What does it say that so many people are fascinated by smart watches even as they're disappointed that the high-tech timepieces aren't as smart as they'd like them to be? That encapsulates my own view of a product category that has garnered attention as part of the burgeoning wearable computing trend.
Most smart watches function as pricey second-screen devices for smartphones. That's so with two of the three devices that I checked out for this column, the Sony SmartWatch 2 and the Qualcomm Toq.
The third, called FiLIP, works with an app on your phone, too. But it's a wearable locator designed for kids that lets him or her make calls from the wrist -- to Mom, Dad or other designated grownups.
A closer look:
Sony SmartWatch 2
I was down on the last Sony SmartWatch I reviewed. Among other flaws, it didn't constantly display the time -- most of us still glance at our wrists to find out what time it is, after all. That's been fixed, and its successor represents a big step forward. There are more apps now, too -- more than 200, Sony says, though not all are free or worthwhile. Apps range from a Blackjack game to a fitness tracker.
The battery life that had been short-lived on the last Sony watch seems to live up to Sony's promise of 3 to 4 days of "normal usage" on the new model. Normal use for me was peeking at the watch to view incoming Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and missed-call notifications. You can reject incoming calls from the watch but cannot accept them.
The squarish 1.6-inch touch display is viewable outdoors. Below the screen are navigational touch icons similar to icons on Android phones.
You can pair SmartWatch 2 with most Android smartphones (4.0 or later), not just Sony's Xperias. If your phone is capable, you can pair using NFC (near field communication), by touching one device to the other.
Though you charge the watch through a micro USB, I had one heck of a hard time removing the lid protecting the port. There's a reason for that firm seal, though; the watch is water resistant down to 3feet of fresh water for a half hour.
SmartWatch 2 costs $199.99 for a version with the black rubbery wristband like the one I tested and is also available with a metal band.
Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch that I previously reviewed, the Sony watch lacks a camera (I also had issues with Samsung's watch). (continued...)
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