The Sony SWR10 Smartband made its debut this month as a general purpose personal quantifier.
That means plenty of standard fitness routines are tracked and the device itself is missing some of the fancier stuff, like a display, but the Android software can follow a few other interesting habits outside of your fitness routine.
The Sony Smartband is a fairly straightforward affair from a hardware standpoint. A small curved capsule has a micro USB charging slot on one of the short ends, and a button followed by three indicator lights on a single long edge. This pops into a silicon wristband easily and snugly. Once charged and given a tap against the back of your phone, the Smartband uses NFC to pair up and deliver information all day long over Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy. The Sony Smartband is extremely comfortable and stylish enough to get by. I could easily wear it all day and all night with zero irritation. The silicon band comes in two wrist sizes, plus standard adjustment holes along the band.
Though it's hard to see a rubber band as an especially classy accessory, the circular metal clasp actually accents it very nicely. There are nine colors available to purchase separately for those really interested in fashion, but I stuck with the black one included in the box which was nice and understated. I never bumped into a situation where it stood out or I had people asking me about it, which is exactly what you want from something that just hums along without interrupting your daily routine. Battery life is solid, and gets me a couple of days of moderate to low activity. It lists 5 days battery life, which is in line with what I experienced. Of course, with Bluetooth on all day, your phone is likely to drain a little more quickly than usual.
For all of its lack of flash in the hardware department, the Sony Smartwatch software actually has a lot to offer. There are two parts of set-up on the mobile side. First off, you need the Sony Smart Connect app to pair up and handle settings. Smart Connect can also automate a few tasks if you like, such as mute your phone when it's plugged in at night, and re-enable it when you unplug it in the morning. Then you get the Lifelog app and punch in your age, weight, and height. Lifelog can help you figure out calorie burn like usual, and tracks your steps, time spent walking, time spent running, and time spent sleeping. I've found this tracking more or less accurate. I take big strides, so once in awhile it confuses walking with running. The unit's totally waterproof, but that goes to waste since there's no specific swimming fitness tracking. These activities are all shown on a timeline on the top section of the app, which can be replayed whenever you like. Lifelog will also give you a little buzz if it loses its connection to your phone as a reminder that you might have forgotten it somewhere, and can gently vibrate to wake you up in the morning or when you're getting a phone call. Generally, this is all standard fare among fitness bands.
Then Lifelog starts keeping an eye on which apps you use, and tracks how much time you spend communicating, or taking photos, listening to music, watching movies, playing games, reading books, or browsing the web. You can set daily goals for each and every one of these metrics, or pare down which of these you really want to see, and track longitudinal progress in each by day, week, month, or year. With location tracking, you can see where your jogging adventures take you, though as you can see above, it's a bit erratic. Events can be manually added at any point of the day for future reference. There's even a respectable batch of other apps in Google Play for the Smartband, including one that remotely rings your phone when you've lost it. Another can let you use your Smartband to remotely fire the shutter on the device camera, or you can handle media playback with a few taps on the Smartband itself.
The Bottom Line
The Sony SWR10 Smartband was actually a nice choice for me, since I'm not a fitness nut by any means, so estimating and tracking my calorie burn rate and other metrics hold little value. Contextualizing my odd workout with information like sleep cycles is great, and gives me a very clear look at how much time I'm spending on my phone (i.e. too much). It would be great to see other apps plugging into this, such as Foursquare check-ins, or noticing when you're logged into Xbox for automatically tracking your gaming time. Some kind of dietary tracking is really necessary for an all-in-one solution. Having activities pop up on the map would provide a full-spectrum look at what you were doing and when, but at its core, Smartband has a lot of good ideas going for it. Real fitness enthusiasts will probably want something more specialized with a dedicated display, but for those that have a broad interest in wearables, the Sony SWR10 Smartband is a great little number.