Sony has revealed its second-generation attempt at kickstarting a smartwatch market: a $200 Android-powered wrist-computer.
The 1.6-inch Smartwatch 2 is a revision of Sony's first model, which went on sale six years ago to a less than enthusiastic response. The watch is slaved via Bluetooth 3.0 or NFC to a phone and tablet running Android 4.0 and vibrates on the wrist when new information is uploaded.
“The average smartphone user reaches for their device more than 100 times per day to check text messages, read emails and social network notifications and, of course, to check the time,” said Ravi Nookala, US president of Sony Mobile in a statement.
“SmartWatch 2 makes these core tasks easier, and does much more with apps available, for everything from productivity to fitness and games.”
It has been six years since Sony made a foray into the smartwatch market and the results have been less than stellar. But Sony is no-doubt hoping that the new device will benefit from the growing wrist-wars hype, in part started by Pebble's moderately successful timepiece that was funded in part by a Kickstarter project.
Since then Samsung, Motorola and Qualcomm have shown off their own smartwatches – but the rumor mill is going overtime on bigger names trying their hand at wrist-watch computing. Apple is the biggest fish, and has trademarked the name iWatch (although this may be a spoiling tactic), but Google, Microsoft and even Dell and Nissan have all hinted that they are going to offer up similar hardware.
One analyst house has predicted that next year manufacturers will shift five million smartwatches (a claim El Reg is highly skeptical of) and there have been a host of smaller companies putting out their own wrist gadgets. But the problems of small screen size, poor battery life, and a lack of apps, seem to be putting off consumers.
In Sony's case, the little computer has a 220-by-176 pixel color display screen that we're told can be viewed in direct sunlight, a claimed battery life of three to four days, and 137 applications in the Google Play store. That might be enough to tempt some consumers, but somehow El Reg doubts customers will be flocking to the stores. ®