As well as new phones and tablets, Sony has launched some brand new Smartwear at IFA 2014. As well as the SmartWatch 3, we checked out Sony’s new SmartBand Talk, a waterproof wristband with an e-ink display for incredible battery life. Here’s our full hands-on review.
Sony SmartWatch 3
Sony’s SmartWatch 3 is obviously the follow-on from last year’s SmartWatch 2 and the first Sony watch running on Android Wear, Google’s very own smartwatch OS. We had a chance to go hands-on and so far, like the Xperia Z3 smartphone, it seems like a slick-if-not-revolutionary upgrade – although Android Wear is definitely a good step forwards.
Like the SmartWatch 2, Sony’s third smart wearable is water and dust resistant (now IP68, so it can survive in 1.5m of water for 30 minutes) and comes in a range of colours. The 1.6-inch transflective display boasts a 320×320 resolution, plenty sharp for reading emails on the go.
Best of all, the SmartWatch 3 works independently of your smartphone, similar to Samsung’s Gear S but without the need for a SIM card. For instance, joggers can carry music on the watch’s 4GB of built-in storage, hooking up to a Bluetooth headset to stay entertained on the run. The SmartWatch 3 has built-in GPS so it’ll log your session, then you can save your run when you get back via Sony’s Lifelog app, connecting to your phone via NFC.
The SmartWatch 3’s NFC function can also be used to control your telly, and as a remote control to take pics with an NFC-enabled camera lens, such as Sony’s G Lens.
One of the more intriguing features is Sony’s new Lifelog app, which tracks every part of your life, not just any exercise that you may or may not have done. That includes movies you’ve watched, music you’ve listened to and photos you’ve taken. We’ll be grabbing a full hands-on soon to do a review.
Another thing we love about the SmartWatch 3 is the built-in charging port on the back (covered by a flap to keep the watch water resistant). We’re sick of using docks to charge our watches, something that plagued the Samsung Gear range and the LG G Watch, especially given how quickly their batteries drain. Not ideal if you’re the office and your dock’s stuck at home.
The port doesn’t add much to the watch’s girth: it’s still just 51mm thick, and around 38g in weight. You can also snap the ‘core’ right out of the rubber wrist strap and replace with another colour at any time.
The Sony SmartWatch 3 is coming in Autumn in black, white, pink and lime, for 229 Euros. A UK price is yet to be revealed, but we’re expecting £179-£199.
Sony SmartBand Talk
Sony’s new SmartBand Talk is a ‘sleek and stylish waterproof lifeogger’ in Sony’s own words, rocking an always-on curved e-ink display. This is one of the first e-ink watches we’ve seen, which promises decent battery life despite constantly displaying the time, thanks to the low power requirements.
The SmartBand Talk can be used for call handling thanks to the built-in mic and speaker, and it’s HD Voice enabled for crystal clarity (or as good as you’d hope for given that you’re talking into your wrist). You get a full hour of talk time per charge, so you really can pretend you’re Dick Tracy or some kind of malevolent space alien. If that’s your bag.
There are also compact sensors such as an accelerometer and an altimeter hidden inside the band that not only track your daily activities, including how far you’ve walked and how many flights you’ve climbed, but also automatically detect when you’re asleep.
The SmartBand Talk’s interface is as simple as it comes. Normally you’ll see the time displayed, but you can push a menu button to cycle through the activity trackers to see how active you’ve been, and how close you are to beating your daily target. Don’t expect anything more jazzy than that.
At 9.5mm the SmartBand Talk is rather chunky, but it’s also incredibly light at just 26g including strap. So light in fact that it feels like a toy. Thankfully it’s water resistant like the SmartWatch 3, so can be dunked in a bath for half an hour or so and suffer no ill effects.
That 1.4-inch e-ink screen boasts a 288×128 resolution (192dpi) so clarity is good, and the non-reflective surface is great when used outdoors. Definitely a plus when you’re jogging in bright sunlight. Sony reckons it doesn’t sap much power either, giving three days of use between charges.
The Sony SmartBand Talk is available in Autumn for 159 Euros. A UK price is yet to be revealed but we’d expect around £129-149. You can buy extra straps for 25 Euros.