Hands-on: Sony SmartBand Talk review

Sony announced the SmartBand Talk during its press conference at IFA 2014 in Berlin, taking its existing SmartBand device one step further.

The SmartBand is a wearable wristband that Sony launched at CES earlier this year. It comes in a number of colours and is compatible with the Sony Core tracker that will track your every move. The SmartBand Talk adds an e-paper display to the SmartBand's offering, as well as the ability to answer calls.

We got our hands on the SmartBand Talk in the run up to IFA and here are our first impressions.

Smooth design

The SmartBand Talk features the same strap design as the SmartBand, offering a variety of colours and a textured flexible strap.

The strap fastens with two metal pins that slot into the holes, making it easily adjustable and delivering a one size fits all approach. It's the same mechanism Samsung use for its Gear Fit and it's one that we have previously found can be a little unsecure when using it for fitness, but we will wait until we review the SmartBand Talk in full to pass judgement on this.

A metal circle on the other side of the two pins is what you see when the SmartBand Talk is closed around your wrist and it finishes it off nicely, plus the subtle Sony branding is a nice touch.

The SmartBand comes with the Sony Core that you can slot in and out but the SmartBand Talk has a permanent e-paper display built-in, although Sony told us you can still change the straps which is great.

The right-hand side of the display features a volume rocker, along with another button that changes what the screen shows you.

The design is similar in shape to the Samsung Gear Fit but Sony's option is much slimmer and sleeker, offering a very smooth, streamlined look that we really liked. It is also waterproof which has come to be something of an expectation for Sony products.

E-paper display

The SmartBand Talk comes with an always-on 1.4-inch e-paper display and our first impressions of it were that the image it offered was very crisp.

We found ourselves touching it and swiping to get to the next screen when we tried it out but as it isn't touchscreen, this didn't do anything, which felt a little strange.

To change what the display features on it, you have to press the button that sits below the volume rocker which will certainly take some time to get used to as most things are touchscreen these days, but we suspect it would come naturally eventually.

At first we thought we wouldn't like the e-paper display as much as a colour option but we got used to it in the short amount of time we had with it and grew to like it a lot. Plus, the SmartBand Talk has a 70mAh battery capacity that Sony claims will last 5 days, which wouldn't be the case with a coloured display.

Talk capability

The SmartBand Talk as the name suggests, enables you to answer calls coming through to your smartphone from your wrist.

There is a built-in microphone so you can talk into the device and there is also a built-in speaker so you can hear, plus the SmartBand Talk is also HD Voice enabled so you should be able to hear what the other person is saying clearly.

We didn't get a chance to test this feature out during our time with it, but we will certainly try it out when we come to review it in full.

Packed with sensors

Many wearables come packed with sensors to measure your steps, fitness and sleep and the SmartBand Talk is no different.

Sony claims it features both activity tracking and auto sleep detection and it will work with Sony's Lifelog app, which tracks all sorts of things you do from the photos you take, the steps you walk and the music you've listened to that day, to the hours of sleep you have had and anything else you've done like an ultra-detailed calendar.

It will have an accelerometer, altimeter and pedometer on board, plus you'll be able to snap your fingers to answer a call, which we can't wait to try out. 

We didn't get a chance to test the sensors out but the fact that it has an altimeter and comes with the ability to answer calls, as well as change your music and listen to voice commands already has us interested.

First impressions

It's difficult to pass judgement on the SmartBand Talk as we were unable to try out many of the features that make it exciting.

The design is nice and we liked it a lot. It's slim, premium looking and we love that you can change the straps. We also liked the display as it offers something a little different when it comes to the wearables market.

From what Sony has told us about the SmartBand Talk, it sounds like there is a lot to look forward to with this device so we can't wait to getting it in for a full review.