Almost lost amongst the hubbub surrounding Sony’s smartphone and TV launches at CES was an exciting little product for Android smartphone owners.
The SmartWatch is a wearable Bluetooth 3.0 device that, like a watch, sits on your wrist but has added functionality through pairing with an Android phone.
Some may remember the similar, promising-but-ultimately-failed Sony Ericsson Live View that launched in 2010, crippled by its buggy performance when paired with anything other than Sony Ericsson smartphones. The SmartWatch should have no such problems, promising to support handsets from Sony, HTC, Motorola, Samsung and others.
Featuring a 1.3-inch OLED (65k color) touch screen, the Smartwatch can be used to quickly take a look at SMS messages, emails, weather reports or notifications from social networks like Twitter and Facebook, alerting you with a brief vibrate and displaying a small user icon. It can also be used to make, receive (and screen) calls.
Packaged with a wristband and wristband adapter, the SmartWatch has the potential to expand with new apps custom built for it (developers can learn more at the Smart Extension SDK). A built-in accelerometer for instance would make the perfect partner for a fitness app.
Battery life will be a big usability issue with the SmartWatch; nobody wants to have to charge their wristwatch ever couple of hours. However, Sony claim a promising battery life of a week with only moderate use. Those using the SmartWatch to compulsively track their Twitter feed will likely only squeeze a day’s worth of juice out of it however. Also, in an attempt to keep battery drain to a minimum, the screen’s timepiece isn’t always on show. Instead, a button must be pressed before the screen springs to life and you can check the time, which, while sensible in terms of battery consumption, could prove annoying for those looking to quickly check the time on the fly.
Due out in the US in March, expect to pay around $149 for the Sony SmartWatch. We’ll pass on any UK release details as we get them.