 1.3” P-OLED display with 320x320 resolution and runs Android Wear. The LTE version has a heart-rate sensor, Gvoice, microphone and speaker, plus a virtual fitness coach with GPS to track running and cycling. There’s also an Audi Urbane version that acts as a key to your Audi car. Yes, you start and shut down your car with your watch!

Going into Zen mode: Asus ZenWatch

Asus carries forward the success of its sub-brand, Zen, by adding a ZenWatch. This one has a squarish AMOLED 1.63", 320x320 display with a 278ppi.

It’s water-resistant, features Gorilla Glass 3 and a polymer 1.4Wh battery lasting about a day. The watch runs Android Wear, and goes straight into generic territory. And therein lies the problem. Most Android Wear watches do much the same thing – pull notifications from your phone.

In good company: Huawei watch
The Huawei Watch takes inspiration from the likes of Moto 360 and LG Watch R, and thus features a circular 1.4” AMOLED display with Sapphire crystal glass.

The watch is stainless steel, available in Silver, Black and Gold and is outfitted with sensors like a gyroscope, accelerometer, barometer, a heart-rate monitor and a 6-Axis motion sensor to detect if a user is walking, running, biking, hiking or sleeping. It also offers 40 watch faces. The differentiators run out of steam here. It also runs Android Wear.

Sharp focus: Asus ZenFone 2

The ZenFone range from Asus has a simple two-step USP: Low price and good specs. The ZenFone 2 continues down that path but this time it focuses on the optical aspect. Asus claims it can capture images in next-to-no light with its 13MP rear camera and a front-facing 5MP shooter. It also has a 5.5", 1080P IPS display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and is available in 5 colours.

Sunny side up: Kyocera Solar
Kyocera is one of the world’s largest manufactures of solar panels. It’s a surprise they took so long to port the technology to other devices. This prototype phone features a 4.5” HD display, an 8MP camera on the back, a 2MP camera on the front and 3100 mAh battery.

It’s pretty run of the mill. What’s interesting is the ‘Wysips’ crystal display built right into the screen, that can generate energy. At the moment, it can give you only 1 percent per hour. But final devices may bump that up to about 20 per cent more battery through the day.

Living a dual life: Lenovo Vibe Shot
The point-and-shoot camera market is dead, ironically because of camera phones. But most phones don’t have the capabilities of a point-and-shoot. Lenovo is merging the two. From the front, the Vibe Shot looks like a smartphone with 5” full HD display. But flip it and it looks surprisingly similar to a point-and-shoot.

The metal band doubles as a grip while the 16MP sensor is made up of a six-piece lens and delivers photos that are comparable to (and sometimes better than) an expensive camera. There is also a tri-colored flash that helps light the scene evenly and optical image stabilisation to keep things steady. All in all, Lenovo may well have hammered the final nail into the point-and-shoot coffin.

Bowing out: Sony

Almost confirming the rumour that it is out of the smartphone market, Sony did not come up with its next generation of smartphones. What it did showcase was another upgrade to its tablet range. This is the Z4 tablet, a continuation of the Z series of tablets. Right off the bat, the super sharp 10.1" 2K display immediately hits you hard.

This tablet continues the tradition of being dust-resistent and waterproof. On the back is a 8.1MP rear camera and on the front is 5.1MP camera. There is a 6000mAh battery along with several audio features such as noise cancellation and optimized headphone output. Sony maybe on its way out but it’s going out with a bang!

In my next column, a deep analysis of the Apple Watch; should you buy it, is there a market for a $10,000 watch, how the new Macbook stole the headlines from the Apple Watch and why you should be excited about that than anything else.

(The series is now concluded)

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, March 22

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