Fossil Abacus Wrist PDA review
The style and concept won't suit everyone, but it does mean you'll never be late again
Your first reaction on seeing the Fossil Abacus Wrist PDA is likely to be one of two exclamations: number one, 'why on earth would anyone want one of those?' Or number two: 'I want one of those.' If you fall into the first category then look away now, but for anyone who's ever had that sci-fi-inspired desire to carry their life details on their wrist, this is for you.
The Wrist PDA uses a specially adapted version of Palm OS 4.1, powered by a 66MHz processor and 8MB of RAM. The screen squeezes in a surprisingly sharp 160 x 160 pixels, but it takes some getting used to a greyscale TFT rather than colour. At least there's a backlight. Where you do feel the limitations of its size is when accessing menus, as trying to tap exactly the right point on the 1.4in screen is very tricky. We applaud the stylus, though, as this ingeniously folds back into itself and then slips snugly into the buckle.
The acutely observant will have noticed the lack of a Graffiti writing area; instead, you write directly onto the screen using either Jot or Graffiti 2. The learning curve is steep, even for long-term Graffiti users, partially because you can't keep a watch steady in the same way as a palmtop device. It's suitable for writing quick notes, but nothing more.
Much of the time, you'll be using the chunky black plastic buttons to access the programs. A rocker switch lets you scroll up and down, and you press it to activate. There are also Page Up and Page Down controls, plus a Back button. The final black piece of plastic lifts up to reveal a mini-USB port, through which you both connect to your PC and charge the watch. It's just a shame the battery lasts only for three days under typical usage of half an hour per day.
There's still lots to like about the Fossil Wrist PDA. It already looks set to have a cult following, with dedicated software available from http://fossil.palmgear.com. And although it's huge compared to a normal watch, and certainly more suited to a bulky wrist, it packs that novelty factor because it can do so much. It won't be usurping smartphones any time soon, but at this price it's almost worth buying for its sheer uniqueness.