Rufus Cuff: How big a smartwatch can you stomach?

Forget those dainty devices like the Samsung Galaxy Gear. The Rufus Cuff is going big and testing the boundaries of smartwatch size.

Rufus Cuff design
Would you wear this smartwatch? Rufus Labs

I'm not one to shy away from technology that stands out. I admit to checking my grocery list on an iPad while wheeling a shopping cart around the store -- more than once. Years ago, I owned a honking big watch with a built-in compass, light, and thermometer. But it never really went into regular service in my wardrobe because it was so unwieldy.

I look at images of the Rufus Cuff, a smartwatch coming into its final crowdfunding stretch on Indiegogo, and I'm reminded of that giant watch I had. Granted, the Rufus Cuff is much more high-tech. It's so different from most current thinking in smartwatch design that its makers prefer to call it a "wrist communicator."

The $279-pledge-price Rufus is big. It has a 3-inch wide touchscreen. It's not far off from what you would get if you just taped your smartphone to your wrist. It is designed with a band that lets you wear it either out on top of your wrist, or rotated under your wrist to make it a little more subtle. But people are going to notice, so be prepared for comments if you buy one.

The device works with both Android and iOS phones, which is nice. I tried to immerse myself in the specs, but I kept getting distracted by the aesthetics. It looks like a connected mini-tablet you just happen to wear on your wrist. It has a built-in mic and speaker. It even has a camera and Web browser. Apps are no problem, since it runs a full Android operating system. At some point, you might wonder why you would even bother to carry a separate smartphone, but you'll still need your phone to handle actual calls.

There is an engagingly retro sci-fi sense about the Rufus Cuff. It will probably be only a matter of time before someone mods a Rufus Cuff into a Pip-Boy 3000 from Fallout. All that screen space seems like it would be a luxury, if you're able to embrace the sheer size of the thing. I've been contemplating it for a while now, and I have to say, I think I would wear it. In public. With no shame.

The Rufus Cuff is about $6,000 away from reaching its $200,000 fixed funding goal with a week to go. The 900 funders show there's a decent slice of interest in having a wearable device of this size. Where do you fit on the acceptable smartwatch size scale? Are you ready to embrace big and chunky, or do you prefer something more discrete? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Rufus Cuff mock-up
What the final Rufus Cuff will look like running Android. Rufus Labs

 

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