SmartWatch: A smartphone for your wrist

Sony's new wrist-worn communication device brings our Star Trek future a baby step closer. Oh, and it tells time, too.

By Apr 13, 2012 4:09PM

Struggling electronics giant Sony (SNE), searching for a hit product to return it to the top tier of gadget makers, may have found the answer: The SmartWatch. Debuting in the U.S. a month after it wowed Britain, the $150 SmartWatch is a bit like a smartphone for your wrist.

You can read email and text messages on its 1.3-inch OLED multi-touch screen, control a music library, and even trigger the camera shutter on your Google (GOOG) Android smartphone.

Here's what you should know.

How does the SmartWatch work?
If you want the watch to do more than tell time, pair it with any smartphone running Android 2.1 or higher using the watch's Bluetooth 3 connection and a free app from the Google Play Store. You can then draw off your smartphone's wireless connection to run mini-apps. "It's best to think of the SmartWatch as a remote control for your Android smartphone," says Eric Zeman at InformationWeek.

What kinds of things can it do?
So far, the SmartWatch runs at least 30 mini-apps, with another 30 coming very soon, and "some of them already seem like must-haves," says Chris Velazco at TechCruch: Facebook, Google Maps, a remote for your music player, email and text messages, and fitness apps. Plus, "I would use the hell out of this Find Phone app when my Galaxy Nexus inevitably goes missing around the house."

The timepiece also lets you send short, preset emails and text messages, and it vibrates when you get an incoming call, says InformationWeek's Zeman. But "as neat as the SmartWatch is, it is more or less simply a watch if there's no smartphone around." It has no headphone jack, for instance, and you can't store any music on the watch itself. 

Is this the first watch-smartphone hybrid?
No. It's not even Sony's first effort: In 2010, the company rolled out the Sony LiveView with much fanfare and little success. "Thankfully, Sony saw fit to include a full multi-touch display this time around instead of the awkward edge-only navigation scheme seen in the SmartWatch's forebear," says TechCrunch's Velazco. But the market is actually getting a little crowded. In September, red-hot Kickstarter project "Pebble" will start selling smartwatches that connect via Bluetooth with Android handsets and iPhones. Motorola (MMI) also has the MOTOACTV, which actually runs Android and can be used independent of a smartphone.

What sets Sony's SmartWatch apart?
Price, for one thing. At $100 less than the MOTOACTV, "Sony definitely seems to be gunning for the masses," says TechCrunch's Velazco. And it is "definitely worth a second look" if you can't be bothered with "the hassle of digging your phone out of your pocket." Still, is it worth $150? says Dana Wollman in Engadget. "That's a conversation you best have with your wallet."

Sources: CNET News, Engadget, InformationWeek, TechCrunch, TIME

More from The Week:

Apr 13, 2012 6:27PM
Motorola had a wrist phone over 10 years ago..............blah...article....
Apr 13, 2012 8:50PM

Dick Tracy had a wrist phone like 60 years ago! Lol


Apr 14, 2012 2:42PM
Apr 13, 2012 8:45PM
"A remote control for your Android."  - This must be a joke!  Why in the world would a smartphone remote control be of any use to anyone?  Presumably your phone is right there in your pocket 2 inches from the watch! Pretty much everything they say this watch does can be done on any smartphone so I see no real reason why people would want to wear some nerdy watch when it's just as easy to pull out your smartphone.  Just like their 2010 watch, this will absolutely fail. 
Apr 13, 2012 8:45PM
good, now maybe my phone wont be taking pictures in my pocket anymore

Apr 16, 2012 11:52AM
does Dick Tracy come to mind ... SixTwo and Even...Over and out.....not a good idea...sorry
Apr 16, 2012 9:01AM
I just don't see a real use for this piece of POOpoo.  Like he said back in the 50's I can remember in the cartoons Dick Tracy had a watch phone.  It gave him a picture of who he was talking to.  We haven't gone that far just yet.  Don't want one.
Apr 16, 2012 10:58AM
The speed at which technology in this area is advancing is amazing, companies keep you spending on so called things you can't live without.  That said I'll save my money and get the implant phone in six months it's sure to come.
Apr 16, 2012 12:55PM
A friend of mine has this watch and stopped using it pretty much the day he got it. First off, it has no real watch capabilities, it gets its time from your phone, meaning if you don't have your phone with you, the watch doesn't know what time it is. Second, the bluetooth is unreliable and disconnects frequently if you are more than 3+ feet away from your phone. Not to mention it's pretty clunky. Maybe if they can work out the kinks it might be worth it, but I still don't see the point of it.
Apr 14, 2012 2:30AM

I agree with the posts that say this so called gadget is ho hum.

SONY do a real smartphone watch, instead of an accessory for a phone.

Bet Apple will one up it. 

Apr 13, 2012 6:53PM
i am a star trek fan that watch is A M A Z I N  GGGGGGGGGGG wowSmile
Apr 16, 2012 11:44AM

When they can start making wrist bracers that are like the ones in the Sci-Fi movies that talk to you, give you directions, tell you if your sick or hurt, and have holo projectors in them, thats when I will start buying them.  Its much more convient to have something hooked to your wrist, never have to worry about leaving somewhere or dropping it.  Make it waterproof also so you don't have to take it off unless you want to.

Apr 16, 2012 11:14AM

I c no real point...Anyway...ppl will will just end up stealin it anyway..


Apr 16, 2012 11:14AM

I c no real point...Anyway...ppl​ will will just end up stealin it anyway..


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