The whole fitness tracking thing has become bigger than huge. Nowadays its mandatory for a smartphone maker to have a wearable widget amongst their product line up.
Sony may be late to the fitness tracker party but they've made up for lost time thanks to the Sony SmartBand (AKA the SWR10), a fitness tracker band.
Being late to enter the market gives Sony a few advantages. First and foremost they've avoided rookie errors by watching and learning from their competitors' mistakes. Perhaps the biggest error made by many is the unleashing of bulky and ugly devices on an unsuspecting public.
Sony remedied this by making the SWR10 both light and discreet. Another were the hamfisted attempts to lock customers into manufacturers' ecosystems. Sony's widget will work with most brands of Android phones providing they're running Android 4.4 and use Bluetooth 4.0 so you're not locked into the Sony universe.
The SWR10 is also water-proof with a long battery life so it'll handle most bumps and knocks.
My fitness regime consists of a few elbow warm up exercises - raising a pint and tearing open chip bags - so I was naturally curious to see how the SWR10 fitted into a hectic lifestyle.
Look and Feel
The short answer is that I soon forgot I was wearing it. The SmartBand is a good looking piece of wearable gear. While a lot of other fitness trackers look like something people under house arrest should be wearing, the simple black band of the SWR10 and the small stainless steel clasp could easily be mistaken for a watch or custom jewellery.
The SWR10 is also light. This mightn't sound all that important in the grand scheme of things, but if you're going to be wearing it night (it can monitor sleep patterns) and day you'll want to forget you're wearing it.
Two pieces make up the SWR10. A band and a small electronics package that contains the smarts. The electronics package slips inside the strap and is slightly curved to provide a comfy fit on your wrist. It's a pretty minimal piece of equipment, with only one button and three small LED indicator lights to show how much charge its holding.
Speaking of which, it also sports a microUSB port so it can get a voltage fix.
The beauty of this setup is that the bands are swappable and should you wish to do so, you can plunk the tracker widget into a different coloured strap. The SmartBand electronics package is pretty durable and is IP58-certified, so it can take a dunking in 1.5-meters of water for up to 30 minutes.
Getting paired up was a pain-free process as the SWR10 supports NFC which in practice meant I could just tap it against the Experia Z2 review phone.
The SWR10 is essentially a pedometer that can track steps for runners or walkers. It'll also monitor your sleep and will wake you up with a silent alarm. Incoming calls/emails/texts also cause it to vibrate so you need never miss that call again, even if your phone is on silent mode.
Should you be wearing the tracker but leave your phone at home, it'll also store steps and other data which will handily be synced up when you're next within Bluetooth range of your phone. This means that the only real worry you've got with it is keeping it charged (its battery life was just shy of a full 5 days, making ideal for wearing during a working week).
Data is synced to the Lifelog app which is a free download and records social media interactions as well as steps taken. These are measured against goals set by the user who can also play back the day's activities to see when bursts of activity happened.
If that's the good, then here's the not so good. Aside from its 3 indicator LEDs, the SWR10, doesn't have a display. This may equate to a decent battery life, but its absence is bit of a shame as being able to see who called or even being able to tell the time by glancing at your wrist would've sealed the deal.
The Sony SmartBand ticks a lot of boxes. It is unobtrusive, easy on the eye and will work with Android phones that aren't Sony branded. With water resistance and a 5 day battery life, there's a whole lot to like. Hopefully the next iteration will incorporate a display.
Compatibility: Devices running Android 4.4 and Bluetooth 4.0
Indicators: 3 LED
Wrist straps Available in 9 colours (sold separately)
Water Resistance: IP58 rated
Controls Life Bookmark key
Media remote (tap function)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0
Micro USB (charging)
CPU: ARM Cortex-M0 32 bit process
LEDs: Three white LED
Memory: Flash 256kB internal embedded flash