Sony Ericsson – LiveView review

Small gadget that sits between you and your Android mobile phone
Photo of Sony Ericsson – LiveView
£48

Kids don’t wear watches. They can tell the time and set an alarm using their mobile phones, making watches largely redundant. So it might come as a bit of a surprise to discover that Sony Ericsson has seen this a ‘gap’ in the market, and come up with the LiveView. Slightly larger than your average watch, you can wear the LiveView on a wrist strap or clip it to a bag, clothing, or anything else you fancy.

Mobile interface
LiveView acts as an interface between you and your phone so that you don’t have to bother to get your handset out of a pocket to do things like read texts, see Facebook and Twitter updates, see who’s calling, and control music playback.

The LiveView is compatible with Android 2.0 and higher, and while Sony Ericsson understandably puts the emphasis on its own branded phones, it does work with other handsets too. We tested it with an HTC Desire, for example. It talks to your handset via Bluetooth.

To make the LiveView work you need to download an app to your smartphone though the Android market, then go through the Bluetooth pairing process. With that done, the tiny 1.3in screen immediately shows the correct date and time.

Configurable alerts
The LiveView smartphone app lets you configure the LiveView to give updates on text messages, incoming calls, Facebook and Twitter updates, RSS and calendar alerts. When a call is incoming, the LiveView shows the phone number and name of the caller if they are in your address book. You can mute the call so it goes to voicemail. Incoming texts can be read on the LiveView so you don’t have to get your phone out to see them.

The LiveView can be set to vibrate when new alerts are issued so that you can’t fail to notice them if you are wearing the device on your wrist. You move around on the LiveView by a combination of tapping the screen fascia up down left and right, and using a somewhat flimsy button on the top right edge.

You can even use the LiveView to find your phone. Choose that option, and it plays an alert tone on the phone so you can locate it if it’s nearby. Close enough to be within Bluetooth range, that is. SonyEricsson has big plans for LiveView – and has third-party developers at work on apps for it, some of which are already available.

The downsides
There are issues, though. The LiveView lost its Bluetooth connection a few times during testing and even crashed once or twice. On some occasions we had to unpair and re-pair. The calendar connection only issues notifications, picking these up over Bluetooth as they are issued by your handset. It doesn’t actually display your full commitments list.

And LiveView does nothing at all with regard to incoming email. The 1.3in 128×128-pixel display is rather small to view, and in general we found the LiveView pretty fiddly to use. Leaving Bluetooth on also drains your handset battery faster than if it were turned off, of course.

Company: Sony Ericsson

Website: http://www.sonyericsson.com


Verdict
LiveView is quite a clever idea. But the software needs an overhaul to deal with crashing and loss of pairing, and it's something else that you have to remember to keep charged, and yet another thing to carry. And really, what's the problem with doing all that it offers directly on your phone?