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Lenovo's first homegrown wearable tackles thorny battery-life problem

Lenovo's first homegrown wearable tackles thorny battery-life problem

The $89 Vibe Band VB10 smartband has an e-ink screen, and can run for seven days without a recharge

Lenovo Vibe Band VB10 fitness tracker (1)

Lenovo Vibe Band VB10 fitness tracker (1)

Battery life can be a challenge in wearables, but Lenovo claims its new fitness band can run for seven days without a recharge.

The Vibe Band VB10, announced ahead of the International CES trade show in Las Vegas this week, will be the first wearable to be sold under the Lenovo brand. In addition to displaying time and tracking fitness information, it will be able to receive messaging, phone and social network notifications.

"The main feature of this device is its industry leading seven-day battery life while constantly connected to your phone with display and Bluetooth always turned on," said Craig Bond, lead of worldwide product communications for consumer smartphones at Lenovo.

This is the first internally developed wearable being released by Lenovo. The Moto 360 smartwatch joined Lenovo's product portfolio when the Chinese company bought Motorola Mobility from Google last year.

The Vibe Band VB10 is designed to work with the new Vibe X2 Pro smartwatch, also announced at CES. Lenovo is joining a crowded wearable market that includes Samsung, LG, Acer and Asus. Apple will soon start shipping its Apple Watch in a few months.

The Vibe Band has an amalgam of interesting technologies to achieve the seven days of battery life. It has a low-power display based on e-ink technology, which is also used in e-readers like Amazon's Kindle. E-ink displays don't draw a lot of power, which is one reason why e-readers can last for days without a recharge.

The Vibe Band's battery life is similar to that of FitBit's upcoming Surge, which has the additional functionality of tracking heart rates. Some smartwatches that double up as fitness trackers suffer from battery-life issues due to LCD screens, which can drain batteries.

The e-ink screen has a 200 pixels-per-inch resolution, which is more than competing smartbands, Bond said.

Smartphone, SMS and social networking notifications can be instantly received on the wearable with space for up to 150 characters, Bond said.

The smartband is also water-resistant. It can remain immersed in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes, Lenovo claimed.

"It can be worn for 24 hours even in the shower," Bond said.

The fitness band can track steps and calories, and can work with a smartphone app to track fitness information and set goals and reminders. The wearable works with any Android or iOS smartphone, according to Lenovo.

The wearable will be priced at $89 and ship in April. Lenovo did not provide availability information, though it hinted that the product could initially ship in Asia along with its new Vibe X2 Pro smartphone.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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