You could be forgiven for not having heard of MyKronoz. Though the Swiss smartwatch maker has been selling products in Europe, they're still hard to find in North America. That could soon be about to change as the company plans to release its ZeSplash waterproof wrist device both in Europe and North America. We saw a demo of the water-resistant watch at CES 2014 and were intrigued by its ability to make calls and compose SMS messages.
Available for $149 (149 Euros in Europe) when it launches later this year, the ZeSplash features a 1.54-inch, 240 x 240 capacitive touch display, a built-in pedometer, Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity for pairing with your phone and 256MB of storage. The 1.76-ounce, 2.5 x 1.6 x .47-inch watch looks and feels no bigger than a typical men's sports watch and comes in a variety of fashion colors, including black, brown, white, yellow, pink and, our favorite, blue and white. As you might guess from its name, the ZeSplash is designed to be water resistant but MyKronoz did not say how much punishment it can take.
Unlike some other smartwatches, the ZeSplash runs its own proprietary operating system, which is not a flavor of Android. There is no marketplace for third-party apps, just a few built-in programs. However, those built-in apps offer a lot of the basic features you'd want from a smartwatch.
During a brief demo, MyKronoz's Boris Broad first showed us the watch face, which just showed the time. After tapping on the face, he was taken to another screen with the time at the top and shortcut icons for the dialer, aps menu and a voice control app that launches Siri or Google Now, depending on what phone you're tethered to.
He then tapped on the main menu icon, which showed a screen with four shortcuts to different apps, including SMS messaging, the phone dialer and music player. Swiping to the left revealed another four shortcuts to apps such as the pedometer, sound recorder and alarm. A third app screen had a settings app, Bluetooth configuration app and a couple of other shortcuts.
Where every other smartwatch we've seen either just shows SMS messages or allows you to compose them via voice command,the ZeSplash's messaging app gives you an editing screen, complete with a virtual keyboard that runs in QWERTY, number or handwriting recognition mode. We did not get to try the handwriting recognition mode, but the keys on the keyboard seemed much too small to touch accurately on a 1.5-inch display. Still, it's good to see that the watch provides the option of keyboard input, even if it might be a challenge to use.
In addition to the functions we saw, the phone supports email notifications, social media alerts from Facebook and Twitter, calendar reminders and an "anti-loss" feature that helps you find your phone. The ZeSplash will work with iOS devices, Android devices or any Bluetooth-enabled phone, but it only offers all of that functionality on Android.
Even though it doesn't run an open OS like Android, this aggressively-priced smartwatch has a lot of potential because of its snazzy looks, strong preloaded apps and ability to handle phone calls and voice commands. We look forward to testing out the ZeSplash when it comes to America later this year.