A great start: Sony’s Smartband reviewed

Fitness gadgets may well be the new thing, but Sony’s take on the category isn’t just about fitness, instead focusing on what you do with your phone, not just what you do when you’re out and about, offering up a more complete picture of your life, and not just your health.

Features

You’re going to be seeing a lot of fitness wearables this year, so get used to them.

This week, we’re taking a look at Sony’s option in this category, a wrist band that can track your health and fitness, among other things, and report the information to an app for your smartphone.

Sony’s Smartband isn’t technically a band, though, with all of the sensors inside the tiny white gadget that sits inside the band. All the technology is inside this part, and there’s even a button for controlling the gadget, with an extended push of this button sending the Smartband gadget into either awake or sleep mode.

Some of the technology inside that little white section — called the “core” — includes Bluetooth 4.0 running over the Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) specification, Near-Field Communication technology, motion sensors, and a haptic motor for vibration feedback.

The Smartband’s core requires a Sony app to run, called “Lifelog,” with compatibility for Android phones running version 4.4, also known as “KitKat.” Support for Bluetooth 4.0 LE is required on the handset’s part, and as such, Sony suggests using either a Sony Xperia phone, or one of the following: LG’s Nexus 4 or Nexus 5, HTC’s One from either 2013 or 2014, and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S4, and Galaxy S5 smartphones.

Sony’s core can be used in any one of Sony’s Smartband wrist straps, with up to nine colours available.

One port can be found on the Sony Smartband core, and that’s the microUSB port, used for charging the Smartband battery.

Performance

Fitness gadgets are everywhere now. Just check out our wrists: we’re doing new ones weekly, and it’s beginning to feel like our arms are becoming light dumbbells for the purpose of reviewing technology.

The reason, though, that fitness gadgets are becoming hot property has to do with how much they can tell us, with connections from these gadgets to devices we rely on day to day.

Now that we’re all carrying around smartphones everywhere we go, our gadgets — which are now small enough to be worn without thinking about — can send information to these smartphones, helping us to track how we’re doing, not just on the computers at home.

In the past couple of years, we’ve seen a few tries at this area from Jawbone and Fitbit, among others, and now in 2014, it seems like smartphone makers are giving the area a good solid thwack.

Sony’s take on this area is a little different to the others, though, because while other fitness bands are about staying healthy and monitoring your sleeping patterns, Sony’s Smartband does a little more, and it’s something you’ll pick up on quickly when you start to use the wristband.

Link up your compatible device with the Smartband by way of NFC and get starting, downloading Sony’s required Lifelog application, which will show more than just information on the amount of steps you’ve walked, calories lost, and hours slept, with other boxes suggesting you’re doing more things. And that’s true, because as an owner of a phone, you are, in fact, doing more activities.

They might include talk to friends, taking photos, listening to music, playing games, and surfing the web, because these are activities people do with their phones.

Interestingly, these are all included with the Smartband, because the app is monitoring what you’re doing, not just the steps you’re walking and the minutes you’re sleeping, taking all of this information and compiling it into a more comprehensive representation of your life.

For instance, whenever you spend time in Chrome, this time is being tracked and charted, added to a graph showing your online usage across the day, week, month, and year.

When you decide to play games, this information is logged, tracked, and charted to the same set of measurements, and if you decide to listen to music with Google Play or Pandora, this too is tracked.

Essentially, Sony’s Smartband is more than just a picture of your health, it’s a picture of your life, and a reasonably complete one, at that.

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1 Comment

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  1. Allan Pitter
    September 09, 03:48 Allan Pitter

    The Smartband isn’t really that smart – it doesn’t know weekdays from weekends. When the alarm is set to wake you on weekdays only, you will be woken Tuesday to Saturday and no alarm on Sunday and Monday. This could be a great device if they can sync it with the calendar. There is also no option to set individual days of the week; some people who work different schedules than the weekdays do not have the ability to only wake on 2 or 3 days of the week.Hopefully the weekday problem with the device will be sorted soon or it will be come another dust gatherer. The Fitbit alarm is much more reliable.

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