By Todd Bernhard on Mon, 03/31/2014
SmartWatches are all the rage, even if Apple hasn't jumped in to the pool, yet. I've owned SmartWatches from Pebble, Martian Watches, i'mWatch, and more, and so far, none has met all of my requirements. One watch might have good battery life while another has a better screen or more apps, etc. So I'm happy to see more options.
Phosphor is the latest to join the fray, with a promising watch dubbed the Touch Time. That's an appropriate name, because there are no buttons, just a touchscreen e-ink display. Unlike i'mWatch and other LCD displays, the $159 Touch Time works best in direct light, but the tradeoff is it's not so good in the dark. There is a backlight which is activated by double-tapping the touch-sensitive spot below the screen.
The lack of buttons makes interaction dependent upon gestures, like swiping left to right. There's a tiny manual in the box. It's too small for my liking, but they have the information on the web at PhosphorWatches.com.
Where the Touch Time excels is the year long battery life. Even the best of the current batch of SmartWatches lasts about a week. Phosphor uses a coin-size watch battery; so instead of recharging weekly or even nightly, you replace it once a year. Set it and forget it. That also helps to make the watch waterproof.
Now on to the features of the Touch Time. Built-in apps include:
- Calculator with oversized numerical and mathematical symbol buttons
- Alarm with the ability to set up to six different time alerts
- Calendar that displays current, past, and future monthly views
- World time allows display of up to three different time zones
- Timer and stopwatch display lap data
- Reminders to keep track of daily events and tasks
- Lunar displays moon phase days to full moon and horoscope
Some of the apps are cool, like the lunar display and world time and the different watch faces. I don't think I'll be using the calculator or reminder apps, since my iPhone is always near and does a better job. Swiping can be a bit cumbersome as a form of data entry.
Physically, the Touch Time is almost exactly the same size as my original Pebble, but the Touch Time uses solid metal instead of plastic. You could say this makes it heavier but it's also more substantive; it has some nice heft to it. The Pebble was also crowd funded, like Phosphor's Touch Time, but the Pebble has an ecosystem for third party apps. The Touch Time really is more of a standalone watch with some smart features. It doesn't have Bluetooth or other connectivity features. The Touch Time is a watch that is smart as opposed to an overhyped SmartWatch.
Competition is good. So is battery life. With Phosphor's Touch Time, we get both!