The ultimate guide to PH Technical Labs smartwatches

PH-Labs-LogoPH Technical Labs has many great ideas for a smartwatch, if only they could make them happen.

PH Technical Labs (PHTL) is a Texas based electronics company that holds the patent for what should be a very advanced smartwatch, the HOT Watch. The trouble is, it can’t seem to nail down a release date. Months after the promised delivery date, there are still thousands of backers waiting for a smartwatch.

The organisation was founded in 2005, and at first glance seems like a reputable electronics company that has developed and sells a few different items in that field. As you read more closely you find that although they hold various patents for technological innovations, they have yet to bring to fruition any of their ideas.

PH Technical Labs products

In addition to the HOT Watch smartwatch, PHTL has a few other products listed on their website, although none are available for sale at this time. They include:

  • Power USB. This is a product that’s patent is still pending, but is supposed to work as a four portal power strip that is controlled through your computer to help cut down on energy costs.
  • iCount. This technology is expected to help theatres not only track the number of individuals sitting inside, but also use face recognition to pinpoint any known pirates.
  • Dynamic Glare. Although the patent for this product was approved in 2010, there is no sign of the system that is supposed to block the glare from the sun at a specific point of the user’s vision.

While on the surface, PHTL looks to be an innovative company providing useful products, with a little digging you can see that they have not yet delivered on a final product.

In fairness, there does seem to be some individuals who have received the HOT watch smartwatch, but the reviews are not great. In fact, the last post on Kickstarter page for HOT Watch is dated the 17th of February, and is a list of ways in which those users who do have the HOT Watch can amend the various problems it encounters. What follows is a list of comments, most related to not yet receiving their smartwatch.

Considering that the crowd funding campaign for the HOT Watch was in 2013, these backers have a valid reason for being upset. This seems to be a common issue with small and start-up companies trying to cash in on consumer interest in a smartwatch. Companies like PHTL promise a smartwatch full of bells and whistles not yet seen, but do not have the working technology to bring it to life.

In the case of HOT Watch, it would seem that the company was aiming so high that it ended up failing on all points.

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What the HOT Watch from PHTL promised

In late 2014, a limited number of HOT Watches were shipped out to show off its functions. Having originally stated in the Kickstarter campaign that the smartwatch would be able to facilitate private wrist calling, gesture recognition, a touch screen and number of apps, it is interesting to see how it did in fulfilling those features.

The main selling point of the HOT was a design that would allow the wearer to easily answer a call and engage in conversation using the smartwatch. The speaker and microphone stick out from the side, and by holding the watch a certain way and cupping your hand, you should be able to listen and talk in private. According to those who have tried it, this feature is nothing more than a speakerphone device, and affords very little privacy.

The next innovation was in gesture recognition. For example, you should be able to end a phone call by waving goodbye, but this was not often the case. None of the gestures work with consistency, and you will need to spend some time getting to learn them. The touch screen features worked fine, but with continued problems with Bluetooth connectivity to your smartphone, this is little comfort.

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Will the HOT Watch ever become available?

PHTL Smartwatches2

You can still go to the HOT Watch website and place an order for one of the four HOT Watch models:

  • HOT Watch Basic. Listed at $1795.55 USD, this is a square faced wearable with the speaker-microphone attachment obviously protruding from the side.
  • HOT Watch Curve. A bit fancier with a curved design, The Curve is the most expensive at $236.55 USD.
  • HOT Watch Edge. A modern looking watch, the Edge has a metal band that frames the black plastic display. This is available for $208.05.
  • HOT Watch Classic. The Classic is a nice looking watch with a thicker band of silver that makes it look like a fashionable wearable. It is listed for sale at $208.05.

The website promises that any pre-order that is received after May 2nd will ship in May of 2015. It is unclear if that applies to pre-orders made now, or if that message is meant for consumers who ordered the smartwatch in 2014. In either event, consider carefully that in almost two years only a handful of any of these watches has actually made it to a buyer.

Even if you are in love with the look of the HOT Watch, and the opportunity to carry on a conversation with it, buyer beware with this company. It would be prudent to wait and see if more shipments of watches that do work as they should ever make it to buyers before pre-ordering one of your own.

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