Friday, September 13, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Gear

The Verge reports: [edited]

The $299 Galaxy Gear is quite unlike anything you've seen before. Yes, it's a smartphone accessory that can pick up notifications, control music playback, and keep time with a rich variety of watch faces, but Samsung takes it a few steps further by integrating a 1.9-megapixel camera, a speaker, and two microphones — allowing you to shoot short 720p movies and even conduct phone calls with the Galaxy Gear.

It is not a phone in its own right — it relies on a Bluetooth connection to your Samsung Galaxy device in order to do most of its connected work. When it goes on sale later this month, the Gear will be compatible with the freshly announced Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition, while software updates for the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S III, and Galaxy Note II are in the works to introduce compatibility there as well.

It features a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display with 320 x 320 pixel resolution, a single-core 800MHz Exynos processor, a metal face and buckle, and a selection of six different shades of adjustable wrist band.

Basic onboard apps include a pedometer and the ability to find your Galaxy, but most impressive is the number of compatible apps. Samsung says there's over 70 to choose from — which can be installed via the Galaxy Gear Manager app on your phone, including Pocket, Path, Evernote, RunKeeper, and Runtastic Pro.

There are a couple of significant downsides that temper my enthusiasm for the new Gear. First and foremost is the speed and intuitiveness of the user interface — or rather, the lack thereof. There's a tangible lag to anything you do with the Gear, while the swipe gestures are hard to figure out and do different things depending on where you are in the menus.

Additionally, the speaker built into the buckle is too quiet and makes conducting a phone call via your watch a possibility only in quiet areas; it also doesn't play back any music, it just controls output on your connected device.

Samsung promises "about a day" of endurance from the Gear, but by the end of our briefing with the company, the cameras on most of its demo units were refusing to turn on due to the watches running low on power.

On the plus side, the camera built into the Galaxy Gear produces surprisingly decent pictures and there's 4GB of onboard storage to stash them on if you're away from your smartphone. The Galaxy Gear will launch globally in late September and will be available in the United States in early October.

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