Monday, January 24, 2011

Sony Ericsson LiveView™: Your window to the world

Sony Ericsson LiveView Sony Ericsson has just announced a clever new device recently which lets you control some of your Android phone features remotely. This tiny sub-display, for remotely-controlling your Android smartphone and sneaking glances at incoming messages when you probably should be paying attention in class, in meetings or in the midst of romantic dinners.

Mobile Concepts (M) Sdn. Bhd., the authorized distributor for all Malaysia’s genuine Sony Ericsson mobile accessories has brought this little gadget and are vastly distributed throughout all the local retailers and Sony Ericsson’s chain stores.

The new Sony Ericsson LiveView™ will let owners read Facebook, Twitter, and SMS messages, RSS feeds, calendar reminders, and show the time and date. It will be compatible with devices running Android 2.0+ including handsets from other manufacturers.

nylon wrist-strap and a plastic frameMeasuring in at 35 x 35 x 11 mm, the plastic-bodied LiveView™ is a lightweight if somewhat thick black square, fronted by a 1.3-inch 128 x 128 colour OLED display. On the back there’s a metal clip, sturdy enough to keep the LiveView™ fixed snugly to your lapel or the shoulder-strap of your bag; Sony Ericsson also supply a nylon wrist-strap and a plastic frame assembly to turn the LiveView™ into a chunky watch. Hardware controls are limited to a power button with integrated multicolour LED on the top left corner and a second button on the top right; on the bottom edge there’s a microUSB port for charging, covered with a somewhat fiddly rubber flap.

metal clip As far as notifications go, the LiveView™ vibrates and flashes an icon at the top whenever new items arrive, and you'll also see the number of new items indicated above the corresponding app icons. You can tweak the update frequency -- from every 15 minutes up to every 3 hours or never -- and select sources in the phone's app, but there's no giant sync button to feed your LiveView™ straight away. More disappointingly, the apps only show you alerts as they come along, rather than letting you browse through, say, upcoming calendar events or old text messages that arrived when the LiveView™ app was closed. Okay, maybe the text messages aren't essential, but we think it'd be super useful to have a more powerful calendar app on the LiveView™, considering how often we access the calendar while on the move.

Sony Ericsson get points for not making the LiveView™ an accessory solely for their own range of XPERIA smartphones, and more again for opening up the SDK for third-party developers. Instead, it’ll work with most Android smartphones running OS 2.0 or above, and the LiveView™ application – which runs in the background on your phone – is freely available in the Android Market.

navigation Navigation, felt more convoluted than it should be. The menu layout should be straightforward – cycle through the top level of Sony Ericsson’s native apps with the left/right touch keys, select with the right-hand physical button and then move up and down lists of RSS headlines or missed calls with the up/down keys – but all too often presses would fail to be recognized. We also found the LiveView™ would often stall, refusing to back out to the main menu and instead leaving us either looking at a blank screen or simply the status bar of time and battery life.

The concept behind the LiveView™ is brilliant: offsetting alerts and updates to a secondary screen, allowing you to keep on top of them without having to constantly pull out your phone. That demands consistency, however, and it’s there that the LiveView™ stumbles. We experienced far too many random disconnects or apparent crashes for comfort, and all too often had to resort to power-cycling Bluetooth on our phone in order to get the LiveView™ working again.

Sony Ericsson LiveView™ Sony Ericsson deserves credit for the concept and flexibility with a range of Android devices, and the price – at around what you’d pay for a mid-range Bluetooth headset – is considerably less than the company’s earlier Bluetooth watches. Unfortunately the day to day experience simply doesn’t live up to the promise but don’t worry, this review is based on a prototype unit. Sony Ericsson also has confirmed that the LiveView™ firmware is to be upgradable to solve all the future connectivity issue.

Source: Engadget

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LiveView™ is a trademark of Sony Ericsson. Other names may be trademarks and/or registered trademarks.

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