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How the Sony SmartBand Works

The Sony SmartBand vs. the Competition

Most gadget reviewers say the Sony SmartBand is a solid choice for an activity tracker, although it could definitely use some improvements. Its main competitors are the Fitbit and Jawbone. Here's how it stacks up against them.

Fitness Tracking. Monitoring your activity is the heart of what a fitness tracker is all about. The SmartBand tracks walking, running and sleeping, but not cycling or other activities — a detriment if your main purpose for purchasing such a device is to track your activities. In addition, while it's normal for any such device to be a little off in its numbers, the SmartBand reportedly often provides results that are wayoff, especially compared to other brands. One reviewer, for example, noted the SmartBand was pretty accurate tracking the length of his runs. However, on a day he spent mostly seated, with his one activity lifting weights for 30 minutes, the SmartBand told him he'd walked about 30,000 steps that day, plus run for an hour. Another reviewer said he spent 30 minutes on an elliptical machine, which the SmartBand recorded as one minute of running.

Band Style and Function. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the SmartBand's sleek, minimalist design is reasonably classy and unobtrusive, especially compared to the boxy Basis Carbon Steel and Samsung Gear Fit. And if you don't like its look, you can pop the Core out of the band and toss it in your pocket, leaving the band at home. It'll still work. This feature makes the SmartBand more versatile than a lot of the other activity trackers on the market [source: Colon].

Lifelog. This is where the SmartBand shines. Reviewers loved the Lifelog's graphics, calling them "appealing" and "beautiful." Ditto for the wealth of data provided on everything from your percentage of deep sleep to the number of minutes you spent texting last week. The key question, though, is whether you're interested in receiving this type of data. Some people are fascinated to learn these things about themselves, while others have no use for the information. In addition, while you can set goals in the Lifelog (e.g., walking 10,000 steps per day or only using Facebook for 30 minutes), the app doesn't tell you when you've reached these goals so you can stop the activity, or give yourself a pat on the back [source: CNET].

Phone calls. If you've got the SmartBand Talk, you can receive phone calls on the device. You can also place calls, but only if you're calling a number you've already selected in the band's phone application. Most of the competing brands, at least, are strictly fitness-tracking devices, not smart watches. However, with the launch of the Apple Watch in 2015, it remains to be seen whether the SmartBand Talk can compete against it.