Timex set to join smartwatch fray with $399 Ironman One

Price includes one year of AT&T data service to eliminate need for cell phone connection; available in November

Timex will ship its Ironman One GPS+ smartwatch in November, starting at $399. The company is already taking orders at its Web site.

The Timex smartwatch price tag includes one year of mobile data service from AT&T, which means it can operate for data independent of a cell phone.

Phone-free text messaging and uploading of fitness performance data is included, according to online specs at the Timex site. Voice calling is not included.

Many smartwatches today, including the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo from Samsung, as well Android Gear devices, rely upon Bluetooth connections to a smartphone to access most applications. The Gear 2 includes a microphone for making calls and voice commands.

Even though it doesn't need a cell phone connection, the Timex device does include Bluetooth for functions such as streaming music (with 4GB of storage) to a Bluetooth-compatible headset.

The $399 model comes with GPS fitness tracking and a touchscreen display, while a $450 version adds a Bluetooth-ready heart monitor that is worn on the chest. Some of Samsung's smartwatches rely on a heart rate monitor on the back side of the watch that uses a laser light focused on the wrist. Some reviewers have found those readings to be inconsistent.

Timex said the mobile data service from AT&T will come with features that vary by market.

The Qualcomm Mirasol touchscreen on the device is advertised as always-on and capable of being read in sunlight. The battery provides eights hours of power in cellular-connected mode or four hours when music is also played.

Timex hasn't disclosed what operating system will run the smartwatch.

The Ironman One will rely on cloud-based services from Synchronoss, which also developed the watche's mobile applications and Web portal.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at Twitter @matthamblen or subscribe to Hamblen RSSMatt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com

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