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Huawei enters wearables game with TalkBand hybrid smartwatch

Huawei CEO Richard Yu presents the Talkband B1 ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Huawei CEO Richard Yu presents the Talkband B1 ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
  • Chinese mobile giant unveils first wearable technology
  • Will go on sale for €99 ($136)
  • 2014 crucial year for wearable technology
  • Launch also includes 8-inch tablet and 7-inch "phablet"

(CNN) -- Chinese mobile technology leader Huawei unveiled the latest additions to its stable Sunday in Barcelona, ahead of the 2014 World Mobile Congress, including its "hybrid" fitness band/smart watch.

CEO Richard Yu presented the TalkBand B1 at the company's launch press conference. Connected to a smartphone via bluetooth, the device functions as both a fitness tracker and a phone -- a detachable bluetooth headset adds voice and text functionality. It also improves upon existing fitness trackers by housing a USB port in its wristband for charging.

It is touted to retail at $136 and expected to go on sale in China in Q1 2014 before being rolled out gradually across the rest of the world, although some in the tech community are less than enamored with its appearance.

Huawei CEO Richard Yu shows off his TalkBand smart watch ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
Huawei CEO Richard Yu shows off his TalkBand smart watch ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

It is currently designed to work with Huawei smartphones but its compatibility will be expanded upon in the future.

While it seems the world may be getting sick of smart watches that don't seem all that smart, and "glassholes" showing off their obtrusive technology, market research firm Canalys predicts that "2014 will be the year that wearables become a key consumer technology."

Along with fitness applications -- Samsung's recently-unveiled followup to its much-derided Galaxy Gear smartwatch includes fitness-tracking -- the next generation of smart watches has considerable potential for the medical market.

Huawei also released a number of other products at the media launch, including the MediaPad X1, a 7-inch Android-powered "phablet" that is expected to challenge Samsung's Nexus 7 and Apple's iPad mini.

Samsung is set to unveil its latest product -- widely understood to be its Galaxy S5 -- on Monday.

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