Republic Wireless has formally unveiledRelay, which is basically a screenless smart walkie talkie that both very young kids and their parents can use to keep in touch with each other. The mobile virtual network operator (read our 2017 review of the company) has specifically designed the device for children who will soon become first time smartphone owners in the next few years. The carrier, however, is not looking to get little boys and little girls get too attached to mobile devices this early -- this is why it has built Relay to discourage or reduce digital screen dependence, hence the screenless design.
Despite the fact that it does not come with a display, Relay still functions like a mobile handset, in the sense that it comes with full support for both LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity. It bears noting though the device will not be making use of a phone number. Instead, parents and their kids can communicate with each other directly via two Relay devices, or by using an Android or iOS mobile app from the parent’s smartphone.
As a kid friendly gadget, operating the Relay device is pretty straightforward -- it features just one button for activation, and once turned on, kids or parents can control it by using verbal commands, similar to how smart speakers such as Google’s Home or Amazon’s Alexa work. Apart from serving as a 2010s version of the walkie talkie, Republic Wireless’ Relay can also provide location tracking for concerned moms and dads. This is accomplished by way of global positioning system (GPS) and with the help of Google Assistant. For good measure, the device also comes preinstalled with a music streaming app.
Republic Wireless’ Relay is slated for wide release within the first few months of 2018, and the company is looking to offer the device at $99 for a single unit (with service at another $7 per month), or at a special pricing of $149 for a couple of units or $199 for three units.
Nearly a month ago, the MVNO was reported to be developing a smart speaker called Anywhere HQ. Well, Republic Wireless has officially introduced the product along with Relay. For those who missed the news the first time, Anywhere HQ is part of the carrier’s Anywhere series of gadgets, and is basically a Google Assistant driven, voice controlled smart speaker that allows users to make and take phone calls (through the speaker), and even offer 4G LTE connectivity.
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