If other smartwatches are like the Sony Ericsson LiveView, keep them

liveview - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

Last week I picked up a Sony Ericsson LiveView for next to nothing, a result of it having been replaced by the Sony Smartwatch. I spent a few hours configuring it, and my thoughts immediately after were mixed, but at least somewhat positive.

Scratch that. This thing is garbage. 

The problems started when I stopped playing with it and configuring it, and instead started using it on a normal schedule (with less frequent user interaction). The connection issues that I’d heard about showed themselves after the watch had been idle for an hour or so, and despite having tried multiple apps that promise to fix this, it still loses connection more often than anything actually happens on it. It’s particularly bad on my tablet, which also apparently doesn’t fix the root-only fix for Android asking if it’s OK to pair every time it tries to reconnect.

Speaking of using it on my tablet, the reason for that is that it apparently likes messing up the WiFi connection on my phone – both when it lost connection normally and when I disappeared out of range of the phone it caused the phone to lose the WiFi signal, something it hasn’t done before and hasn’t done since. Since I have Tasker profiles that depend on a WiFi connection at home to work, I simply couldn’t use it at all on my phone once I discovered this issue.

Once on my tablet, it took me a while to actually make it work at all there. Sony hasn’t updated its crappy LiveView app in ages, so Ice Cream Sandwich support isn’t exactly all there. The newer LiveWare app (universal app for Sony accessories) worked well enough to tell me to go download the LiveView, which has its manifest file messed up in such a way that it shows as incompatible with the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. I pulled the .apk from my phone, got it installed, and then ran into the true issue with the LiveView and ICS: getting plugins to show up. Thanks to some help from the developer of LiveView SuperFixer I got the plugins activated and working with my tablet.

After another series of disconnects and pairing requests later and I’ve simply given up. I haven’t seen such a completely and utterly unusable product since the last time I reviewed something from Archos, and I’m just glad I didn’t pay much for the thing. What I’m left with is the question of whether these issues are to be expected of smartwatches in general or if it’s just Sony that makes garbage. My plan before the LiveView was to get a Pebble once it’s out, but there’s no way I’m spending money on it now until I’ve heard from multiple sources that it doesn’t have any of these issues.

I’m also holding out for more information on the customization aspects of the Pebble and other smartwatches. The LiveView was a pain to get working with my own Tasker-based systems, which is pretty much the only reason I want a smartwatch to begin with. I fully understand that my usage scenarios aren’t exactly common, but that just makes it that much more important to know the capabilities of a smartwatch before buying.

Either way, this was my last Sony product. I’ve seen nothing that interest me from the company in years, and releasing something like the LiveView to market is just unforgivable.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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