New Delhi: At first sight it might look tempting, but let me forewarn that this Sony SmartWatch is not for you if you don't have an Android phone. This is because, for the SmartWatch to function it has to be paired with an Android phone.
It adds some smarts to the timepiece. Users can view Facebook updates, tweets, emails, text messages, incoming calls and more on its 1.3-inch screen.
But is Rs 6,299 a worthwhile investment to save you the effort of pulling out your phone from the pocket? Read on to find out.
Is Rs 6,299 a worthwhile investment to save you the effort of pulling out your phone from the pocket?
Hardware and design
In spite of innovative design, it comes across as a Plain Jane. My experience of wearing the device for a week led to extreme reactions from people around me that ranged from plain disgust to absolute delight.
The SmartWatch comes with a clip on the rear with which you can attach the watch to a wristband that comes in the box or you can attach your own wristbands using the wristband adaptor.
Opinions may differ, but I didn’t quite like the black wristband that came with the unit. The white clip beneath the dial is also an eyesore. I know it is there for a purpose, but the point is that it spoils the look.
The watch has a power key located on the right side. It features an aluminium casing on the front and the rear bears a polished plastic look. The 1.3-inch multi-touch OLED display has a resolution of 128x128 pixels. I felt that the screen size could’ve been a little larger.
There is also a distinctively designed USB charging cable that comes bundled with the watch. This also means that unlike most modern mobile devices you cannot charge the Sony SmartWatch with a commonly available micro USB cable.
The watch can not be used as a standalone device, instead it has to be paired with an Android phone using a Bluetooth connection. In other words, this SmartWatch is an abridged version of your phone on your wrist.
You might take around half an hour to set up your SmartWatch as there are quite a few applications that need to be downloaded on your Android phone to make the watch operational. This might call for a little patience. The manual that comes along includes the details. So it is advisable that you read it upfront.
Because the watch is synced to the phone, the apps need to be installed on the phone for them to be accessible from the watch. The SmartWatch app is the key app that needs to be installed to set up and manage other watch-specific applications.
The SmartWatch app installed on the phone shows six options - Applications, Clocks, Sort Applications, Sort widgets, Usage Tips and About.
The Applications option displays all apps that you have installed for your watch and also helps you in searching other apps for your watch on Google’s Play Store. Users can manage apps from the application option - they can choose which applications they want to see on their SmartWatch by simply enabling/disabling a particular app. It’s also up to the user to decide that which apps he wants to see as a widget on the widget screen of the watch. Every app has its own settings.
The Clocks option offers three clock formats to choose from - the large digital clock or the small digital clock or the analog clock. The large digital clock shows big digits on the wristwatch screen and also is said to be the most battery-efficient clock option. But it can also be a minor nuisance because the display of the SmartWatch turns off after a short period, this means that to read time you either have to press either the power button or double tap the watch. It is an irritant especially when you are driving and want to check the time. But the small digital clock and the analog clock are displayed as long as the SmartWatch detects movement.
The Sort applications and Sort widgets options let you sort the order in which you want widgets and applications to appear on your SmartWatch display. Users can simply drag and drop the icon beside the application/widget name to sort the order in which they want widgets or applications to appear on the SmartWatch display.
It might take some time for users to get used to the user interface of the watch. There are two main views on the SmartWatch - the widget screen and the application screen.
As you turn the device on, the clock (the format that you have set) appears. Simply tap the screen as the clock appears and you will be taken to the widget screen. But what is a little annoying here is that if you have set the large digital clock then you have to tap once to go the widget screen and in case of other two clock formats, you are supposed to tap twice (and at times multiple times) to go the widget screen. I couldn’t comprehend the logic behind this.
Users can switch between the Widget screen and the Application screen by flicking up and down. To navigate the widget screen or the application screen, you can flick right or left. Users can go back to the previous screen by tapping with two fingers at the same time.
Applications - What all you can do with the watch
With the SmartWatch app, users can download other watch-specific apps (from the Play Store) on the phone paired with the watch.
Some of the the key apps include Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Call handling, Messaging and Phonebook. Let’s see what all you can do with these apps.
With the Gmail app installed, users can receive and view emails on the watch that come to their Gmail account added to the phone. It may sound cool, but reading emails on the small screen is a pain. Users can also receive and check notifications from Facebook and Twitter on their SmartWatch. Facebook updates can be liked directly from the watch. I installed all three of them, but using them weren’t any fun.
There is also a call handling app, which proved to be of some use while driving. When your phone rings, the SmartWatch displays the name or number of the caller. You can mute or reject the call from the watch, without having to pull out your phone from your pocket. But what disappoints is that it does not allow you to pick up calls. You can answer calls from your phone or from a Bluetooth headset paired with your phone. I wish this watch had a speaker and a microphone too.
Though you can not answer calls, but you can make calls from the watch to the numbers stored in the contact list of your phone. but it can be done if you have installed the phonebook app. After installing the app on your phone, you can favourite some contacts if you want a selected contact list to appear on the watch or you can select "All contacts," to bring all your contacts to the watch.
The messaging app lets you view text messages on the watch's display. When your phone receives a text message, you can view the sender’s information and content of the message on the watch. The user can also use SmartWatch to make a call to the sender or to send a predefined text message
Apart from these apps, there are others including the weather app to check the weather, a music player app to control the music player in your phone and the missed call app to view the missed call log on the watch.
The only app that I found of some use was the call handling app. While driving, it was easier for me to check that who was calling me up.
Some of the apps designed for this watch are available for free while others are paid. Other free apps include Find phone, GPS map, GPS viewer, Calendar events, QuickCalc and Endomondo sports tracker.
Performance and utility
The watch takes around two hours to get fully charged, and it can survive for around two days (at times, even three days), when put to normal use. But if it is heavily used, it can last only for a day.
On the utility front, that is meant to be its USP, the watch fails to impress. The only feature that I liked is call handling. For the rest, I preferred to use my phone instead.
It would have been great if Sony could also build this as a standalone Android phone.
The Sony SmartWatch failed to impress me. It may be a gadget to flaunt but according to me not of much utility in day to day use.
+ Quality display
+ Good battery life
- Pairing makes it a dependent gadget
- No speaker and microphone
- Small screen size
- Cumbersome controls
- Platform: Android
- Bluetooth 3.0
- Weight: 15.5 g main unit, 26 g watchband
- Screen Size : 1.3-inch multi-touch color OLED display
- Resolution : 128 x 128 pixels
- Operating System Compatibility : Android release 2.1 and up
- Operating range: 10 metres