E-Ink has long maintained a character of anonymity but in the last few years its grown to become an almost house hold recognizable technology. Okay, perhaps that is a bit of an overstatement but with the launch of the Kindle 2, Kindle DX and numerous other e-readers anybody in the know has heard of E-Ink. Bringing E-Ink to the masses in a slightly more affordable albeit smaller package is Phosphor. They make a set of watches that instead of a standard LCD from the 80s, uses E-Ink to display the date and time.
Aesthetically the Phosphor watch is rather stylish. I received the model that shows both the time and date and is finished with a leather band. Although I prefer a complete metal package, the leather actually turned out to be a nice compliment to the large metal face and probably lightened the load a bit as the Phosphor’s large display makes it rather hefty. The leather itself is actually pretty supple and flexible unlike some other watches in this price range, which meant that it had a nice fit and didn’t require yanking on the strap to find the right size. It’s worth noting that if you’re expecting a display that will get people asking ‘is that E-Ink?’, then forget it because it isn’t that distinguishable from other LCD watches, although Phosphor’s are particularly large and very easy to read.
At first glance the Phosphor appear to display date and time simultaneously. Although this does stand true, setting the watch’s date and time is a bit more cryptic. You see, there are two modes: date mode and time mode. You know you’re in date mode when the minute counter, or the two small digits aren’t displaying. Enter the setup mode while in date mode and the double digit counter will blink. This is actually the setting for the year, which ranges from 0-99. Once that is set it is just a process of setting the month (large number) and the day of the month. From their the Phosphor watch will determine the day of the week. Setting up time mode is a bit more straight forward and is the usual minute and hour process. Which brings me to my next point.
My biggest complaint about the watch are the two buttons: one for toggling between modes and the other for setting them up. To increase the time by an hour, I really had to mash down on the button to get it to change. Additionally, the watch didn’t exactly cruise through the numbers, so if you go pass the year by one, you’ll finding yourself with a numb thumb and waiting at least a few minutes to cycle through the remaining 98 digits.
The watch’s screen alternates from a positive to negative screen, which denotes when a minute has transpired. A nice subtle touch that lets you know the watch is in working order. Unfortunately, there is no ‘time only’ mode in this version, which is far from a deal breaker but since this is the more fully featured version it would be nice to have the option to turn off the calendar and declutter the screen.
So the way I see it is that if you’re in the market for an E-Ink product, your money is probably best spent on a Kindle or a comparable product since it will probably garner that ‘wow’ factor from on lookers. But if you’re in the market for a watch with a large, crisp digital display and a power efficient one at that, then I can only recommend Phosphor’s line of E-Ink watches.
You can order them direct and they start at $185 ($195 for a model comparable to the one I reviewed).
- Large and easy to read display
- Nice leather band
- Expensive if you want just e-ink
- Thumbing numbing buttons
- Cryptic calendar settings