For some reason, everyone is eagerly expecting Apple to release an “iWatch”, which is supposed to start a whole new mobile revolution just like the iPhone did, but so far the company is silent. The other big player on the market, Samsung, did actually release their own smartwatch, and while it’s quite nice, the limited compatibility (it basically only works with the Galaxy Note 3 for now and will never officially work with any non-Samsung devices) doesn’t make it all that attractive.
The Qualcomm Toq is averagely sized for a smartwatch – in fact, it is more compact overall than the Galaxy Gear (due to the lack of camera and less powerful hardware). The watch fits perfectly on an average sized wrist, and the rubber band is adjustable to fit almost anyone. The Toq comes in black or white, so there’s not a lot of choice in the external design, but really those two colors are more than enough for 99% of people.
Hardware features and performance
The internals of the Toq are nothing to write home about, with the exception of the display, which is Qualcomm’s own Mirasol color panel with a 1.55” diagonal size and a 288×192 pixels resolution – it looks good, not as crisp as Samsung’s Super AMOLED, but decent enough for everyday use. The colors are a bit faded, but that’s to be expected, and the display is very visible outdoors (even in direct sunlight) – that’s the best thing about Mirasol, which was originally created for eBook readers.
The processor is a simple low power Cortex M3 running at 200 MHz, and the Toq uses Bluetooth 4.0 LE to communicate with the paired smartphone or tablet. Charging the device is done exclusively through wireless power – in this case, you get a WiPower LE pad that can fully charge it in about an hour.
That’s about it for the hardware – there are no sensors, no camera, microphone or speakers – it’s purely a visual notification device that’s always on and always with you. In the box, you also get a pair of Bluetooth earphones, which are a great complement for wireless audio that can be controlled from the Toq’s touch screen.
|Display||1.55 inches, 288×192 pixels, Mirasol color touchscreen|
|Processor||ARM Cortex M3, 200 MHz, single core|
|Connectivity Options||Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy|
|Battery||Li-Ion, up to 3 days of lifetime, WiPower LE wireless charging|
|Dimensions and weight||47.6 x 43.3 x 9.96 mm, adjustable 15-22 inch wristband, 91 grams|
|Operating System and Software||Qualcomm ThreadX, requires pairing with an Android 4.0+ device|
The Toq uses Qualcomm’s own OS, dubbed ThreadX – it has nothing to do with Android, which is a bad thing since it means that the platform will not get a lot of apps anytime soon. But the default apps are good enough for starters – moreover, you do need a smartphone to make the watch useable. For now, the Toq works with any devices running Android 4.0+, but Qualcomm says it’s just a matter of software to make it compatible with the iPhone and Windows Phone.
Price and Availability
The Toq is expected to be released on October 10th in the US – there’s no word on an international release, and the device will be made in low numbers, as it’s more of a market test than an actual entry into the consumer market by Qualcomm. The $300 price makes it an impractical purchase for anyone but early adopters, so the low production volume is justified. Overall, the Toq is the best companion smartwatch yet, mostly owing to its Mirasol display and compact size – it knows what it is and doesn’t try to do more than it needs to, which is a good thing.