Sony has set out to be “different” with it”s SmartBand SWR10. Sure it’s an activity tracker but Sony bills the SWR10 and its companion app LifeLog as the accessory to log your life. That’s a pretty big claim, let’s see how it manages that huge challenge.
The brains of the SmartBand it a tiny white 6 gram gadget about the size of a small USB drive. Sony calls it the Core; Curved to fit your wrist the device sports a Mini USB port for charging and, a single button and three LEDs to tell you what it is doing. Once charged the device fits easily into the soft silicone wrist band..be careful to make sure the button is on the right side..there’s a bump for the button.. or else you won’s be able to see the LEDs.
The wrist band is pretty plain with a round silver button emblazoned with a Sony logo attached to the pegs that serve as the clasp. I found it the easiest of the bunch to close and the soft silicone makes it the most comfortable to wear fitness tracker of all that I have tried.
Now before you rush out and buy this thing be aware that the LifeLog app is only available for Android phones and will only work on phones with Android 4.4 KitKat and Bluetooth 4.o which limits it to the the latest top of the line smartphones. Oh yes and you have to install three..yes 3..apps to make it work. The LifeLog App, Sony Smart Connect app and another app to add the SWR10 to the Smart Connect app..Sheesh!
Sony’s promise for the SmartBand is “to keep track of everything you do”. It accomplishes this with the LifeLog. The app is a colourful display of all the data the band collects merged with data that your phone collects. So not just your steps, how far you walked, your sleep, and your estimated calories burned, but also information about when you were listening to music, calling people, or messing around on Facebook or the web. All that crammed into a visual timeline of your life. If take a photo with your phone it will be added to the timeline. You can double-click the one button on the SmartBand and add a “Life bookmark” that’s supposed to capture where you were at that moment and what you were doing. All it seemed to do was add your location and temperature to a map and provides a space for you to write a note.
I found the step measuring to be on the low side of reality..the distance was pretty accurate, I presume it calculates that from the phone’s GPS. The idea of capturing all your activities is a cool one and would certainly appeal to those who splash their lives all over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. There is only one problem..there is no way to share this collection of life data. A huge oversight in my mind.
Sony set out to make this a do everything device. Too bd it can’t tell time. The band will vibrate when you get incoming calls. It also vibrates if you move out of Bluetooth range of the phone..my wrist was constantly buzzing as I walked around the house with the phone upstairs in the office. It can also vibrate as a silent alarm clock, but it doesn’t go off at a specific time. It looks for a time within a half hour of your set time where you see to be almost awake before it buzzes. Makes for a gentle wakeup I suppose but, not good if you have a specific appointment.
You can use a combination of clicks on the button to control the music player on your phone. You can pause/play music, skip a track, or go back a track, all with a tap…when it works..I found it to be hit or miss and not that much more convenient that taking the phone out of my pocket.
Bottom Line: Sony has managed to produce a good looking comfortable device that doesn’t really do anything well. Sure the concept looks great but I think Sony took the SmartBand out of the oven too soon. In any case I think the time for this kind of device has past with the avalanche of smart watches coming out this year. Who wants to spend a hundred bucks for a device to put on their writ that doesn’t tell time when you can get it all for another hundred.
The Sony SmartBand SWR10 has a MSRP of $100 and is available from Sony online. However I have seen some carriers offering it for 30 bucks with a smartphone purchase so it may be worthwhile to shop around if you are in the market for both devices..