Kate's Comment

Thoughts on British ICT, energy & environment, cloud computing and security from Memset's MD

Sony SmartWatch 2 review

I recently decided it was time for some upgrades. However, my trusty Samsung Galaxy S2 is perfectly adequate for my needs so I felt it would be a waste to get rid of that.

I had been seeing the Samsung Gear adverts around which promoted me to start investigating. I quickly came to the conclusion that the Gear (a “smart watch” which interfaces with your phone) was a) too expensive and b) too restricted (it only works with Samsung products, and not my S2). Instead I bought a Sony SmartWatch 2 (see pic).

There are lots of different apps you can download for the smart watch, which is essentially just an additional touchscreen for your phone. Now that I am walking a lot more, including in my morning commute, and normally have everything including my phone in my backpack rather than a handbag (had to ditch it; with Mac Air, iPad, and other gubbins was hurting my back!) so my phone is not easily accessible. I was therefore hoping that the smart watch would allow me to do the basic phone tasks without needing to actually get at my phone!

It has exceeded my expectations. As you can see, the screen is more than adequate for reading text messages. I can also use it to control my phone’s music player (I use iSyncr to sync iTunes to my Android phone by the way – no more iPod!) from my wrist which is very handy, and I can see who is calling so I can decide whether to let it go to voicemail or not.

Watchn

The most surprisingly useful feature however is that the SmartWatch can vibrate. I thought this a bit pointless to begin with, but then I installed Wristn.

Being a busy person I have always been terrible at noticing notifications and reminders, including about important things like upcoming appointments; often I might not be looking at my laptop or my phone might be on silent. Perhaps more to the point, even if I do hear my phone bleep I’m often too distracted to bother to look and see what it was.

With Watchn I am alerted to every single notification with a little vibrate, and it takes only moment to glance at the SmartWatch’s face to find out what it was. Very useful indeed, especially since so many other apps can be configured to generate Android notifications.

Conclusions

The SmartWatch 2 is not perfect by any means. The rubber strap is not especially comfortable when resting wrists on the desk to type and there do not seem to be colours other than black available yet (only for the SmartWatch 1). The selection of apps is also quite limited, but I expect this will improve over time.

The other thing that might become irritating is having to recharge it every few days. In practice however I just need to get some more micro USB chargers by my bedside (I’ve now three things to charge each night). So far the battery life seems pretty good but I’m not convinced it will last a full week as advertised; we’ll see.

However, overall for £100 (ex. VAT) I am delighted. My next planned watch purchase was a £2,500 Tag Heuer chronograph, and of late I had taken to wearing my Suunto D4i dive computer as a watch. By contrast the SmartWatch 2 seems a bargain, especially given the capabilities.

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