Over the past year, several phone manufacturers have tested the waters in the wearable space with the introduction of smart-watches. Not to be left behind, Tag Heuer has come up with the Connected, which is a premium smart-watch. Obviously, the announcement by the 155-year old watch maker has got many heads turning. How does the $1500 smart-watch from the Swiss watch maker compete with the others from the phone makers?
Design of the Tag Heuer Connected
The Tag Heuer Connected is a men’s watch that is reminiscent of a conventional watch and not a miniature phone. Most of the watch exterior, including the case and the lugs, is made with Grade 2 titanium. The watch is designed for an IP67 rating, which means that it is dust-proof and water resistant up to 1 metre. At 46mm * 12.8mm, the Connected is larger than other smart-watches in the market. However, the Connected is fairly light and weighs only 52 grams, due to the liberal use of titanium.
The sandblasted, carbide-coated bezel is black in color and is made with titanium. The words “TAG Heuer Connected” is engraved in silver lacquer, which contrasts well with the bezel. Numerals on the watch have a brushed finish and appear raised. The push button has an image of the Tag Heuer Shield.
The vulcanized rubber straps weigh 29 grams and are available in 7 different colors. The folding clasp and the safety push-button are made with titanium to match the case. Apart from the straps, the back panel is the only part that is made of plastic.
Electronic Specifications of the smart-watch
The dial of the Tag Heuer Connected is circular in shape and uses a transflective LTPS LCD display. A transflective display allows you to view the screen clearly in bright light and also in dim light. The 1.5 inch display has a resolution of 360 pixels * 360 pixels, which translates to a pixel density of 240 ppi. This is low when compared to other phones or smart-watches in the market. However, users will not be looking at the dial continuously, unlike a phone where one might want to watch a movie. In my view, the improvement in battery life due to a lower pixel density is a better trade-off. The display controller supports multi-finger recognition. A scratch-resistant sapphire screen compliments the display and is used for protection.
An Intel 1.6GHz dual core processor clocked at 500MHz serves as the controller for the watch. Again, the choice of the lower clock speed is to reduce the power dissipation, which improves battery life. The Tag Heuer Connected has 1GB of RAM and 4GB of storage memory, which should be fairly adequate for normal use. The sensors on the watch include a gyroscope, tilt detector, microphone and a haptic sensor. The watch does not support Near Field Communication (NFC), and GPS sensors are notably missing. Other connectivity options on the watch include Bluetooth 4.1 and 802.11 Wireless LAN support. A 410mAH battery provides a minimum of 25 hours battery life under typical use conditions. The watch can be charged by placing it on a dock.
Software options on the Tag Heuer Connected
The Tag Heuer Connected runs on the Android Wear OS, which is an operating system for wearables. The OS allows you to pair the wearable device to an Android 4.3+ or iOS 8.2+ smart-phone.
The Connected has ‘interactive counters’ for time keeping, Weather and Google Fit. Depending on the option set, the theme on the dial changes to display the relevant information. The resident apps on the Connected include a timer, an alarm, a stop-watch and a music app. The music app can play songs that have been downloaded onto the watch. You can also play music from a paired smart-phone. The Connected can also detect the wind direction and monitor weather. Google Fit is a health tracking app. However, the watch does not have any sensor for health or exercise monitoring.
The other software on the watch includes subscriptions to selected Android apps on Google Play. The RaceChrono Pro is a lap timing software that can be used for outdoor or motor racing. The Golfshot Pro app is an apps for golfers. The Insiders app is a travel companion that provides you with a list of things to do and places to see in any part of the world. If outdoor adventure is your cup of tea, the Viewranger software provides detailed trail guides. However, all these software perform best with an integrated GPS that can triangulate your position exactly, which the Connected lacks. It appears that Tag Heuer has thrown in software for free without trying to optimize the hardware and software for a specific application.
The future of the Tag Heuer Connected and the wearable industry
These are early times for the wearable industry and only time will tell us whether wearables are successful or not. If successful, wearables such as smart-watches will become as commonplace as a smart-phone.
The Connected is an attempt by Tag Heuer to gauge the wearable market. It is also their first smart-watch which gives them an entry into the wearables market, should the industry take off. However, users might be reluctant to invest in an expensive smart-watch. In order to offset this risk, Tag Heuer provides you the option to exchange your smart-watch for a mechanical watch (Tag Heuer Carrera) after 2 years at an additional $1500.
The Connected is a luxury buy at $1500. Tag Heuer must be complimented for making a smart-watch that looks like a premium conventional watch. However, users must remember that the watch is not a full-fledged Android device and misses several features that are commonly found in lower cost Android devices.