LAS VEGAS — While some smartwatches give you little more than truncated notifications, and others have just a few apps, GoldKey's new Secure Communicator provides a fully-functional Android device with a speaker, microphone, camera and independent 3G connection for calls and data. Better still, the device comes preloaded with GoldKey's security software for access to encrypted storage, VoIP calls and secure transactions.
We had a chance to briefly test the $399 watch at CES 2015 and were impressed with its smooth performance, sleek looks and complete Android experience.
Known primarily as a security-solutions provider, GoldKey has been offering encrypted email, cloud storage, VoIP calling and secure-transaction services to business clients and consumers for a number of years, along with USB security tokens that allow you to access encrypted data with a simple key. Now the company is bringing its security software to the wearables market, with one of the most intriguing wrist gadgets we've seen.
The first thing we noticed about the Secure Communicator was its striking gold-colored chassis, which just seems appropriate for the company's branding. The device uses a standard resin wristband with a normal buckle, which is a lot better than the annoying clasps we find on smartwatches like the ASUS ZenWatch.
If it didn't have a band, you might mistake the Secure Communicator for a tiny Android tablet or phone. It has the standard Android navigation buttons — back, home and menu — placed below the screen bezel, along with a power button and volume rocker on its right side. The left side houses a SIM card slot for the device's 3G service, which will work on any GSM provider (AT&T or T-Mobile in the U.S.). A 5-megapixel camera sits on the top surface of the watch, and a microphone on the bottom surface.
The Secure Communicator's 1.54-inch, 240 x 240 display was sharp and bright in our brief hands-on, with colors that were accurate yet did not seem quite as vibrant as those we've seen on AMOLED watches like the Samsung Gear 2. We didn't have an opportunity to test the calling / voice-command features or to take a photo with the camera.
GoldKey's watch runs a barely-modified version of Android 4.4 KitKat. The icons appear four to a screen, a watch face that appears in lock mode and everything is just small enough to fit on the screen. Thanks to the watch's 1.2-GHz dual core ARM CPU, we found navigating around the UI extremely snappy as we swiped through the app drawer and launched a couple of apps.
In addition to standard Google apps such as Gmail and Maps, the device has a small-screen-friendly Web browser. Interestingly, the Secure Communicator uses the stock Android keyboard for typing; when we tapped on the browser address bar, we were presented with the full set of QWERTY keys and were able to tap them with reasonable accuracy if we were very deliberate about our touches. The keyboard has haptic feedback, which makes it feel more like you're typing on a physical object.
Because the device runs full Android, it also comes with Google's Play Store. If you want to try downloading your favorite game or productivity app and see how it works on the small screen, you can.
Perhaps most importantly, the GoldKey Secure Communicator comes preloaded with the company's security software, which allows it to access the company's security services, using a GoldKey ID, a free online identity with which other users (or businesses) can share secure data or calls. You can get the GoldKey mobile app for your phone or tablet as well, but having it on a watch brings that level of security to your wrist.
The GoldKey Secure Communicator is on sale now for $399 through the company's website (goldkey.com). Users who sign up for the $19.95/month GoldKey Premium services can get the watch for $199.