The smartwatch world is officially booming. In the last week alone LG announced its new round- faced LG G Watch R and Samsung introduced its curved-screened Samsung Gear S smartwatch. While there's certainly no lack of choices in the wearable world, many of these wrist worn devices are simply an extension of your smartphone. Any functionality beyond checking smartphone notifications is still lacking.
Now, startup PH Technical Labs (PHTL) wants to take smartwatches to the next level with the Hot Watch. While the Hot Watch will display smartphone notifications, like incoming calls, you will also be able to raise their hand to their ear and answer the phone.
This is thanks to the watche's unique built-in speaker and motion sensors, which recognize gesture-triggered commands. You can also send emails and text messages directly from the device.
I recently had the chance to check out the Hot Watch Curve model, one of four created for the 2014 launch. Ringing up a price tag of $249 (about £150, AU$268), the Curve is the most expensive Hot Watch, sporting an elegantly-curved silhouette that gives the watch a bit of futuristic flair.
Talk to the hand – literally
Aside from the slightly futuristic design and more premium build materials, every Hot Watch comes with the same features. you looking to spend a little less can pick up the all-plastic version for $189 (about £114, AU$203) that looks very similar to the Pebble Smartwatch – which also happens to be the Hot Watch's main competitor.
At first glance, the Hot Watch looks fairly pedestrian and won't cover your wrist like the massive Samsung Gear Live. Instead, PHTL's wearable sports a very similar 1.26-inch, always-on e-ink screen that's just a tad larger than the Pebble smartwatch's display.
The similarities stop as soon as you turn the watch over, revealing a small black growth poking out from the wristband. This small prong pointing towards your hand is the Hot Watch's speaker and microphone.
Both work in tandem to let you take calls when you raise the watch close to your ear and cup it with your hand. The Hot Watch essentially acts like a speaker phone that bounces sound waves off your hand to let you take a call as you normally do – except passers-by will think that you're talking into your hand to no one.
Well, at least that's how it's supposed to work. In practice, I found that the Hot Watch's speaker would cut in and out. Admittedly, I only had a few minutes of call time on a noisy Manhattan street to try out the feature, and it takes a bit of practice to figure out the optimal position.
However, the few times I did hear audio come out of the speaker, it was about as clear as using the speakerphone on a smartphone. Given more time, I could probably figure it out and hold and actual phone conversation.
Despite the protruding speaker coming out of the watch band and a flat wire running along the inside of the wristband – both of which PHTL claims it has worked on miniaturizing for a long time – the Hot Watch feels quite comfy. There's no risk of pointing your wrist down and bumping into the speaker. Even with the extra smartwatch parts onboard, the Hot Watch is so light that the weight felt barely discernable from the rest of my arm.