Showing posts with label 3G Smartwatch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 3G Smartwatch. Show all posts

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sony SmartWatch 3 Review: The Best-Performing Android Smartwatch Yet

Sony's been trying the smartwatch thing for years, but the original SmartWatch and theSmartWatch 2 both... what's the word I'm looking for here? Sucked? Yeah. But the SmartWatch 3 has solid performance and two nifty features you won't find on any other Android Wear. It'sthe first with built-in GPS and a screen you can read without backlighting.
Android Wear watches are off to a pretty decent start. The Moto 360, the LG G Watch R, and the Asus ZenWatch are all lovely and useful in their own ways. So why might you buy a Sony smartwatch instead?
Because this year, Sony did something smart. It abandoned its own (train-wreck of a) smartwatch OS and opted to use Android Wear. Android already has hundreds of apps that are optimized to work with Wear, letting you do things like manage notifications, call a car, follow recipes or navigation directions, and sure-why-the-hell-not, right or left-swipe in Tinder. It's actually very intuitive and easy to use, and it's frequently easier to give your wrist a glance than to pull out your phone and unlock it just to see why it's been buzzing.
The good news is that the Sony SmartWatch 3 lets Android Wear do its thing without getting in the way. (If only more phones were that way!) Android Wear runs fast and smoothly on the watch, which is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core ARM Cortex A7 and 512MB of RAM. That's more or less standard for Android Wear, though some manufacturers have gone with older, slower, more power-hungry processors, and performance suffers. Not the SmartWatch 3: out of every Android Wear device I've tried—and I've tried them all—it's the most stable.

But I don't know if I'd call it handsome. It's not unattractive, it's just kind of there, which is okay. Basically, you've got a simple black rectangular body with notable bezels set in a black rubber watch band finished with a silver clasp. The clasping mechanism is definitely nice, easy to pop in and out of, but secure enough that there's next to no chance it'll fall off your wrist. There's a single button on the right side for waking up the screen and quickly accessing settings. That's about it. Definitely not nearly as handsome as the Moto 360 or Asus ZenWatch.
The utilitarian construction does give the Sony another benefit, though: it's waterproof down to five feet for half an hour, which is more than than its Android Wear brethren. While I wouldn't recommend taking it into the water because the screen freaks out like you're pressing it with a thousand fingers at once, it's nice to have that peace of mind.

The watch's display is a rectangular, 1.6-inch transflective TFT LCD. So what the heck does transflective mean? Well, as the name suggests, it's a display that can both transmit light and it can reflect ambient light. This means that in most lighting situations (i.e. outside use, or reasonably well-lit indoors) you can read the screen without having to wake up the backlight. It's particularly useful outdoors. The sun still washes out the colors, but it's pretty readable.
The SmartWatch 3 also has the biggest battery of any Android watch to date at 420mAh, narrowly besting the 410mAh pack in the LG G Watch R. That, combined with that transflective screen and an efficient processor gives it the best battery life of any Android Wear device so far. The G Watch R usually got me about 40 hours of usage on a charge, but the SmartWatch 3 routinely nets over 48 hours. That's obviously a lot shorter than the Pebble smartwatch, which gets a solid week on a charge, but frankly, the Android Wear watches just do a lot more. Assuming you have an Android phone, of course.

So how about that built-in GPS? Combine that with a recent Android Wear update that lets watches locally store music from Google Play, and it means you can pair some Bluetooth headphones and head out on a run without having to tote your phone with you. There aren't very many apps that can take advantage of the GPS yet, but the basic functions of Runkeeper worked without a hitch.
But I'm a little skeptical that anyone would want to run with the watch alone. For starters, the Runkeeper watch app is pretty limited. It couldn't do any of the audio voice coaching as I ran. The UI that lets you browse through music is somewhat limited, and you're stuck with whatever you've already downloaded (which is limited to just a few gigs). Plus, if you turn your ankle or encounter some other kind of emergency, it's much safer to have a way to call for help. There are so many good, secure ways to attach your phone to your body that it doesn't feel like much of a selling point.


Best battery life for an Android Wear watch yet, and the transflective screen is nice for quickly checking the time of day.
I love that the charging port is just a plain old micro USB, which means it's really easy to charge it anywhere.
The watch itself doesn't catch your eye so much, which is generally a good thing, though fashionistas may find it boring.

The clasping mechanism feels nice and strong and yet easy to get on and off.

