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BW Businessworld

The Small Wonders

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Watch Your Wrist
If you can't bear to lose out on a single nano-second of activity on Facebook, Twitter, and email, wear the lot on your wrist, courtesy  Sony, who've created the SmartWatch to put what's happening on your smartphone within constant reach. You can see your text messages, and the weather. The SmartWatch only has a 1.3 inch screen so there's only so much you can do with it, but whatever is incoming, you won't miss it. There are various apps for different functions and you communicate with the watch using touch. It works with an Android phone and alerts you to a call, letting you answer it remotely if you're Bluetoothed adequately.  You need to install a special manager app from the Google Play store and a SmartWatch app. The two devices pair via Bluetooth. The SmartWatch has just been launched for $150 and may or may not make it to India. And, oh yes, the SmartWatch does indeed tell the time. 

All-Rounder
If you think a watch sitting on your wrist, doing many things your smartphone does, is a solution in search of a problem, you may be in a minority. Pebble, just such a watch, has raised more than $10 million and seen preorders for 85,000 on Kickstarter, a site where anyone can support a new idea with funds. Apparently, it has sold out, so you'll have to wait for a while to get your own Pebble. This Allerta watch has a 1.26-inch 144x168-pixel black and white e-paper backlit display and in red, white and black, looks rather good. It works with both iOS and Android devices and gets notifications for email, messages, and more. This little gadget can potentially be made to do anything because of an SDK released to allow anyone to develop apps for it — which it can run simultaneously. The idea is to put the most important apps you need right up front, within easy reach. Pebble can also be trendy as it allows you to download watchfaces to make it match your own style. It will cost $99, which isn't much. People love it before they've even got it.

Listen To The Time
The Apple iPod Nano kits, designed by Scott Wilson of Minimal Studios and put up on crowdfunding site Kickstarter, made an appearance two years ago, but are still popular. If you have a 6th or 7th generation Nano, head to lunatic.com and see if you fancy carrying your music on your wrist. You could also get it from Amazon for $52.  The LunaTik is a watchstrap kit that houses the Nano. Slip in the player into the protected slot using the little pins, and let it click into place. Then, just switch on your Nano and wear the accessory. It comes in silver, black and red. As the more recent Nano is nicely squareish, it looks smart. The LunaTik isn't the only Nano watch style accessory, there are many. But it is fairly popular.

Mouse Gets Touchy
With everything else going touch, why shouldn't the mouse follow the trend? Logitech decided to create a halfway mouse as it were; a gadget that still gives you the precision control of a mouse, but takes you part of the way to touch. There's no outright clicking involved, but rather, you touch, swipe and even scroll with your fingers as they rest on the surface. It takes a little getting used to as old habits die hard, but eventually it should feel a little more like the tablets and smartphones we are now getting more accustomed to rather than like old world tech. The mouse is also wireless, in keeping with usability trends today. The Touch Mouse M600 is shapely and comfortable enough to place your palm over.

Tap To Play
Nokia has a colourful surprise for everyone. You're beginning to see those bright pop blues and pinks and greens on a bunch of accessories. One of these is the Nokia Play 360, a portable speaker for your phone, MP3 player or any Bluetooth-enabled music device. The speaker, of nice and solid build, comes with a pouch. But it isn't that light. Say about the weight of a laptop battery adaptor. Enable Bluetooth on the device you'll use and pair with the speaker. The sound is decent for a speaker of that size. If you don't want to use Bluetooth, use the 3.5 mm cable. But there's another option that makes the speaker special — the near-field communication (NFC). Tap the phone on the speaker to get it connected. The speaker will play with an Android phone, a BlackBerry, the Nokia N8 and N9 — but not with the Lumia phones. In India, the Play 360 is priced at Rs 9,350.

Understated Solidity

The LG Optimus Sol seems to be designed to go unnoticed. But once you switch it on, it's as good as any worthy Android smartphone. There's a bright screen (3.8 inch, 480x800 pixels), displaying a no-nonsense interface with all the familiar features and menus. The camera is a 5 MP. The Sol has a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and 512MB RAM. Quite enough. For a mid-range phone costing Rs 19,000, it has features found in high-end phones: flip to mute, for example.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 28-05-2012)