Sony to try the smartwatch game for a second time

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Sony’s next-generation SmartWatch is “coming soon” according to the product page, and it looks like a huge improvement over the company’s first attempt, which debuted in Sept. 2010.

Like its predecessor, the new SmartWatch connects wirelessly to an Android phone for message notifications on the wrist. The wearable device can also be used for checking Facebook and Twitter or monitoring exercise activities.

After watching the video and checking out the device description — Sony says images are illustrative, so the final product could appear differently — it sounds great. But I bought the Sony Ericsson LiveView watch last year based on similar expectations, and for me, it was a dud. The watch wouldn’t keep a steady connection to my handset once I moved about a meter away. Even with phone in my pocket and the LiveView on my wrist, the connection was never stable.

Hopefully, Sony has addressed that problem with its upcoming SmartWatch. Bluetooth 3.0 is used in this version and Sony claims a range of 10 meters, so I’m a bit leery. By comparison, I reviewed several other smartwatches in the last year and the MetaWatch gave me a range of of 30+ meters; even if I put my phone down and walked away several rooms in my house, the connection never dropped.

The other factor with these devices is the user interface. A touchscreen is often used — and the Sony SmartWatch continues that tradition — but with such a little display, the interface must be effective and intuitive. You don’t want to fumble around through pages of menus on a screen that’s 36 millimeters square.

As far as I know, Sony hasn’t officially announced the SmartWatch with pricing and availability details; if I’m correct, expect news at the Mobile World Congress in a few weeks; we’ll be on-site covering the event live. Thanks to John Biggs’ tweet pointing out the new watch over on WristWatchReview.

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