LAS VEGAS - AT&T and FiLIP announced today (Sept. 8) at CTIA the launch of FiLIP 2 -- an updated version of a wearable locator for kids. The new iteration of FiLIP doesn't bring much to the table, except for some design improvements that will make you go, "Why didn't they do this before?"
No pricing has been announced yet, but the watch is expected to retail in the fall. I took a look at the new FiLIP, which is cute and simple, though a tad chunky.
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With the first FiLIP ($150), you had to buy the watch in a lime green shade, buy a separate accessory if you wanted a different color, and remove the watch face from the original to install it in the new bracelet. That way, you always end up with a spare band laying around. Now, the FiLIP 2 will retail in blue, red, orange and green so you can pick the color you prefer.
The FiLIP 2 will also come with what the company calls "size spacers," which are basically add-ons that you attach to the end of the wristband to extend it for larger wrists. On the unit I saw, this spacer blended well with the wrist and only looked slightly out of place -- as a clasp would on a watch band. You can switch this piece out for another if your wrist has grown or shrunk. This is the company's way of dealing with the not-one-size-will-fit-all conundrum. On the first FiLIP, its solution was to leave a gap on the pliable band so it had room to stretch.
Other than the changes in the band, the new FiLIP's screen is now encased in glass, offering more complete protection. Before, since you could pop out the watch face component, having the glass seal the front of the watch was not possible. I found the watch somewhat difficult to pry open although kids these days are probably smarter and stronger than my 26-year-old self.
FiLIP itself is a solid idea. It puts a basic phone with embedded GPS on your child's wrist, so you can get alerts when he or she wanders out of a safe zone or locate him or her when they're out of sight. The 3G service that makes calls and text messages possible costs $10 a month without a contract on AT&T, and you don't have to be a prior customer to sign up for this. With an onboard phone and speaker, kids can make calls to the up to five numbers input through a companion app on the parent's smartphone.
AT&T's rep told me the team is constantly working on improving the firmware, and recent enhancements have slightly increased battery life to 48 hours on default settings.
For a $150 device though, I expected the FiLIP to carry a touchscreen and offer more functions than just texting, calling and displaying the time. For $20 less, you can get the Pebble smartwatch, which runs apps and carries a battery that will last 5 to 7 days on a charge. While price information has not been released for the FiLIP 2, AT&T reps said the company is looking to keep the price affordable. The original FiLIP costs just $99 starting today (Sept. 8), making it more worthy of consideration.
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