We’ve seen quite a few innovations in the world of mobile accessories from strictly basic Bluetooth enabled headsets going from Mono to Stereo (A2DP) to a variety of corresponding gadgets from jewellery to sports equipment. For Sony and it’s previous iteration, Sony Ericsson, there has been a certain fascination with wrist based tech, i.e. watches.
The company has been experimenting and consolidating with watch manufacturers for a long time to design and offer Bluetooth enabled accessories for its handsets. Fossil was one such big name watchmaker who has worked with Sony Ericsson in the past. Its wristwatches were Bluetooth powered and had little head up displays to show users that they had missed calls and messages waiting on their phones. Since the tIme of Dick Tracy, the phone watch has been something that only LG managed to design well enough and produce with its GD910 3G enabled device.
Sony’s SmartWatch might not be what the famous detective would have opted for, but we were curious to see just how useful a wrist “informer” would be in today’s hectic mobile scenario.
It features a 1.3-inch OLED display with multitouch capabilities and a 128 x 128 pixel resolution. It’s not as large as the GD910 and if your forearms are large, it’s going to a look a little small. The display itself is mildly scratch resistant, but we urge you to be a little careful nonetheless. We're concerned about it being water resistant, and it's not. So again, it's somthing you'll need to be careful with.
Clip it anywhere
The rubberised strap is comfortable enough, but if you’re using it during a workout session, then the sweat can make it a little difficult after a while. Like the iPod nano, it is also a clip based device so you could wear it anywhere else. It can be connected and charged via a proprietary USB port placed at the bottom. A power/sleep button is on the right hand side where you’d find most watch buttons.
Connecting the SmartWatch
It’s a simple mode of Bluetooth (3.0) connectivity. The SmartWatch is also compatible with a wide range of devices from Sony as well as other brands. We tested it on a Galaxy Nexus and it worked just fine. Click here for a full list of compatible device. Check out the list carefully if you’re intent on purchasing the gadget, as it only works partially with some handsets. Connecting the SmartWatch to an Android phone is simple and involves installing a couple of applications. The steps are shown in the video below .
Features and Performance
The UI is simple and neat. It’ll take you a little while to learn the gestures for swiping over to the apps or the widgets that you install. It’s a pretty seamless process for most part, but a few of the apps like the GPS Maps take a little while to load. The gestures are nevertheless quite simple with a simple double tap with two fingers to come back to the home screen.
The icons are a little small but easy to access. What could be considered an issue is the lack of any settings on the device—even those as simple as adjusting the screen brightness.
While in some aspects the device seems a bit redundant, it does manage to provide some worth to it’s concept. For instance, it accesses your phonebook for caller ID on the display so you can avoid answering incoming calls from unknown numbers or those from your mistress, if you’re wife is around. The same goes for messages. You can read the messages quite easily on the display and even choose to call up the sender from the watch.
Get social network updates
In cases like this, it would have been a much better option to simply have a handsfree socket on the handset that would actually allow you to take or make a call right from the device while it accesses your handset like any good old Bluetooth headset.
There are plenty of apps, including ones for Twitter and Facebook, that show you the latest updates and posts. The music player app also lets you control your media. However, this is also easily managed if you’re using a handsfree with controls attached. Again, if this had an earphone, it would have been a much better scenario to work with.
There are those like Endomondo’s Sports tracker, a calendar to remind you of schedules and appointments and even a calculator, all of which are very handy. VFinder lets you use the display as a viewfinder for your phone's camera. It has a bit of Nanny-Cam style feel but it’s painfully slow and doesn’t let you actually take pictures. However, some of the paid apps like Camera Click also allow you to capture pictures. Needless to say, thanks to the dedicated apps for the gadget, you can get quite a bit of functionality out of the SmartWatch.
A funky piece of tech
With heavy usage, i.e. plenty of incoming calls and messages, accessing apps frequently, you’ll get about 10 hours of usage before the battery goes completely dead. That’s not too bad but we did expect a little more.
The Bottom Line/Price in India
The price tag on Sony’s SmartWatch Accessory is Rs. 6,299, which is in a little bit of a grey area as high end accessories go. It certainly does have it’s plus points, but on the down side, it should have had an audio out option to simplify the user experience further and it could have been water resistant. This puts it a little bit on the expensive end. However, on the other hand, there’s quite a bit that the SmartWatch is capable of and I’m sure developers will continue to add more apps for support. So if you are a serious techie who loves their gadgets and gizmos, the Sony SmartWatch is a pretty good deal.
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