Fossil Wrist PDA
|Operating system||Palm OS 4.1.2|
|Power||DC (6V), Lithium-ion|
|CPU||Motorola Dragonball Super VZ 66 MHz|
|Memory||8 MB (RAM), 4 MB (Flash) (approximately 7.7MB RAM available)|
|Display||160 x 160 pixels, 16 level greyscale, EL backlight, Touch Screen|
|Connectivity||USB, IRDA (v1.2a)|
|Successor||Fossil WristNET watch|
The development of the Fossil Wrist PDA began in 1999 when engineer Donald Brewer licensed a read-only version of the Palm OS from Palm Source and tried to make it work in a watch. For the first year of development, Brewer struggled to make the watch small enough to be wearable. The initial designs looked like "a cell phone glued on one's wrist" and in board meetings the term "boat anchor" was used. He began to talk with Microsoft engineers, who were looking for a wrist-top platform as well and were busy developing Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT watches). Once the size was decreased, the next major hurdle was making the screen. The smallest screens available at the time were cell phone screens that had 90 by 126 pixels. Palm OS, however, was written for a touch-sensitive 160- by 160-pixel screen. Re-working the code would be a massive undertaking, so engineers began to look for suppliers that could deliver the new technology. An engineering firm in Arizona called Three-Five Systems was able to deliver the display in July 2002. The resulting device was rushed to the COMDEX convention where it won the "best of COMDEX" award for "best mobile device". The original prototype had 2MB of memory, which was expanded to 8MB for the commercial release. The price at debut was $250US.
Fossil created a series of wrist PDAs which all had the same internal hardware, but differences in cosmetic design. The first series was the AU5005, AU5006, and AU5008 models which debuted in 2002 but due to various delays took several years to reach stores. In 2003, Fossil removed it from the company's web site, sparking a wave of rumors saying that the WristPDA was doomed. Sales were initially low, so in 2005 Fossil created two new models with slightly slimmer cases called the Fossil Abacus FX2008 and FX2009 (Abacus is a subsidiary of Fossil), with a price tag of $200. Because of lack of sales, prices dropped rapidly, and in late 2005 it was retailing for as low as $40. Fossil subsequently began discontinuing the Wrist PDA line in 2005. As a successor to the Wrist PDA, Fossil introduced a line of WristNet watches in 2005 that do not run Palm OS.
The AU/FX series are able to carry out most PDA functions and applications. Like other Palm OS devices, they synchronize or exchange information with a PC, have an infrared port, a virtual keyboard, and a touch screen. It supports most of the features of the graffiti handwriting recognition system. A tiny stylus can be stored in the watch clasp. Two buttons and a rocker switch on the side assist with navigating lists and menus. The screen resolution is equivalent to a Palm III, and an electroluminescent backlight allows it to be used at night. An IRDA transmitter on the front allows it to communicate with other Palm devices. In addition, there are Palm applications that allow the IRDA transmitter to be used as a TV remote, but transmission range is very low in this case. The watch uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery. In standby mode, when it turns off between uses, the battery can last a week or more. The device has a watch program, with several "watch faces" to continuously display the time. When in watch-face mode the battery life is around 1-2 days, depending on the integrity of the battery.
Initially, the Wrist PDA received positive reviews. In 2003 Wired.com called it "revolutionary" and a "Dick Tracy watch". Reviewers noted that it was able to run a wide variety of software such as DocumentsToGo 6, AvantGo, Palm Games and the freeware Metro Navigator.
Reviewers mainly complained about the bulky size and appearance. One reviewer noted that with a weight of 108 grams, it weighs nearly as much as the Handspring Visor PDA, which is 174g. Reviewers also complained that the screen was too dim and small to read and use for manipulating text. Other problems included having poor water-resistance, low battery life and an alarm that was too quiet for practical use.
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- "Fossil Wrist PDA FX2008". Cnet Archive. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
- "Abacus WristPDA: a watch goes where no PDA can go". The Inquirer. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
- "Fossil quietly killing off the Wrist PDA". Engadget.com. 17 August 2005. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
- "Fossil WristNET FX2008". Cnet.com. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
- Sagan, Sasha. "Fossil Abacus Wrist PDA". PC World Reviews. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
- "Fossil Wrist PDA FX2008". TheTechLounge. 13 April 2005. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
- "Fossil Wrist PDA FX2008: from Palm to wrist". The Register. 21 March 2005. Retrieved 15 September 2010.