No Like

The SmartWatch 3 doesn't have a built-in heart rate monitor, which is become a key feature for wrist-worn devices for people who are serious about their health. The Moto 360, Fitbit Charge HR and Basis Peak constantly monitor my heart, giving me a much better estimate of my real caloric burn and heart health. If I had to choose between HRM and GPS, I'd take the HRM in a heartbeat. Yes, that was a pun.
The screen isn't quite as pretty as the Wear watches that use AMOLED displays.
While the band feels strong, it's a bit on the thick side where the clasp is on your inner wrist, which can get annoying while you're typing.
The micro USB port is covered by a little rubber gasket that feels like it'll eventually break off.
The pre-installed watchfaces are more than a little lackluster, but there are loads of gorgeous ones you can download from the Google Play Store.

Should You Buy It?

It's a tough call. It many ways, it simply performs better than any of the other Android Wear watches. But on the other side, it looks a bit plain, and looks matter when you're talking about something you're going to be wearing all day, every day. The lack of heart rate capabilities is the biggest ding, and it's up to you how heavily you weight that. If health and fitness are priority for you, the Moto 360—even with its godawful battery life—is probably the smarter buy. Even though the SmartWatch 3 lasts more than twice as long on a charge, and operates more smoothly, it's the one for me. That said, if you like the way it looks and tracking your daily burn isn't a big deal, I think you'll be happy with the Sony.
The SmartWatch 3 sells for $250, which ties the Motorola for second-most expensive Android Wear watch, behind the $300 LG G Watch R. It ain't fancy, but it's a solid performer, and it's the first smartwatch from Sony that might actually be worth your trouble. [Google Play]
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Sunday, January 25, 2015

How to get music on your Android Wear smartwatch

Enjoy listening to music straight from your device

Android Wear devices can now store your music, so you can still get access to your favourite tunes when you go for a jog around the park. But how do you get your music on your smartwatch, and how do you link up your headphones to listen to them?
Essential readingTop smartwatches for 2015
We've got down and dirty with our Android Wear smartwatch to show you how. Whether you're using an LG G Watch, Moto 360 or Sony SmartWatch 3, here's our guide to getting music on your device.

1. Update the apps

The only app you're going to be able to do this with (for the time being at least) is Google's own Play Music. Make sure you're running the latest version of it on your Android device (the Play Store app will tell you), as well as the most recent version of Android Wear – go to Settings then About on your smartwatch to check.

2. Activate offline listening

'Offline listening' means the music is cached on your smartwatch to listen to even when your phone isn't around. To enable this feature, you need to flick a switch inside the Play Music app on your smartphone or tablet: tap Settings from the app menu then tick the box marked Download to Android Wear to activate it.

3. Choose your songs

Unfortunately there's no way to download songs just to your phone or just to your smartwatch – anything you select is downloaded to both devices, so bear this in mind (4GB of storage is the usual amount for Android Wear watches). Use the orange pin buttons in Play Music to store selected tracks and albums on your watch.

4. Sync the music

The syncing should happen automatically once you've activated the right setting in Play Music and picked some songs to download – if not, make sure that your smartwatch is properly connected to your smartphone. A notification on the watch itself will keep you up to date with the progress of the music transfer.

5. Find some headphones

All the Android Wear devices on the market today use Bluetooth to connect up a pair of headphones, so you're going to need to get yourself a set. The supplied instructions will tell you how to get the headphones in pairing mode, at which point you're ready to redirect your attention back to your watch.

6. Make the connection

Head into the Android Wear Settings screen on your smartwatch then choose Bluetooth devices. At this stage the watch will automatically scan for nearby Bluetooth kit, and it should pick up the headphones while they're in pairing mode – select the headphones when they appear to complete the connection.

7. Play some music

You can access Play Music from the main Android Wear menu (tap the screen then tap the red Google logo) or by saying "play music" when your smartwatch is listening. There are two options – playing music on your phone or playing it on your watch – and the most recent one will be selected by default.

8. Change modes

If you don't want to use Play Music in its current mode, tap the large cross icon before the app launches and you'll be given the chance to change it. If the music is being played on your phone then you still have the opportunity to control it from your wrist, so you'll probably want to switch modes regularly.

9. Control playback

Once playback starts you'll see a small widget appear on the Android Wear watch face that lets you pause and resume playback. Swipe this up to see the current track then swipe left to access volume and track skipping controls. Swipe left again and choose More music to access the full track listing and the shuffle option.

10. Troubleshoot problems

Bluetooth isn't the most reliable of technologies, so if you run into problems then resetting your devices or starting again from scratch will usually be enough to clear them up. Testing your headphones with another device (like your laptop) can help you determine whether problems are caused by the headphones or your smartwatch.

Alcatel OneTouch Watch: What you need to know

The imaginatively named Alcatel OneTouch Watch went live at CES, offering a cheap-ticket to the smartwatch party.
Essential round-upBest smartwatch 2015
It's due to launch in March for around $150 - here's everything you need to know about the iOS and Android compatible wearable.

