Sony SmartBand 2 comes with Heart Rate Sensor

Sony’s SmartBand 2 is now official, it’s a multi-sensor fitness band that has a heart rate sensor, for deeper insights into your fitness, well-being and even stress levels.

As with other fitness bands like from Jawbone or Fitbit, and even Xiaomi, the SmartBand 2 is able to automatically track your walk, run activities, and now with the heart rate sensor, log the corresponding heart rate too. There’s also automatic sleep detection, to monitor and analyse your sleep cycles. It will be interesting to see how Sony puts all these information together, and if Sony can indeed deliver ‘meaningful’ insights on the user’s heath and stress levels.
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Custom Cheap G Watch R Charging Stand

I wanted a watch charging stand for my G Watch R, but I couldn’t find a cheap one on sale. I think it looks better with the watch prop up instead of the flat lying down look. Also, if you changed the stock 22 mm strap to a closed design, then a charging stand becomes essential.

I couldn’t find a suitable watch stand for the G Watch R or G Watch Urbane, and the full DIY route was a little too difficult for me. Ever since the Apple Watch has started selling, the market was flooded with tons of Apple Watch stands and I thought the shape and design was rather similar for the G Watch R. As it turns out, it can be adapted easily for the G Watch R.

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Review: Sony Smartwatch 3

The Sony SmartWatch 3 isn’t exactly a head turner, but I have to give it props as the most functional smart watch for the sports enthusiast. Yes, even more than the recently available in Singapore Apple Watch. It’s truly a sport watch first, smart watch second.

Basic Design – But You Wouldn’t Mind If You Are Into Running

While it’s the first Sony Smartwatch to feature Android Wear, it’s the sport features that really stand out and personally, I think that’s the desired target audience for Sony. The Sony Smartwatch 3 looks more sporty than fashionable, and if you want to be harsh, just about as boring as any other rubber watch. The basic black strap comes is really rubbery and does attract lint and dirt from time to time, but can be easily wiped off. The clasp adds a little character to an otherwise dull look, and features an easy-to-use adjustable clasp. It sports the Sony logo printed on a brushed metal piece to give it some character. However, there are additional accessory straps to jazz up the design. There’s also a stainless steel bracelet and a brown leather strap options for a more fashion forward design. Changing straps are easy, you can simply pop the smartwatch module in and out to mix and match straps.

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Honestly, the rubber strap is a great combination to a sport watch. I can easily pop out the watch unit and give the strap a thorough cleaning especially after a run. Every little bit of convenience helps.

One of the feature on the Smartwatch 3 I was looking forward to was the micro USB plug for charging. I thought it was a great design choice since I didn’t need to use a proprietary charger and can charge the smart watch 3 as long as I have a micro USB cable, which is just above everywhere now. However, in actual use, it wasn’t that great. It was a hassle fiddling with the little rubber flap that covers the micro USB port and I often struggled to orientate the watch and cable to ensure it stays connected. Instead, on the G Watch R or the Moto 360, charging is as simple as just lying the watch on the charging cradle.

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GPS! The One and Only Android Wear Watch with GPS

The unique selling point for the Sony Smartwatch 3 is GPS, which other smartwatches don’t offer. That’s quite useful from a sports watch perspective. You can now accurately track your runs without lugging your smartphone around. It works with quite a number of popular apps, such as Runkeeper, Runtastic, and you can also keep music stored on the watch itself, which essentially means a one stop device for all your exercise needs. Oh wait, there’s no heartbeat sensor, but it supports pairing via bluetooth with common heart rate monitoring strap accessories for e.g those from Polar. There are other smartwatches with heart rate monitors, but it largely seems to be inaccurate and takes a long time to detect a reading, which isn’t what you want when going for a run.

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I had no trouble pairing it with my bluetooth earphones or even to a full bluetooth speaker such as the Logitech Megaboom. It all works seamlessly too, turn on my bluetooth earphones, issue a “Ok Google – Play Playlist Workout” followed by “Ok Google – Start my run”, and off I go. When I’m back, the watch syncs back to my phone and upload the run details to Runkeeper.

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The SW3 ups the ante when it comes to waterproofing. All the other Android Wear models, aside from the Asus ZenWatch (which is only IP55), are IP67 rated – meaning they can last 30 minutes in water at a depth of 1m. Sony’s effort has an IP68 rating – which in Sony case, means you can take the smartwatch up to a depth of 1.5m of water and for up to 30 minutes.

Good Display – If You are Outdoors Often

The display is a 1.6-inch, 320 x 320, transflective LCD, which helps visibility greatly when under the sun, but indoors, I noticed that the colour richness and viewing angles lag behind the AMOLED tech found on say, the LG G Watch R. It’s a bummer as the screen difference is really noticeable, especially as we are spoilt by the high quality screens on our mobile phones, my friends easily noticed that the Smartwatch 3 screen just wasn’t as bright or vibrant as they would expect it to be.

