With the popularity of the iPod Nano and its watch ‘functionally’ many mobile manufacturers have since been getting in on the emerging smart watch market. We at Stylish Chap were given the chance to review Sony’s latest Smartwatch courtesy of Phones4U.
Reviewing this over a period of one week was a good way to see how it performed, and how it made a difference to one’s daily activity. The idea of experiencing the benefits of having all notifications just a wrist flick away was intriguing.
Un-boxing it was simple, it contained the Smartwatch, a black and white strap and a charging wire. Connecting the Smartwatch to my Note 2 was a bit more tricky. Reading the quick install guide let me know that I would have to install an app from the Play Store. Once I found it I saw that the app required yet another app to run which was initially very confusing. Once both Sony’s ‘Smart Connect ‘ (formerly LiveWare Manager) and the Smartwatch app was installed the Watch easily connected via Bluetooth.
The Smart Connect app allows multiple gadgets to connect via Bluetooth, it is a manager for all Sony’s Bluetooth accessories. The SmartWatch app is a separate app that links with Smart Connect. The Smartwatch requires each app to be downloaded from the Play store…so facebook, twitter, notifications need to all be installed. The good thing is this is all made simple with the Smart Connect app as everything that can be installing on the watch is listed within the app.
The Bluetooth connection seemed to reach around 4 meters away from my phone, which is fairly standard for all things Bluetooth. The app works and functions really well with a clean easy to use interface. While connected it displays an icon on androids system tray and lets you access the Smartwatch settings from the notification drawer. Its effective because once you have installed the apps you want and set-up everything on your phone you can forget about it and let it run in the background.
After getting all the apps from the Play Store we tested each one out. Twitter and text message notifications worked well. Everytime there was a tweet the watch produced a good vibration. It was easy to see the benefits of having alerts and caller id’s showing up on the screen, especially while using Bluetooth headphones where you can’t see who’s calling or can’t see the song that’s playing. So from a visual notification standpoint the watch performs great. Unfortunately that is where the positives tends to end.
The Smartwatch begins to show its flaws when you really try to use the device. Navigating through the apps and widgets was painful and uncomfortable. The touchscreen failed to respond many times to tapping and swiping. Double tapping wasn’t recognized and tapping the screen to show the time (as described in the manual) didn’t work at all! We only managed to get this to work once while hitting the screen extremely hard. Fortunately the device has a button, pushing this shows the time when needed – much easier. It seems as though Sony rushed this product out, the touchscreen quality is poor and unresponsive, the screen resolution a measly 128 x 128px is shockingly bad, this is what one would expect to see from 7 year old LCD screen.
The battery life didn’t impress either with the device lasting about 16 hours with no activity other than checking the time and a few notifications varying to around 7 hours of heavy usage including checking widgets and apps. It also doesn’t help that Sony is using a proprietary charge cable instead of the widely used universal mini USB that we all use to charge our various gadgets.
Look and Feel
The Smartwatch does look and feel like a premium product. It has a nice weight to it which isn’t too heavy. Sony is well known for great hardware and this is constructed very well even though it isn’t using the best components available. One major gripe one has is the clip, its unnecessary for this to be on the watch. We can’t imagine it being used by anyone, and when the watch is on your wrist it adds about 4 mm of bulk that feels very uncomfortable. Sony could easily have fixed this with a removable clip or no clip at all, and the strap being connected to the watch face itself.
Sony’s first attempt seems somewhat poor and rushed. With a bit more thought, more effort on product design, software and a better touchscreen this could have been a hit. Right now there are way too many cons that outweigh the pro’s. It can clearly be improved upon and we must remember that the Smartwatch market is in it’s infancy. Play the waiting game and let manufacturers perfect the Smartwatch… because there will be plenty more choice in the near future.
Thanks to our friends at Phones4U for providing us with the LiveView Touch Generation 2 SmartWatch