Being able to hold a conversation on a wrist-bound communicator has been a staple of popular fiction (science or otherwise) and fantasy for many a year but real world offerings have so far been a bit of a hit and miss affair. Things recently improved with devices from LG and Samsung but they're somewhat expensive solutions. Now Kempler & Strauss has launched the quad-band W Phonewatch which threatens to shake things up a bit. Offering similar functionality to its competitors at a fraction of the cost, the W also comes with its own Bluetooth headset that doubles as a stylus and MP3 control.

Until relatively recently, combining a watch with a mobile phone was the domain of quirky and marginalized novelty gadget manufacturers. Then came an announcement from electronics giant LG that it was to release the GD910. All fine and dandy, until the price was revealed. Samsung slimmed things down a bit with its S9110 which has a few more useful features but, like LG, has priced itself into an exclusive end of the market.

But now there's another option, and a pleasantly affordable one too. With the W Phonewatch, relative newcomer Kempler & Strauss has managed to squeeze a whole lot of technology into an elegant timepiece for just USD$199, undercutting the nearest competition by hundreds of dollars.

The SIM-free quad-band (850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 1900MHz) W features a 1.5in TFT 128px by 128px LCD touchscreen interface sporting a 260,000 color palette. At 2.24 x 1.77 x 0.62 in (57 x 45 x 15.7mm) it's a little chunkier than the LG and Samsung devices (almost 4mm wider than the latter) but weighs in at a lightweight 71g. There's an MP3 player, a 640 by 480 camera and 128 by 104 video. The 3.7 Volt 500mAh Li Ion battery is claimed to give 100 hours in stand-by or up to 150 minutes talk or music and is charged via USB or separate charger. Storage comes courtesy of a trans Flash/micro SD slot.

The W seems to hold its own when comparing functions and features with the more expensive competition but begins to pull away with the addition of the Communicator. The W is compatible with existing in-car and in-ear Bluetooth v2.0 devices, but why bother when it comes with its own innovative headset? As well as taking calls, the Communicator can control the W's MP3 player and, being slightly pointed at one corner, can be used as a stylus so Kempler & Strauss gives the user the choice of wearing it as a headset or clipping it to a belt or shirt pocket.

The Communicator can be worn over either ear, weighs 48g, has a range of 16ft and benefits from Fastpair technology which allows for quick device syncing in one touch. There's a noise canceling microphone and the claimed battery life is 8 hours talk time and 180 hours stand by. The 3.7V Y 120mAh Lithium Polymer battery can be charged using the same charger as the W.

Details of authorized distributors are available from Kempler & Strauss.

The demonstration video below shows the product in action: