Wearable fitness trackers are all the rage at the moment. Everyone and their dog has a Fitbit or a Jawbone around their wrist and knowing the health benefits of your every move has become the new normal. Luckily for tech-savvy fitness fanatics there are a huge selection of wearable fitness options out there – the only problem is figuring out which one is right for you. Crystal takes a look at the the new Sony SmartBand Talk SWR30 to see if the little device lives up to the hype. 

To be quite honest I’m not one hundred percent sold on the whole watch-style fitness tracker thing. I use a pair of wireless headphones when I train and they give me all the info I want from my heart rate during training right down to in-ear voice coaching. I can track my workout through a linked app on my phone and for me that’s perfect. Having said that I know there are people who want to know the nitty gritty of their daily lives and to be fair I am ‘missing’ out on a bunch of stuff that only watch-style wearable tech like the Sony SmartBand can provide.

For example the device made me realise how much I miss wearing a watch during the day and how convenient my life could be. The monochrome 1.4-inch E Ink display offers the wearer multiple ways to track their daily life using the linked LifeLog App on their phone. You can check out the time, see how many steps you’ve walked, see how long you’ve run for and set all sorts of other goals that you can track through the main LifeLog screen on the device. I particularly liked the sleep tracking and smart alarm system which allowed me to keep tabs on my sleep cycle and wake up without a traditional alarm.

The SmartBand Talk offers a range of built-in sensors, including an accelerometer and altimeter, to track your steps. However, without a built-in GPS it seems that the reading is more of a general guide. I wore the device for two weeks and found that sometimes the device would over-estimate the amount of steps I walked in a day. Which also meant that the ‘calories burned’ estimate would be off for that day. I did found that the more I wore the device the more accurate it became so it may take a week or two to get everything fine tuned and working accurately.

Sony SmartBand Talk

I also enjoyed the smart watch type features that are incorporated into the fitness tracker such as the ability to receive message and call notifications as well as read messages on the device. You can’t text back, but it is great to have an easy-to-read device displaying the most recently received message on your phone. It helped a lot in social situations where I didn’t want to check my phone every 5 seconds.

The device also offers real-time updates from the platforms you select and shows the icon of that platform when notifications come in – this means you can keep tabs on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp on your wrist! The Call Favourite function, which allows you to easily call a chosen contact from your wrist is quite convenient as well but having said that, talking into a device on your wrist can be awkward in public. I found the function walked best when I was driving and the sound quality is quite good.

You navigate though the homescreens on the device using the physical navigation button on the side and you can tap the display firmly to get more info on your notifications or on each function. The tap-to-display function can be a bit temperamental at times and I found that it sometimes needed two firm taps to respond. As for the battery life, I found that the battery on the device was quite good for a device with a display – I went 4 days without charging the device which isn’t bad considering the fact that you’re constantly using to to check your notifications throughout the day.

Another plus is the the fact that the device offers interchangeable straps that you can swap out depending on your taste. The modern, texturised rubber straps come in a series of colours and I loved being able to swop the band from pink, to white to green depending on my outfit for the day. Most other fitness trackers only come in one colour that you are stuck with for the lifespan of the device so I liked having the freedom to wear what ever colour I wanted to each day.

The device retails for R1975 so it’s on par with devices like the FitBit Charge (which offers a built-in heart rate monitor,  call notifications, multi-sport recording and a battery life of 7-days) at R1899 and the Jawbon Up (which offers updates on activities and time spent being idle, food and drink log and a battery life of 14 days) at R1600.

Overall I liked the Sony SmartBand Talk – it’s a great little device if you’re just getting into this whole fitness thing or if you want to be more connected throughout the day. Devices like the FitBit and Jawbone offer a few more advanced fitness features but the Sony SmartBand offers a great go-between when it comes to smartwatches and fitness trackers. If you can’t decide between getting a smartwatch or a fitness tracker then go for this.