Samsung Galaxy Gear a pricey toy - review

2014-02-18 13:20
Samsung is hoping to drive wearable technology with the Galaxy Gear smart watch. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Samsung is hoping to drive wearable technology with the Galaxy Gear smart watch. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch review

2014-02-18 09:11

Wearable technology promises to take your mobile technology to the next level, but it's still early days to see whether the new toys can deliver. Watch. WATCH

Cape Town - Wearable technology promises to take your mobile technology to the next level, but it's still early days to see whether the new toys can deliver.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear gets design right with its elegant aluminium finish. It's the kind of look that immediately gets noticed and beats the geek label for wearable tech.

In fact, the Gear feels solid and perhaps indicates a future design direction for Samsung smartphones.

A woman unfamiliar with the technology was immediately attracted to the device, saying: "Oh that looks really bold."

But the Gear is more than just a fancy watch: It links to a Samsung Galaxy smartphone via Bluetooth and reports messaging notifications as well as information apps like a pedometer and camera.


And the fact that this technology is relatively new means that it feels unfinished. It's not the easiest thing to read the notifications on the touch screen and it still seems easier to look at the phone for notifications rather than the Gear.

Given that Galaxy Note and S4 smartphones are feature rich, it is critical that there is an app ecosystem for the Gear to increase its usability.

Samsung has tried to make the Gear attractive with a camera built into the strap, but it is plagued by condensation when wearing for just a few hours.

The 1.9 megapixel camera is acceptable for upload-to-Facebook shots, but not nearly as good as the cameras on the Samsung smartphones.

On test, the condensation formed on the camera lens within minutes into a Johannesburg to Cape Town flight.

You can control the device with the Gear Manager app from Samsung that allows you to manage notifications, and multimedia on the smart watch.

In the future it is expected that third party apps will also be managed similarly, or perhaps even allow different smartphones to manage the Gear.

Check out our News24 video review of the Gear:

Competing devices

The 315mAh battery on the device lasts longer than one would expect given that it's operating Bluetooth and the display lights up when you turn the smartphone to look at it.

But given the price, one would have expected a leather strap, rather than the polycarbonate (ahem, plastic).

There is no doubt that wearable technology will grab an increasing share of the smart device market, but it is early days yet and the Gear is a start that at least allows wearable tech to enter the discussion.

Indeed, there are competing devices like the Sony smartwatch, Nike+ sports watch and TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch, and the market will choose winners and losers.

The Gear is a bit on the pricey side with a recommended retail price of around R4 000, and it's limiting because it only works with Samsung smartphones.

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