BARCELONA, Spain -- Huawei has joined the wearable fray.
The Chinese company capped its presentation at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, with the unveiling of its TalkBand B1, a combination fitness tracker and Bluetooth headset priced at 99 euros, or about $136. The B1 has also been confirmed for an Australian launch at AU$179.
Chief Executive Richard Yu called it an integrated Bluetooth headset and "smartband," with NFC pairing and Bluetooth 4.1. Looking less like a watch than the band it's named after, the TalkBand can pop out of the wristband, be used to make a call, and then be popped back in. Tracking both your sleep and your health, it's IP57 water- and dust-resistant, so it can be worn in the shower. The strap itself is a USB connector, which lets you charge it up easily. It has 7 hours of talk time and 2 weeks of standby capability.
It has a curved 1.4-inch OLED, so no touch screen -- you manage it with an app on your phone.
Yu touted it as an accessory for the company's MediaPad X1 tablet, also unveiled at the MWC conference alongside multiple smartphones. The MediaPad X1 is priced at 399 euros, or about $548. The X1, you see, is a rather large phone at 7 inches, so you're expected to pair it with the TalkBand B1 whenever you'd like to make some calls. Assuming you still make calls these days.
We spent a little time with the B1, and the functionality is very limited. Right now it tracks your steps, calories burned, how well you've slept, and of course lets you make phone calls. The 1.4-inch OLED display is black and white, similar to what we've seen on other fitness-oriented wearables, and it does make for a reasonably nice-looking Bluetooth headset when removed from the strap.
The strap has an integrated USB port, which makes charging mighty easy, but we're not big fans of the clasp. It's got two little buttons you need to push into holes in the strap. It's very difficult to get it positioned properly and then, once in place, seemed very easy to just pop loose. But this is an early version of the device, and it's liable to change before release. Hopefully we'll see some more functionality added as well, and given the smartphone app that comes with the thing, we'd say that's a safe bet. But, with only one button and no touch screen, its utility will always be somewhat limited.
So think of this as a Bluetooth headset with a FitBit mixed in. It doesn't have the smarts of Samsung's Galaxy Gear or a Pebble, but whether consumers really want all that on their wrist still remains to be seen. And, for buyers of the X1, it will certainly beat talking into a seven-inch smartphone.