Sony's second-generation SmartWatch takes on the Samsung Galaxy Gear with better battery life and $199 price tag.
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Sony's SmartWatch 2, the company's second-generation smartwatch, is available to U.S. consumers beginning Tuesday. The device can be purchased directly from Sony's Web store or other online retailers. The SmartWatch 2, announced earlier this year, costs $199.99 and outclasses Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch in several key features.
The SmartWatch 2 has a larger, higher-resolution screen than the original. It measures 1.6 inches and includes 220 x 176 pixels. Sony says it uses a transflective screen that has improved brightness for outdoor viewing. The user interface has been reworked to more closely mimic Android. Pairing with other devices is a snap due to built-in NFC and Bluetooth, and the SmartWatch 2 is resistant to water and sweat so it will serve well as a workout buddy.
According to Sony, the SmartWatch 2 also boasts an improved selection of applications. All compatible applications are easily discoverable via a simple search function in Sony's Smart Connect app, which comes preloaded on Sony Xperia smartphones or can be downloaded from the Google Play store for other Android smartphones. Further, the selection of applications has been dramatically improved. Sony says there are more than 300 apps compatible with the SmartWatch 2.
The smartwatch tackles basic functions with aplomb. It can be used to handle calls, read previously downloaded email messages, adjust the volume and track of a smartphone's music player, and fire off a smartphone camera remotely with the Smart Camera app. It includes an app called Runtastic, which can be used to track fitness activity, as well as a standard map for checking routes and directions.
Of course, it serves as a digital watch, stopwatch, and timer and can be used as a flashlight as well. It is compatible with all Android devices, including smartphones and tablets, as long as they're running Android 4.0 and up.
Sony's device has a number of advantages over Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch. First and foremost: battery life. Sony's SmartWatch 2 lasts for three or four days on a single charge. The Galaxy Gear lasts only about 25 hours. Second, the SmartWatch 2 is widely compatible with hundreds of Android devices, while the Gear currently works only with the Galaxy Note 3. Further, the SmartWatch 2 is slimmer and more attractive, offers more than three times as many available applications, and costs $100 less.
However, the Gear bests the SmartWatch 2 in a few places. The two biggest factors are the camera and the speakerphone, neither of which the SmartWatch 2 includes. The Gear's screen is higher resolution and, critically, the Galaxy Gear is available from wireless network operators in the U.S. Samsung has a better distribution channel for the Gear, and U.S. consumers are able to find it easily. The Sony SmartWatch 2 is available only online.