Watch out for a new watchphone

Watch out for a new watchphone

Summary: Samsung has a hands-free watchphone in the making, however with a hefty price tag and no launch date, most people can't touch it anyway.

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TOPICS: Samsung, Hardware
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Move over, Dick Tracy. Samsung is working on a watch-phone combo that you don't even have to touch.

Of course, at $1,000 a pop and no launch date in sight, most people can't touch it anyway.

Samsung's SPH-S1OO "watchphone" accepts voice commands so it can be used hands-free. It rings in different ways for different callers and automatically keys in preprogrammed letters or numbers to make quick work of logging into online services. There's also a "Secret Phone Book" where every saved phone number can be used only after the person keys in a 4-digit code, according to the device's 112-page user manual.

But the watchphone won't be sold in the United States or anywhere else anytime soon, despite last week's approval by the Federal Communications Commission, a Samsung spokesman said Monday.

The FCC go-ahead is instead a "proof of the technology," the spokesman said. He declined to say when and where the watchphone would be available.

Meanwhile, at least one analyst isn't holding his breath. "It'll never appeal to the mass market--not for a long time," said IDC analyst Keith Waryas. "Some people are going to buy these just to show their pals what they just bought. But that'll be it."

The SPH-S100 is the latest in the wrist-worn device niche. It's the second watch phone: The first was introduced in Korea, and sources said less than 1,000 have been sold. There are also watch-MP3 player and watch-camera combinations.

Texas-based watchmaker Fossil sells a "wrist PDA" that can receive information beamed to it from a personal digital assistant.

These and other luxury digital devices, such as Vertu's $30,000 phone--which has 400 mechanical parts and is encrusted with sapphires and rubies--aren't created to make a killing on the market, analysts believe. So why do the companies do it?

"They learn a little bit more and have something ready just in case a market appears," Waryas said. "It's also because they can."

Topics: Samsung, Hardware

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