On a more positive note, the smartwatch 3 sports an auto brightness sensor and generally works well in adapting to various lighting conditions.

Standard Android Wear Experience

The other elements of the hardware are pretty standard. 4GB of storage space, which there isn’t much purpose other than storing music at the moment. The processor is the standard 1.2 quad-core Snapdragon, which is more than adequate for today’s applications. The battery life is rated at two days and generally, it’s good for a 1 and a half, unless I encounter the software bug below.

When it comes to the software experience, it is pretty much consistent across all the Android Wear devices. Interestingly, Google has kept the manufacturers on a tight leash on software customisability and the experience across all is largely the same, bearing a few application differences. Android Wear was recently upgraded to 5.1, and it is available on the Sony Smartwatch 3. The overall experience on Android Wear is largely similar to our previous coverage, useful, great for notifications, but nothing much else in term of functionality. This brings new features like Wi-Fi support, Emoji support, gesture controls etc, but on the Sony Smartwatch 3, it also introduced some new bugs to the battery life. Battery life would deplete randomly and the watch would heat up. This happened on random. It can be working great, sipping away on battery life and then all of a sudden, it starts to heat up, and the battery life just dives down. Only a reboot seems to fix it. This was not present on earlier versions and should hopefully be fixed soon. For a temporary fix to Sony Smartwatch 3 battery woes, the Google+ pages recommends to disable Google Fit.

Verdict

If you are looking for a sports tracker, the Sony Smartwatch 3 is really the number 1 choice, even when compared to other more traditional sport trackers from Garmin. It has GPS tracking, waterproof capability, and the additional bluetooth music playback capability and heart rate monitor support, means it can be the central piece to control all your sporting needs. When it comes to Android Wear, I don’t see much other options for the avid runners. However, if you are less sports inclined, then the Sony Smartwatch 3 doesn’t exactly stand out. But that’s what Android Wear is all about, different strokes for different folks.

Review: Xiaomi Mi Band Leather Strap (MiJobs)

The Xiaomi Mi Band is a basic, yet very comparable wearable to other offering from Fitbit or Jawbone, with cool features such as notification alerts, but the design isn’t exactly fashion forward. The Mi Band comes with a standard silicon rubber strap, typically in black, although there are other cheerful and colourful options. However, they are still more suited as a sports accessory. Pair it with formal clothes, and the Mi Band stands out like an odd ball.

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To ensure that you are still counting your steps and monitoring your exercise, Xiaomi have released a leather strap for the MiBand complete with alloy case. You can’t buy it yet from the Mi Shop in Singapore though. The brains of the MiBand simply slot in to the leather wrist strap of a more upmarket look.

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The new ZenWatch 2 has more than 90 Permutations!

ASUS continues their strong presence at the Computex Show with the unveiling of the Zenwatch 2. Instead of a single design, the Zenwatch 2 offers two size choices, three colours, and eighteen strap options in a variety of materials and colors. Simple math would indicate 2 x 3 x 16 (lumped the stainless steel choice together) = 96! ASUS definitely wants this watch to be able to adapt to a variety of lifestyle choices and fashion styles.

The watch face is similar to the Zenwatch, which is angular screen covered by a 2.5D curved glass. From the press photos, the screen appears to be more squarish. I do appreciate that there’s more options now for further personalization. The smaller watch size should also make the Asus Zenwatch a more suitable choice for ladies. There’s a rubber strap in bold bright colours, Blue Orange, Red and Taupe. For those who prefer leather, you can pick from Khaiki, Brown, Gray, Blue and Orange. Lastly, there’s also a stainless steel bracelet which will match the watch face in silver, gunmetal or rose gold options. Oh, there’s still one more option, which is for the extravagant. Asus has partnered with Swarovski for a leather strap embossed with Swarovski crystals. No mention on the prices yet.

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Get the Urbane Watch for Cheap from Qoo10

Available in either Rose Gold or Silver body, the LG Urbane is one of the best looking Android Wear watches we’ve seen so far. Priced the same as the lowest Apple Watch Sports, the LG Watch Urbane is the latest Android Wear watches to hit the market. The Google Play Store retail price is US$349 (S$460), but you can get it cheaper from Korea through Qoo10 at S$399. These import models are official LG sets but to note, warranty will not be covered by local LG.

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[MWC15] HTC Partners Valve for HTC Vive – VR Headset

HTC, today announced plans of entry to mass-market virtual reality (VR). Through a strategic partnership with Valve, HTC promises to transform the way in which consumers interact with technology and the world around them with the debut of HTC Vive. This bring them alongside tech giants such as Facebook (Occulus Rift), Samsung and Sony who have ventured to the VR space.

The HTC Vive will combine Valve’s Steam VR tracking and input technologies with HTC’s world-renowned design and engineering talent. Cher Wang, Chairwoman of HTC commented, “It’s rare that a company has an opportunity to forever transform the ways in which people interact with the world and communicate with each other but that is exactly what we plan to do with Valve.”

There are interesting features of the HTC Vive that HTC shared.

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