John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Sony Smartwatch Review

A little while ago I tripped across an Android Smartwatch from Sony so went and did some digging. I found there are other ones on the market. The Motorola Activ

for one and there are others. It actually turns out this is Sony’s second attempt. Review of the first one were pretty bad. I’ve noticed you can find the first gen on ebay uber cheap. I saw the Activ a couple of weeks ago and it is BIG. There is no way you are wearing this on a daily basis unless your arm is the size of a tree trunk or you want to define yourself as a major league geek.

I’d been spying one of these on ebay when I was wandering through a mall and saw a Sony store and thought I’d pop in. They had one, the price was the same as Expansys and Future Shop and had an excellent return policy so on an impulse just bought it!

One the things I love about Android is the innovation going on in so many areas. The benefits of an open architecture!

The physicals on this one are quite good. It consists of a device about the size of an iPod Nano along with a watch band. The Two can be separated easily (and need to be for charging) and you can use the device clipped onto anything else, although I can’t imagine doing so. The clip is well made and won’t come off accidentally. The band is ok, a nice rubber mat finish. It’s reasonably comfortable but I did notice it got sweaty under the band in heat. The front of the unit is absolutely a scratch (and finger print) magnet. I do not think this unit will last looking nice at all. The underside of the unit is white for some reason. It sticks out and looks odd for my tastes. Black would have been better. under the edhe of the clip are a series of contacts that the custom charge connector hooks into. The clip that holds the unit in place also holds the charging cable in place. Nice design. The cable plugs into a standard USB port for a PC. They do not provide an AC charger.

Out of the box the device is charged and ready to go! Yay … Before it is paired to your ohone you discover the first major oops out of the box. This device is completely useless without a phone. There is no way to set the time (and it does not like to be disconnected from the phone for long either) without a phone. So the first thing you MUST do is pair it. Sounds simple enough. Well patience is the order of the day. On my Samsung Captivate Glide I tried over and over again only to have it fail to pair. I was about ready to give up when magically it connected. No idea what was different. Not sure what to advise other than keep trying. Silly. Once paired however the watch stays paired well and re links up when you get out of range VERY well. The post pairing Bluetooth is well done. Probably one of the best I’ve seen to date.

So other than a watch what else can this thang do? Well you load up an ap called LiveWare manager on your Android phone. From there you can install plug ins that extend the functionality of the watch. Out of the box the watch is VERY plain. There are two digital and one analog all of which can be best described as boring but functional. They don’t even act as a normal watch. You have to push a button to read the time. There are plug ins to alert you to new mail, new text messages etc. There’s a facebook ap (useless) a Endomono plug in etc. There’s also a music control ap, one of the reasons I liked this device. It allows you to control the music on your phone without pulling out the phone (with limitations). You can play, pause, ff/rew, volume controls and see the cover art for what’s playing. You can not change what’s playing (to a different CD for example). The name of the song and artist are show but are shown so small and the title does not auto scroll making this less than perfect. There’s an RSS feed ap but who in there right mind is going to read facebook, RSS or much of anything on the small screen? I don’t see the point. There’s a google map plug in that is very nice. There are third party replacements for the watch that work better for $1. They provide more normal functionality but because they are an ap you have to select them from the menu to see the time. At least they will stay on and tell the time.

Once loaded onto your phone the management ap, the extras plug in and the like are all tied directly to your phone. This means if you change phones you have to reload and reselect everything for the watch.

The unit has the ability to vibrate when there’s an incoming text or email but the vibrate is so gentle and doesn’t repeat so is easy to miss. And to top it off no way to change the settings.

The screen is a touch screen and they have these unusual even bizarre actions like pinch to go back. Swipe is normal and select is ok, but the screen itself is not the most sensitive making it not easy to work with. The screen is next to impossible to read in the direct sunlight. Did Sony forget people need to know what time it is outdoors? And as usual there are no settings you can change for the screen brightness. Surely auto is good enough? For me this one is the killer for the watch.

I charged the battery on day one over night. It lasted a whole of 11 hours and then died. Your kidding right? Can’t even make it through a day with a watch? While charging the screen is totally blank. No indication of what is going on, is it 10% charged etc. Nada.

This gadget holds a great deal of promise. I like the idea. Sony have completely missed the target in my mind. At $149 the watch is not even a stand alone watch/alarm clock. What if my phone battery dies? Surely I wouldn’t need a watch with a dead phone? Your kidding right? Come on. Some firmware could fix a lot of these issues but for me, for now, the only way to describe this gadget is the little watch that thought it could (but couldn’t).

I’ll be returning this one in hopes of a better one in the future … sigh.


July 5, 2012 - Posted by | Android, Electronic gadget reviews

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