Alcatel OneTouch Watch: Design and build

The Alcatel OneTouch Watch "looks like a watch and feels like a watch" according to its makers and, after getting our paws on one over in Vegas at CES, we have to agree; it does look like a pretty swish looking new entrant to the ever-growing smartwatch market. It's a round-faced smartwatch with four different straps on offer - dark red/black, chrome/ dark grey, all-white and all metal-white.
It's fairly slim, with the watch face itself coming in at 10.5mm thick - that makes it svelter than the round Moto 360. The watch face itself is 41.8mm, again smaller than the Motorola smartwatch's 46mm diameter with a 1.22 inch screen.
It's not clear if the whole body of the watch is metal but Alcatel says brushed chrome and stainless steel are used on the Watch with micro-textured resin bands for the non-metal straps. The whole thing is also dust and water-resistant to IP67 - handy.

Alcatel OneTouch Watch: Features and specs

The OS looks like a modded-Android platform, although Alcatel have yet to confirm this. What we do know is that the smartwatch is Android compatible (4.3 and above) and, somewhat surprising, it is compatible with iPhone too, on devices running iOS 7 that is.
The Watch packs in an accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter, heart rate sensor, e-compass and NFC tag for fitness tracking and connectivity as well as Bluetooth 4.0 to connect to your smartphone and a vibration motor for alerts. There's an onscreen activity overview available though it's not clear what app is taking care of the fitness and sleep tracking and monitoring yet.
As on Android Wear, the Watch can also be used to control music playback and as a remote shutter for your smartphone. All standard features but ones that should make £200+ Android Wear watches very worried indeed.
There's a 210mAh battery that Alcatel states 'can work for 2-5 days' - we'll believe that when we see it - and it can charge to full in one hour. It charges via a USB charger integrated into the watch band - you can see it sticking out in the above image - which is actually really nifty and puts Samsung and LG smartwatch docks to shame.

Alcatel OneTouch Watch: Usability and apps

There's a standby button on the side of the device - but to bring up the homescreen, you had to tap below the display, slightly above the number 6 on the bezel.
There are 14 apps on offer from the Watch OS and you simply swipe horizontally to scroll through them. A quick tap fires up your chosen app. There's apps for the weather, fitness tracking, sleep, smartwatch controls (music and camera) and so on. All fairly basic stuff but, for $150, a fairly comprehensive selection.

Alcatel OneTouch Watch: Price and release date

And it's very wallet-friendly too. Alcatel has a history of budget-conscious smartphones and had promised that the OneTouch Watch will arrive with a price tag of just $150, and will be launching in the US in March.
We'll update the story as soon as we get firm UK pricing and release date information.
We'll also be bringing you a full Alcatel OneTouch Watch review as soon as we can.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Samsung Debuts Gear S Smartwatch With 3G, No Smartphone Needed

Samsung is at it again. Just six months after it announced its second-generation smartwatch — and just two since it launched its first Android Wear model — the company has a new wrist wearable: the Gear S. 
This time there's an extra twist, though: It's the first Samsung smartwatch with built-in 3G connectivity.
The Samsung Gear S has the ability to connect to 3G and 2G networks on its own, meaning users won't need to keep it wirelessly tethered to a smartphone in order to get notifications or make calls. The watch does include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, though, so a user has the option of still pairing it with a smartphone some or all of the time. It can also go solo and stay connected when the situation calls for it (say, when exercising).

The display on the Gear S is a 2-inch SuperAMOLED screen with 360 x 480 resolution, making it fairly large as smartwatches go, although the curved screen (similar to the Samsung Gear Fit) makes it a little more sleek. The screen is rectangular, like most smartwatches.
The watch is powered by Samsung's Tizen OS — as opposed to Android Wear, the Google-created wearable operating system, which Samsung has also shown support for via its Gear Live smartwatch. Tizen, however, is more power-efficient than Android, and the Gear S is rated for two days of battery life.
Samsung says the processor is a dual-core 1GHz design, but it didn't specify the manufacturer or model. It has 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal memory.

There's no camera, but — like Samsung's other Tizen-based Gear watches — it has a standalone music player.
The Gear S stems naturally from Samsung's "throw everything against the wall" approach to most product categories, giving the wearable-curious crowd the option of a getting smartphone-like device without the smartphone. The display will even call up a QWERTY keyboard when needed, presumably with some pretty tiny keys.
Samsung is also debuting a ring-style headphone model called the Gear Circle. It connects via Bluetooth and features a magnetic lock that clasps around the users's neck when it's not being used. It can also vibrate to give the user notifications.
There's no price yet on the Gear S or Gear Circle, but Samsung says they'll ship in October.

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