sWaP Rebel – MI Spy

When mobile phones first came about, we envisaged their future incarnations involving all sorts of weird and wonderful creations with mobile technology incorporated into it. Well, sWaP have come up with a gadget which will no doubt fulfil the fantasies of many a James Bond wannabe with its watch-that-can-also-make-phone-calls collection.

One member of the pack is the sWaP Rebel which combines essential mobile phone functions with those all-important time-telling capabilities. But is it pretty practical or just a gimmicky gadget?

Design

As soon as we saw the sWaP Rebel, it immediately reminded us of the Baby G that made us too cool for school in the 90s. It’s a chunky monkey and its eye catching range of colours will certainly attract attention, but the rubber casing doesn’t exactly give it that exclusive feel. However, the overall design does a great job of covering up the fact that the Rebel can be used as a phone because on first impressions, you’d never guess what wonders lie beneath.

The device itself is comfortable to wear and at the end of the watch strap is a USB connector which needs to be plugged in to a subtle port hidden within this strap in order to make it work (and is the only way of charging the Rebel too).

Essentially, all the buttons and ports are well covered up on here and blend in well with the design. Underneath, you’ll find a round metal covering which easily snaps off to reveal the SIM card and microSD slots.

A tiny metal stylus comes with the watch and is an essential tool for getting around the phone’s menus. And while we can fully understand why sWaP made it so small to fit in well around the rest of the device, it can be easily misplaced which could make using the Rebel very hard indeed.

Innards

We’re so used to smartphones these days that we got a bit of a shock when turning on the sWaP Rebel and were met by a user interface that was reminiscent of something we encountered on phones twenty years ago. The 1.46 inch touchscreen is colour though and at the end of the day, the UI was simple to navigate – we just expected something a little more modern.

As you may have already gathered, the 1.46 inch touchscreen is very small and just practical enough to use with the metal stylus we mentioned earlier. It’s not particularly responsive so expect a bit of poking and prodding to get where you want to go. We realised how important it is to keep hold of the stylus when it came to texting as there was no chance of hitting the right letter without its help.

Using the phone functionality itself is a straight forward procedure – the Rebel has a built in loudspeaker and microphone for taking calls, although both ends seemed to have a little trouble understanding each other. SWaP has thrown in a fully functional headphone set to combat this problem although unlike most devices, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack and so the only way to enjoy your music and take calls is by using the included headset.

Internet: The sWaP Rebel uses WAP to get users online and after our surfing experience, we pretty much came to the conclusion that you’re probably better off using the Rebel for internet access only if you really have to. It only loaded the most basic of mobile websites, which is absolutely fine for reading the news or checking the weather, but if you’re after anything more complex, then keep your smartphone close by.

Camera: The Rebel comes kitted out with a 1.3 megapixel camera that can record video footage too. Of course, don’t expect great quality pictures but it’s fine for capturing a spy shot or two. The whole thing is a bit of a novelty act really as the camera’s awkward position on the side of the chassis makes it difficult to angle your wrist to grab a workable angle for your photo.

Other tech specs:

  • Music player. Supports MP3, WAV, AAC and Midi files
  • Video player. Supports 3GP and MPEG-4 files
  • 128MB of memory + 32MB (used by OS)
  • 8GB microSD card slot (2GB card included)
  • USB 2.0 port
  • Bluetooth
  • FM Radio
  • Space for 500 contacts
  • 130 – 160 minutes talk time

Any downsides?

We weren’t the sWaP Rebel’s biggest fans to begin with and things started to go downhill from the moment we turned it on. While it’s great to see so many phone functions crammed into a watch, they didn’t really prove to be worthy of a place there, what with the camera needing some manoeuvring to get a half decent shot and a web browser that was only just useable. We expected more from a device with a price tag of nearly £200.

Conclusion

Sadly, we were left disappointed in many of the sWaP Rebel’s departments with the cool, clean cut design just about lending it a bit of dignity. It certainly won’t replace your smartphone in a hurry but if you’re the kind of person who just has to have every  gadget going, are willing to put up with its misgivings, and are happy to splash the cash on it, then the Rebel is sure to find a worthy place in your tech collection.

One thought on “sWaP Rebel – MI Spy

  1. Rich Massena: You can ilnsatl and boot Solaris Express from ZFS, it is not supported in the istaller yet, so it means some manual work to get it going. It’s however worth the trouble IMHO.

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