Do you carry multiple gadgets to track your running stats? Most people carry at least 3: a smartphone, a fitness watch, a music headset, and optional heartrate monitor. With the new Sony Smart B-Trainer, all you need is one device. Read on to find out how it fares as Sony Singapore passed me a review unit.
What It Is
Sony B-Trainer is quite remarkably an all-in-one fitness tracking music player with 16GB internal memory to store your songs, and built with 6 sensors:
– Heartrate Monitor
These sensors track your activity and the free Smart B-Trainer app translates the data into 11 running logs: Heart rate, calories burned, distance, time, speed, pace, pitch, steps, strides, running route, altitude
What is equally impressive is the amount of technology that is packed into a pair of wearable rested comfortably on your ears. It also comes with a bagful of accessories, one of the most comprehensive I’ve seen in recent years.
– earbuds (4 sizes)
– swimming earbuds (4 sizes)
– heart-rate sensor adjustment cover (3 sizes)
– adjustment band
– USB charging cradle
– carrying pouch with holder clip
One of the unique features of the Smart B-Trainer is that it automatically plays the song based on your running pace. In order for the device to be so smart, it needs to scan your songs and group them based on the song tempo. It is done by installing the transfer software – Media Go (Windows) or Content Transfer (Mac) – pre-stored in the Smart B-Trainer. For best results, choose music with strong beats so that the software can detect. Although you can also transfer songs directly to the Smart B-Trainer like an external drive, the songs may not be categorised according to the right tempo.
With your music in the headset, pair it with your smartphone using NFC or manual Bluetooth, install the Smart B-Trainer app, and configure your training programme.
Once all the above is set up, the B-Trainer is ready to go out alone, without requiring any other additional devices on tow.
The moment you turn on the Smart B-Trainer, you will be guided by pleasant female voice prompts that reads information in hi-fi quality. The Smart B-Trainer has a handful of buttons to give you control over the device. The power button doubles as an info button to read out your training programme and progress. Dedicated play-pause, track and volume controls let you toggle the music. A Bluetooth button lets you turn on, turn off, or switch music playback from B-Trainer to your smartphone. Finally, a silver button start-stop your training.
To ensure you record all the vital stats (pun unintended), make sure the Smart B-Trainer detects your heart rate and GPS is locked-on, which may take a few minutes. The voice prompt will update you when it’s done. From there, you can commence your training by pressing the silver button. Despite looking intimidatingly large, the headset wears comfortably. The neckband length is just nice on me, and the headset fits firmly against my ears. The snug fit ensures the headset does not rock as I run, but for people with smaller head, there is a while adjustment band to tighten the neckband against your neck.
I have no complaints about the audio quality, delivering good balance of treble and bass to motivate your runs. The Smart B-Trainer also has a voice memo feature to let you take notes in case you needed to record information while jogging in the absence of any other devices.
When you have completed your run, transfer the data to your smartphone app and review your results. The app even maps the music playlist against the route map allowing you to know where each song was played. At the moment, the Smart B-Trainer is not compatible with other fitness apps, neither can the fitness data be exported.
Running with Smartphone
I asked my fitness peers and most of them still carry their smartphone with them for runs. If you prefer to see live updates of your progress, then you can control and monitor your training from the smartphone app, which offers additional features like manually select your preferred song tempo while you run, and answering calls. You can also play music via your smartphone app like normal wireless headsets.
Swimming with Smart B-Trainer
I was rather pleased to learn that the Smart B-Trainer can also be used for swimming. It comes with special swimming earbuds to prevent water from entering the speaker drivers. With that, there is no need to purchase a separate waterproof MP3 headset. There is currently no official app to capture swimming data, so you can only use the headset for music purpose without workout data.
Due to the multiple usage modes, Sony has broken down the various battery stats in detail:
Training mode (sensors activated)
– GPS+Bluetooth On: 3 hours, 3.5 hours (battery saving mode)
– GPS On only: 4.5 hours, 5.5 hours (battery saving mode)
– GPS Off + Bluetooth On: 4 hours
– GPS Off only: 6 hours
Music listening in non-training mode
– GPS+Bluetooth On: 3.5 hours
– GPS On only: 5 hours
– GPS Off + Bluetooth On: 6 hours
– GPS Off only: 13.5 hours
It takes 1.5 hours to fully charge the battery.
Supported audio file formats
– MP3: 32-192kbps, max 48kHz, VBR
– WMA: 32-192kbps, max 44.1kHz, VBR
– WAV: 1411kbps, 44.1kHz
– AAC: 16-320kbps, max 48kHz, VBR
Other Product Specs
Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
Weight: 49 g
Water resistance: IPX5/IPX8
Audio Driver: 4mm EX
Connectivity: NFC, Bluetooth 4.0
Codecs: SBC, AAC
The Sony Smart B-Trainer looks like a perfect jogging and swimming companion for those who works out without carrying smartphone. The auto playlist based on running pace works well so I don’t get distracted by wrong-tempo songs. The app interacts well with the headset, letting you configure your training plan and capturing a lot of data to analyse your progress.
But the built-in sensors would be largely redundant if you still carry a smartphone for runs. While its audio quality is good enough for audio enjoyment outside my workout, I am hesitant to wear it for daily commute due to the size. I also find the Bluetooth audio streaming quality not as good as other Bluetooth headsets.
The Sony Smart B-Trainer retails at S$399 and available in 5 colours (white, black, yellow, blue, pink) at Sony Stores, Sony Centres and all good electronic stores in Singapore.