The Smart Watch Alternative
I was in the researching the Smartwatch to go with my Xperia Z1 and I stumbled across this on Sony’s website. They had this really great commercial that showed the versatility of the device such and one of the features that caught my attention was that you can hold it to yourr ear and talk through it as if it was a “mini phone.”
So like an impulsive fool, I went and found one on eBay for $99 which was a great price since other sites sold this for $129 and higher! Was this impulsive buy worth it? Or is this another piece of redundant technology? Let’s find out!
The Sony SBH52 is full of features. Here’s a quick list of what it can has and what it can do:
- It’s a Bluetooth Headset, Handset and speakerphone!
- A2DP Audio Streaming Capability
- Built in FM Radio
- Quick NFC Pairing
- Splash/Weather Resistant
- Smart App Enabled for Twitter/Facebook/Email Notifications
The Sony SBH52 has a sleek light design that resembles that of a thumbdrive and the classic iPod Shuffle put together. It looks better than both of those devices, really. On the front of the device you have the built in mic and speaker with the answer/hangup button. Flip the device around, you have a sturdy built in clip that will clip to your shirt or pockets.
On the right side of the device, you have the menu, fast forward, pause/play/select/ and go back buttons. These will also help you with simple navigation through the device menus.
Standard headphone port at the top so you can use any of your headphones, instead of the cheap quality ones that Sony packs in the box!
I really like how light this thing is and you don’t really notice this when you have it clipped on your shirt and it doesn’t occupy too much pocket space. The only thing you have to ask yourself, especially for the minimalists is that do you really want to carry another device? More on this later…
Pairing this to my Sony Xperia Z1 was a literally a snap. I just put the SBH52 on the back of my Xperia and it paired immediately and asked if I wanted to download the additional software and Smart Apps. When I did this on my Galaxy Note 3, it also paired immediately but didn’t ask to download the additional apps. Those I had to grab manually but for some reason the SBH52 Android App did not work with the Note 3, but the other Smart Apps did.
Sound quality through the headphones was fantastic. Really loud and clear and I couldn’t tell the difference in sound when being plugged directly to the device. Calls also sounded great even when using the SBH52 as a handset but the speakerphone was a little on the quiet side. You are actually better off using your phone’s built in speakerphone rather than the SBH52’s.
The LCD display is great. You can view the time, see your Facebook/Gmail/Twitter/Missed Call notifications using the Sony Smart Apps you can get from the Play Store but you have to keep in mind that you get a really limited view of your notifications. For those who use other messaging apps, it won’t work with Hangouts, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc since there is no app support for that yet. Navigating through the device was rather easy using the forward, back and play buttons but it would have been much nicer if I could program my own preset radio stations rather than having to manually screen through the frequencies. Also, you can only scroll through like the last few callers to redial and you are going to need to rely on your phone’s built in voice commands to dial out if you want to keep your phone in your bag or pockets.
The SBH52 had so issues staying connected to my Sony Xperia Z1, but on my Galaxy Note 3, it frequently got disconnected. For some reason, it helped having the NFC on in my Note 3 but it still had occasional disconnects which is a huge disadvantage for those who have other devices other than a Sony. I also tried this on my iPhone 5S and noticed that the device got disconnected a lot too and had to be re-paired making it useless for iPhone owners.
One of the questions you have to ask yourself is that if it’s worth $129-$159. I would it is a great Bluetooth device if you own an Xperia phone to take full advantage of the features and if you currently don’t have a Bluetooth device. For the price, I feel that the speakerphone and built in handset features are redundant and Sony’s justification is that you can still take calls with your device in bag while you commute but in this modern world, people 99% of the time carry this in their pockets to check emails and social networks. And finally, as mentioned earlier, the SBH52 is unreliable on non Sony devices. If you want a good bluetooth device, my recommendation is still the LG Tone HBS700 which has a new version available,
- Highly versatile device
- Excellent Sound Quality
- Beautiful design
- Water Resistant
- Somewhat redundant and not practical for the average consumer
- Only works best with Sony Xperia smartphones
- Limited App support
Overall Rating: 2.5/5