Review: Sony SmartBand Talk

One thing we noted after two days of wearing the SmartBand Talk is that it desperately needs a stronger glass element over its screen, with noticeable scratches appearing through very, very minimal activity.

We’re reminded of the Pebble in some ways, because the first generation of that product missed out on Gorilla Glass and amassed scratches pretty easily, usually from when your dog decided to paw you, or you quickly moved past a wall without thinking.


It’s the same on the SmartBand Talk, which built up quite a few scratches quickly, and surprised us immensely.

Most of Sony’s mobile gadgets come with a degree of ruggedisation too, making this lack of scratch-resistance a little odd. You’ll find water-proofing up to a little over a metre here, but nothing in the way of scratch protection. It’s strange.

Also strange is the inability to detect when you’re awake with the alarm going off, even though the SmartBand is sending information to the phone showing that you’re using the phone.

We decided to see how far we could take this during the course of our testing, and on one day, the smart alarm — which is supposed to wake you up as you’re on the way out of a sleep cycle — continued to pester us every ten minutes if we snoozed it even though it was clear we were moving.

It buzzed and buzzed and buzzed even though we were using our phone to play games, even though we were on Twitter and social networking, or even browsing the web.


It’s also a rather unusual comment on how the Smart Alarm works, because Sony’s Lifelog picks up on your phone usage and compiles an animated picture of what you’re doing through the course of a regular day, and these activities — the ones that proved we were actually awake — were logged, even though both the app and the piece of hardware insisted that we were asleep.

I guess it knows us better than we know ourselves. Or something is wrong. We’ll go with the latter.

This is obviously one of those things that needs fixing, though we’re surprised it’s here, and that the two gadgets aren’t talking to each other in a more logical manner.

Touch the screen to move throughout the options on the menu.
Touch the screen to move throughout the options on the menu.

Some other things about how the SmartBand Talk works bother us a bit, such as the touchscreen, which requires a very heavy touch to work. We suspect this is because the not-so-scratch-resistant screen pulls back on the sensitivity of the electronic ink touchscreen, but you’ll find this does require a pretty heavy touch to get the SmartBand jumping screens.

In fact, with the buttons along the edge of the device, you’d be excused for thinking they do more than just menu jumping and volume, but this is all they do.

There are other things missing, such as that notifications tend to pile up and not go away which will become an annoyance over the course of a day, there’s pretty much no customisation offered for the the way the clock and home screen look, and you can only dedicate a quick contact for one person.

Some of these issues feel like things Sony could fix with a simple patch, and others are probably going to be like this throughout the course of this gadget’s life.

And sure, nothing is perfect, but some of these glitches are, at the very least, surprising.

Don't like the black band or want to wash it? You can simply remove the clips holding it in.
Don’t like the black band or want to wash it? You can simply remove the clips holding it in.


Is Sony’s SmartBand Talk an improvement on the original? Maybe, but it won’t be for everyone, and Sony isn’t helping the situation much with only one operating system supported, a small amount of touch interaction, and a screen that can barely take the most minor of beatings.

We liked the original, and for a $50 premium, this newer SmartBand seems more compelling, though months later from the first generation Sony SmartBand, you can now find that first model for a fair amount less, fetching street values closer to $60 to $140.

We don’t think many would pay the high end of that tag, especially when there are more options out there from other companies, and we’re not sure this e-ink equipped SmartBand really matches its current price, either.

That said, if you like Sony and you like being able to see the time in sunlight, while also being able to see a notification here and there (and aren’t fond of smartwatches yet), this will offer that feature on your wrist, and will do it for a few days without needing a charge.

Can't find the SmartBand Talk? No worries, the app will help out.
Can’t find the SmartBand Talk? No worries, the app will help out.
Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Very easy to see in sunlight; Light and comfortable to wear; Does some of the things a smartwatch would do, but on a budget; Three to four day battery life; Charges through microUSB, so no proprietary charger (woot!);
Electronic ink screen needs some Gorilla Glass or mineral strengthening, as it scratches easily; Waking alarm won’t automatically detect when you’re upright and moving, or even using your phone altogether, and continues buzzing regardless; Touchscreen requires very heavy touch; Very little in the way of customisation for home screen look; Can only call one person; Repeats message notifications if never clicked and more come in (meaning if you never check John’s email, but Jane messages after John, John’s notification will keep alerting you);