Wearable Tech Review: Sony Smartwatch 2

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Wearable Tech Review: Sony Smartwatch 2

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It's no secret that I haven't been too impressed with some of the smartwatch offerings which have hit the market. Matter of fact, I detailed some of my frustrations in an article here. With that established, if you take a look at the current crop of smartwatches available to the public right now, I have to say that Sony's Smartwatch 2 is among the best out at this exact moment. That could change as this year goes on with offerings coming from Samsung, Martian and others but if you can't wait, you should hit your local Sony store and check one out.

Let's get this out of the way... the watch is still an accessory and to take advantage of the majority of features, you'll need to be connected to a phone. The Smartwatch 2 has a beautiful display with serviceable battery life despite that, looks great, is just the right size (though that's very personal), and has a large enough pool of third-party apps to make things interesting! Though the watch body is only available in black, you can choose from multiple watchbands available from Sony, including a black metal band. The display is a 1.6" LCD display at 220x176 pixels which you can actually read well in direct sunlight. Thank Neptune, the watch is also water-resistant and stands up to dust ingression thanks to its IP57 certification. The Smartwatch 2 supports NFC pairing, is Bluetooth 3.0 equipped and charges via microUSB. I've averaged around 3 days of heavy use between charges which still isn't ideal as far as I'm concerned but for a color display that looks as good as this one does, it is certainly much better than the 24 hours I got with Samsung's first effort, the Galaxy Gear.

Right out of the box, you get the ability to use your watch as a remote to answer/end or make calls, set different watchfaces, use a timer, stopwatch, and alarm. There's no speaker on the watch so you'll also need a Bluetooth earpiece to really take advantage of using the watch to initiate calls. You'll also be able to go through a call log on the watch to check out your recent calls. You also get apps to cover most of what many of us are already monitoring on our phones without having to hit the Google Play store when you pair the watch to a Sony phone eqipped with Xperia Twitter, Facebook, etc. The apps you have installed on the phone that show up in Sony's Smart Connect app will be pushed to your watch when you access the settings menu for your Smartwatch 2 in the Smart Connect app. There are third-party apps in the Play store to fill any holes you may feel exist within the included app offerings. For instance, if you want some serious fine grain control over the notifications appearing on your watch, you can give apps like Augmented SmartWatch Pro and Notify SmartWatch 2. You can spend more time than you probably have, going through the menus on Augmented SmartWatch Pro and fine tuning everything to your heart's content. There are apps which allow you to use your phone as a camera remote for your smartphone and even an app for my new favorite edtech toy, Sphero. In my opinion, that's what it takes to really make these watches usable is a robust developer community and from my browsing the Play store, it would appear that Sonly's SmartWatch 2 definitely does not suffer from a lack of enthusiast zeal.

From a design perspective, I really do like the SmartWatch 2! The beefy 24 mm wide straps look great on my arms, though people with more petite watch hangers may find them a little large. The watchface is large and square, not any thicker than my previous daily driver, a Citizen Pro Master SST Eco-Drive LE Ti which is in itself a beefy chronograph so I'm a little biased when it comes to watch sizes. That said, if you have small arms or don't necessarily prefer larger watches then that Sony store visit is definitely in order before purchasing. One the watch you'll find only one button protruding, the power/sleep/wake button and then opposite that, the microUSB port which comes complete with a cover to help you keep that watch water-resistant. Speaking of water-resistant, that protection is absolutely necessary in a watch, though some manufacturers have omitted it. Sony's Smartwatch 2 is IP57 certified which means that you can dunk the ticker in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes... just make sure that USB port is firmly closed.

In all, I have to say that I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed wearing and using Sony's Smartwatch 2. The app support, the robust notification options, the appearance, it works for me- today. There are other options which have just been announced that will definitely give this watch a run for its money and this being Sony's second effort, I definitely can't wait to see what Sony eventually releases should they decide that a Smartwatch 3 is worth the effort. Based on this effort though, I'd say, Sony... go for it! More options are never a bad thing. You can pick up the Sony Smartwatch 2 from sony.com for $169.99 right now. It usually retails for $199.99.

Tshaka Armstrong Tech Ninja Tshaka Armstong writes about the latest technology and helping FOX 11 Viewers understand how to be safer, smarter users of the internet and their "gadgets. He's also one of our social media guys, helping guide the station's online efforts and social media outreach.
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