12 PM | 04 Nov

The phablet of smartwatches is shipping next year

cuff

The phablet was a monstrosity until everyone had one — can the phablet of the smartwatch world pull off the same transformation? The short answer is “No, not right now,” but that doesn’t mean people aren’t trying. The latest company to have a go at reinventing the Pip-Boy is Rufus Labs, which has produced a gargantuan smartwatch that is essentially a low-end smartphone strapped sideways to your wrist. It has a 3.2-inch touchscreen display, up to 64GB of internal storage, runs Android KitKat, and also functions as a fitness tracker. “This will replace the need for smartphones, wallets, watches, fitness trackers, everything,” Rufus Labs’ CEO Gabe Grifoni told USA Today.

Except it won’t. For a start, the Rufus Cuff doesn’t have a SIM card, meaning it doesn’t have access to any cellular data. It’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled, yes, but if you’re on the move, you’ll need to connect to the internet via your smartphone for tasks like browsing the internet, checking social media, or messaging your friends. All things you have your smartphone for in the first place. You can use the Cuff for offline tasks like watching videos, reading, or listening to music, but it’s not clear why you’d want to, especially as you’d have to hold your wrist in front your face to do so.

Despite these disadvantages, people are still drawn to devices like the Rufus Cuff. When the company launched an Indiegogo campaign early last year it raised more than $450,000 — 180 percent of its original funding goal — and says it’s now shipping the device in early 2016 (you can buy one yourself from $249). Last year also saw the launch of the Neptune Pine, a similar gizmo with a 2.4-inch screen that received widespread coverage. Perhaps it’s because we’ve been exposed to wrist communicators in various forms on shows like Futurama and Power Rangers that we’re so comfortable with devices like these. However, familiarity isn’t a substitute for functionality, and the phablet-on-your-wrist is still a bad idea, for now.

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