Sony isn’t new to the wearables game–in fact, it has two Android-compatible smartwatches out already. Naturally, it had to jump on the Android Wear bandwagon, but it seems moreso out of desperation rather than an attempt to innovate. The new Sony SmartWatch 3 is a bland, uninspired Android Wear watch. At least Sony made some effort with its new fitness wearable, the SmartBand Talk.
Sony’s Smartwatch, take three
This is Sony’s third smartwatch entry in the Android market, but it’s nothing really worth fawning over. Like the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, it’s fueled by a 1.2GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of on-board storage. Its performance should be along the same lines as those competing Android Wear watches.
The SmartWatch 3 seems to only exist so that Sony can claim that it’s also in the Android Wear alliance—y'know, after snubbing it earlier this year. The SmartWatch 3 is a bland, uninspired product and the clasp on the back of the strap that comes standard with it is hard to adjust and fit to a wrist. At least the watch itself doesn't weigh much.
I do appreciate Sony’s idea of the “technological core,” however, which is the promise that all the technology of its wearables are contained within one physical module that you can easily pop into different bands or clips. That might also explain why this particular product is so bland—Sony wants you to make it your own—but it comes off as a product that was rushed to market.
The SmartWatch 3 will arrive with the latest Android Wear software, as well as additional software features that work with Sony’s varying entertainment apps, like Walkman for Android. Unfortunately, the watches were in Android Wear demo mode, so I was unable to test any of those features.
Fitness through e-ink
The SmartBand Talk is a fresh take on the fitness tracker. It's always on, and its e-ink screen ensures you can see it out in the sunlight. It features compact sensors for activity tracking and auto-sleep detection, so you won’t have to remember to double-tap it before you fall asleep. There’s also an altimeter, which can tell if you’re climbing stairs, and a built-in microphone and speaker for voice commands and quick phone calls (when paired with a phone—it doesn't make calls on its own). Sony says a fully charged SmartBand Talk will last up to three days. It's also IP68 certified for swimmers and hikers.
Most fitness trackers offer minimal to no information until you actually sync up the wearable with a mobile device, but Sony made it so that all of your essential information is actually displayed on the device itself. You can glance at it to see how many steps you’ve taken, or press a button on the right side to cycle through other functions. With the companion app you can pin up to nine different functions, like the ability to snap your fingers to start blaring a playlist from your smartphone.
The SmartBand Talk reminds me a lot of my FitBit, which the Sony representatives didn't seem to appreciate. I don't see its as an issue, however; it's a functional, recognizable design that works. The band is a bit textured and feels rubbery, but it’s removable so that you can swap it out for something else if you’re one of those people who changes the style of their clothes every week.
Both the SmartWatch 3 and SmartBand Talk should be out later this fall. We'll have more for you, including a thorough review, when they become available.