Sony introduced LiveView in 2010, a device which looked like a digital watch, equipped with Bluetooth and acted as a second display for your Android smartphone. While the concept was great and promising, it ended up in disappointment.
Sony has returned with second version of the LiveView called the Sony SmartWatch which comes with several improvements over its predecessor, including an OLED touchscreen, better wristband and clip, improved battery and more. The SmartWatch looks much more interesting gadget, but is it really worth buying? We will find out in this review .
Packaging and Box Contents
The watch came in Red and White Sony style packing like other Sony accessories. The watch and the black wristband are visible through the plastic .
Inside the box there were guides in different languages, metal adapter for custom watch wristband, USB charging cord, black wrist band and the watch itself.
The Sony Smartwatch has small 1.3 inch OLED color display with 128×128 resolution which is multi touch capable. It can be clipped on to clothes or to the supplied wristband. One can also use a custom wristband by using the supplied adapter.
The design is quite minimalist and there is only one power button on the right side. The screen is surrounded by a metallic silver bezel and the base and clip is white colored. It looks cool on the wrist and the design and touchscreen makes it instantly noticeable.
The included wristband is black colored and has a silver buckle with Sony logo. It is soft and very comfortable to wear and should fits most wrist sizes. Wristbands are also available separately in different colors for around $20.
The charging cable uses a proprietary 4 pin connector which plugs under the clip of the watch. It could have been better if it used a micro-USB cable instead.
Pairing & Connecting The SmartWatch
I connected the USB cable provided to the smartwatch and plugged it into USB port, it showed charging sign and let it charge for around 2 hours.
After it got charged completely, i removed the cable and turned it on, it it started showing the pairing mode sign on screen . Searched for it on phone and paired .
Then i downloaded the Liveware Manager ( Sony connect ) from Play store and the Smartwatch app .
After pairing and starting the SmartWatch app on phone , it showed a message that SmartWatch update version 0.1.a.3.7 is available , i clicked on update and it started downloading the update via Wi-Fi and updating the watch via Bluetooth . It took less than a min to complete the update process and displayed message ” Complete” .
The watch updated current time through the phone and started displaying clock .
So, pairing and connecting the SmartWatch is easy and once paired, it gets connected automatically when Bluetooth is on and watch is in range. Updating the smartwatch is also quick and easy process and the app notifies automatically when a new update is available.
But the major drawback here is that the watch does not have its own clock and doesn’t show time unless connected to the phone when powering it on. Once synced with phone it continues to display time even when phone is disconnected until its powered off.
Viewing And Installing Apps
The apps are managed from the Smart Connect app. The Smartwatch is listed in Device Tab and shown as connected in the notifications area , where one can see various options like -
Applications – It shows apps installed on the smartwatch & apps available for download . Apps like call handling , messaging , events , weather ,Facebook , twitter, music player , Endomondo etc are available .
Clocks – There are 3 clock faces available -
Large digital clock , small digital clock and Analog clock . On choosing a clock it is immediatly displayed on the smartwatch screen .
Usage Tips – This shows a demo of how to use the smartwatch and navigate on the screen .
Using the Watch
The UI on the watch is simple. The screen displays four icons at a time or one widget.
Tapping twice on the screen wakes up the watch, Swiping left and right one can browse through the installed apps, tapping on an app opens it. To go back , pinch with two fingers .
However, there are no settings adjustable from the watch. The screen brightness also cannot be changed.
Functionality & Available Apps
So is the watch really smart?
The watch offers decent functionality that you can expect from a Bluetooth watch. The Google play store also has a nice collection of third party apps available apart from the ones from Sony.
After installing the apps on the phone, the SmartWatch serves to display all basic notifications like SMS, Incoming calls, Facebook/Twitter updates etc. All the notifications are accompanied by vibration on the watch.
During incoming calls, it displays option to either silent the ringer or reject the call.
A 3.5mm headset jack on the watch could have made it much more useful to allow picking calls or use it as a wireless Bluetooth headset for music.
Incoming SMS can be read directly on the SmartWatch, below the messages there is an options button which gives options to view the message on phone, reply a “call me” message or call the sender.
During Facebook notifications, the watch vibrates and shows Facebook logo, on clicking it opens the widget and shows the notification.
There is a phonebook app also which displays the contacts tagged as Favorite on the phone. One can directly see these contact numbers and dial from the watch.
There is a Calendar app which displays upcoming events from phone calendar. Gmail and Email apps are also available.
Find Phone app lets you make the phone ring. In case u keep it somewhere nearby and its on silent mode, this app can make it ring even when there is no network.
Sports app called Endomondo is also available which shows various details like speed, bpm, time etc on the watch during workout.
Some cool third party apps are also there in Play Store. Quick Calc is there which is a calculator, its quite handy sometimes and has all basic functions which can be accessed by swiping across the screen.
Another app called VFinder is a viewfinder for the watch, it lets you view what the camera is seeing and click the pic from the watch itself.
Coming to widgets, there is a music player widget which can be used to control the music player on the phone. Its handly when you have a headset plugged in and do not want to remove the phone from the pocket for changing track or volume. There is Weather widget too.
Sony claims that the SmartWatch can last for a week with low usage , 3-4 days with typical usage and about a day with heavy usage.
The watch lasted for about 2 days with heavy usage after the first charge and after the second charge with normal usage it lasted for about 6 days.
The battery life is good enough but could have been better because one would not like to charge his watch frequently.
The Sony Smartwatch was launched in India at price of Rs 6,299, but it was not easily available and got sold out on most Sony stores. Sony has now increased the price and it now costs Rs. 8750.
It is certainly better and cooler than usual watch being more stylish and more functional . But has its own disadvantages. It does not store time in it so you need to have a mobile phone nearby to make it work as a watch. Also the screen is quite vulnerable to damages and its not water resistant. The price tag was more attractive initially but after the increased price it is quite expensive.
Also, for someone who owns a big smartphone/phablet, or a tablet with phone functionality, the watch can be quite handy as you do not have to take the device out during calls or SMSs to check.
So, if you are looking for a expensive watch which stands apart from usual watches with the added coolness and functionality factor, the SmartWatch is a good option.