By Todd Bernhard on Mon, 06/28/2010
Of all the gadgets I get to test, I was anticipating the ZOMM (http://www.ZOMM.com) more than any other. I have attended press briefings at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for a couple of decades, and the past two years, ZOMM was demonstrating their prototype but now it is finally shipping!
So what the heck is ZOMM? It’s a Bluetooth speakerphone that’s also a Wireless Leash™ and a Personal Safety device. The speakerphone part is straightforward, but this is tiny, about the size of a stack of four quarters and 0.49-oz. You can wear it on a belt clip or on a key ring. Instead of fishing for your phone in a purse or briefcase, you keep the ZOMM close at hand. Just touch the bright Z button to quickly answer a call. Touch it twice to send the call to voicemail.
The Wireless Leash™ concept is a great capability. Imagine if that unfortunate engineer who lost the iPhone 4 prototype had a ZOMM? As soon as he was 30 feet away from his valuable device, he would be alerted by vibration, an alarm, and flashing and could have retrieved it. This could help all of us keep track of our iPhone or other Bluetooth phones. I did run into a problem when I used the iPhone 4 to record video. Apparently it uses so much of the phone’s processing power that the ZOMM doesn’t get a response from the iPhone and the alert goes off until you touch the button. Also, the ZOMM does not pair with the iPad, but that is because Apple has, at least for now, limited the iPad's Bluetooth capabilities to Headphones and not Handsfree devices.
Finally, the ZOMM acts as a panic button. You can hold the Z button down for nine seconds in an emergency and have a siren sound played. Keep holding it down and it will call an emergency number. You can use the speakerphone to ask for help or it can speak a prerecorded message asking for help!
I’ve spoken with the founder of ZOMM, a pleasant mother of three who had the epiphany for this device. While a big focus is on women with purses, I think the ZOMM has value to men, too. When I first saw the ZOMM, almost two years ago, I wanted a watch-based version so I could be one step closer to Dick Tracy! I put their belt clip on my watchband and it’s not far off! I actually bought a Bluetooth bracelet directly from China that does some of what the ZOMM does but it’s junky, does a terrible job, and the button broke. I hesitate to even mention it in the same breath as the ZOMM. The ZOMM is small, elegant, multifunctional, and well designed… it’s the real deal.
ZOMM is available in black or white for $80 directly from http://store.zomm.com or Amazon.com. You get two hours of talktime or three days of normal use, so it’s probably best for short calls versus marathon conference calls. And you will have to train yourself to ‘recharge your keychain’, so to speak! One feature that is missing is Caller ID. It would be great if there was a deluxe model with an LCD display but until then, I’ll use my own app, AutoRingtone to create Talking CallerID ringtones for each contact! That way, even if the iPhone is out of sight, I can hear the name of who is calling and decide if I want to answer!