Will I be able to make phone calls using my watch?

LG CTO Woo Hyun Paik holds up a little gadget that made a big splash at CES 2009: LG's watch phone.
LG CTO Woo Hyun Paik holds up a little gadget that made a big splash at CES 2009: LG's watch phone.
© AP/Isaac Brekken

The word spread like wildfire across the floor of the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) -- LG had a gadget that was not to be missed. It wasn't a new kind of HDTV or stereo system. It didn't even take up a lot of space in the booth. It was a sleek and stylish watch. But it was also a phone.

Before long, bloggers and reporters dubbed it the "Dick Tracy" watch. In the classic comic strip, Dick Tracy communicates with his allies using a two-way wrist radio. The watch from LG didn't resemble the bulky gadget on Tracy's arm. It looked far more advanced.

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The official model number for the watch phone is the LG-GD910. It resembles a prototype LG brought to CES in 2008 that featured a three-button interface. To make calls, you had to use the buttons to scroll up and down a virtual keypad and select each individual number. It was an interesting concept, but it didn't get a lot of attention.

The LG-GD910 is a different story. It received a lot of attention from journalists at CES 2009. Part of that may have been the mystique of the device -- LG didn't let anyone other than LG representatives handle and operate the watch. It was also attractive and featured a 1.43-inch (3.63 centimeter) screen. Another reason for the increased level of interest was a new interface. Instead of maneuvering through menu choices and using a keypad with physical buttons, the LG-GD910 has a touch-screen interface.

­Contrary to what you may be thinking, you don't have to hold the LG-GD910 up to your ear to listen in on conversations and then put your wrist in front of your mouth to talk. The speaker and microphones in the watch work well enough to use it as a speakerphone. But that's not your only option. LG incorporated Bluetooth technology into the watch phone. You can pair a typical Bluetooth earpiece to the watch if you prefer.

LG Watch Phone Features

The idea of the watch phone isn't new -- back in 2003, NTT DoCoMo introduced this prototype.
The idea of the watch phone isn't new -- back in 2003, NTT DoCoMo introduced this prototype.
© AP/Koji Sasahara

The touch screen interface is just one of the watch phone's many features that impressed onlookers at LG's CES 2009 booth. The watch is also 3G compatible. That means the watch phone utilizes the third generation of wireless communication technology. It puts the watch phone on the same playing ground as several popular models of smartphones.

LG Electronics claims that the watch is the first 3G phone to attain the speed of 7.2 megabytes per second (MBps) for High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) [source: LG Electronics]. HSDPA is a 3G data transmission protocol that allows wireless phones to download data at faster rates than older protocols. But few countries have built an HSDPA infrastructure to support this feature.

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The data transmission capabilities elevate the LG-GD910 into the smartphone category. The watch can display streaming video. It even has a miniature video camera -- you can hold a video conference on your wrist! It also has an MP3 player. According to CNET, the watch at CES had a 70 megabyte storage capacity.

The phone also has voice-recognition software that lets you voice dial contacts stored in your watch phone. It also has a voice-to-text feature that will transcribe your thoughts for you. People might think you look a little odd as you dictate messages into your wrist, but you know they're just jealous.

­As of right now, LG doesn't have plans to bring the watch phone to the United States. But according to the LG Electronics Web site, the watch will hit the market in Europe. Unlike its prototype predecessor, we may get the chance to see these watches worn in the wild. Brush up on your spy lingo and start shopping for a tuxedo -- this watch brings out the clandestine operative in you.

To learn more about cell phones and other gadgets, take a look at the links on the next page.

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Sources

  • LG Electronics. "LG Electronics, the world's first public 3G Touch wachipon (translated)." Dec. 29, 2008. (Jan. 21, 2009) http://translate.google.com.sg/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lg.co.kr%2Fpress%2Flgnews% 2Fnews%2Fnews_view.jsp%3Fpress_no%3D12856%26section%3Dobj_news%26from%3Dmain& sl=ko&tl=en&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
  • Liaw, Kim Poh. "LG GD910 Watch Phone with HSDPA Capability." Slashphone. Dec. 29, 2008. (Jan. 21, 2009) http://www.slashphone.com/lg-gd910-watch-phone-with-hsdpa-capability-293879
  • Lee, Nicole. "A closer look at the LG Watch Phone." CNET. Jan. 8, 2009. (Jan. 20, 2009) http://ces.cnet.com/8301-19167_1-10137452-100.html