What makes the Sony SmartWatch smart?
With its touchscreen display and icons, the Sony SmartWatch looks a lot like a really, really small Android smartphone. It's just 1.42 inches by 1.42 inches (3.6 by 3.6 centimeters) across, 0.3 inches (0.7 centimeters) in thickness, and weighs 0.55 ounces (15.5 grams) (somewhat less than the band to which it's attached) [source: Sony.com].
But while the SmartWatch lacks heft, it also demonstrates just how far the state of the art in miniaturization has come. While Sony doesn't disclose much about the hardware inside, the gadget-hacking Web site CMW, which dismantled one of the watches, reports that it sports a CPU that runs at 120 MHz, 128 kilobytes of RAM, and a full megabyte of flash memory for storage [sources: Murph, CMW]. That's more electronic muscle than some laptop computers had a couple of decades ago, and it enables the SmartWatch to run a stripped-down operating system that's compatible with Google's Android OS for phones, release 2.1 and up [source: Sony].
That last part is crucial, because when you aren't using the SmartWatch to check the time, it essentially functions as a Bluetooth-equipped peripheral add-on to your Android phone, piggybacking on the latter's wireless Internet connection. For some functions, such as music, it acts like a remote control, sifting through the phone's multiple gigabytes of storage to select and play songs. When the phone rings, you also can use the watch face to check who's calling you, and then -- provided you're also wearing a Bluetooth earpiece and microphone -- you can even answer the call without taking the phone out of your pocket or handbag [source: Olivarez-Giles].
But that's not the really sexy stuff. The SmartWatch can run its own teeny-weeny apps from Google's Play store or Sony LiveWare as well [source: Bennett]. Those enable you to scan your e-mail inbox, read texts, Tweets and Facebook posts, and even check the weather [source: Olivarez-Giles]. You can scroll through the apps by swiping a finger from right to left, while swiping downward eventually also gets you into an app tray similar to the one on Android phones [source: Bennett].