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Samsung Gear smart watch: Is it the best gadget of 2013?

December 24, 2013 09:17 IST

Samsung Gear smart watch: Is it the best gadget of 2013?

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Vipul Vivek

The Samsung Gear smartwatch is nowhere near James Bond's tech devices, but to be able to talk to someone on your watch is no less exciting.

The watch that doubles up as a feature phone exemplifies the adage of today's fiction being tomorrow's fact.

If you find the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 phablet irresistible but are troubled by its big size, then the Gear comes to your rescue.

The smartwatch lets you receive and make calls and texts, among a few other tasks, from your wrist while your phone idles.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Samsung

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Gear does not take a SIM card or a data connection. You have to connect it to the Note 3 over Bluetooth and then the watch acts as an alter ego, though with reduced functions, of the phone.

The now officially Apple copycat Samsung must be proud of the Gear, among the first smartwatches, as it has left behind the former innovator in the race for wearable smart devices.

But, once your initial amazement is over, you start feeling disappointed with the Gear.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Samsung

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Samsung Gear smart watch: Is it the best gadget of 2013?

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But for a few third-party apps like Evernote, the smartwatch is a basic phone with a camera. No email, no Facebooking, no tweeting, no chats.

The price is no less prohibitive at Rs 23,650, especially since it works with only the Galaxy Note 3.

Though Samsung says the smartwatch will be upgraded to work with Galaxy S3 & S4 and Note 2, it is still a narrow choice. You're stuck in the Samsung Galaxy ecosystem.

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Charging the watch is a bit of a task as it doesn't have USB port. There's a charging shell that wraps around the watch and has the port.

Battery backup was great with the 315 mAh lithium ion battery, as it lasted almost 20 hours after a charge - but then there's not much you can do with the watch. Carrying the charging dock around is cumbersome.

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Gear has a silver metal face and rubberised strap that comes in a range of colours from black to orange.

On the wrist, it sits like a typical watch, because of its light weight. It's not water-resistant however. So, there's one more shortfall, if Samsung intends you to use it as a watch.

Gear looks deceptively simple. Starting it takes some time as you figure out that just switching on the Bluetooth doesn't get your watch running.

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The first time you have to keep the Note 3 on the turned-up charging dock to set up the connection (via NFC) and begin updating the Gear software.

One great thing is that Samsung's S Voice software lets you control many of the functions by talking to the watch (though the accent could be a stumbling block at times) once activated through the Note.

In the next version, I'd like to do this on the watch itself instead of going to the phone.

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The Gear sensor is a loyal little dog, promptly waking up each time you face it. You can set up the home screen type between varieties of analogue and digital clocks from the phone as well as the text font and colour.

Swipe down to launch the dialer and up for the 1.9MP camera bulging out from the strap; left and right swipes will open the function tiles - notifications (for messages and missed calls), S Voice, voice memo, pictures & videos, media player (to play on the phone, not the watch sadly), a pedometer app and settings.

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You could also go straight to the apps tile and then launch the functions. The camera takes decent pictures in 1:1 and 4:3 aspect ratios and you can also make 15-second videos.

The interface is very basic but fast because of the 800MHz processor. The only trouble is you can't jump the tile queue - you have to swipe all the way to what you are looking for.

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The calling and messaging functions are like those in a basic phone. But you always have to talk on the loudspeaker if you receive a call on the watch, unlike a phone.

This is even if you're wearing earphones: the call is not routed to the phone.

Certainly, you don't want everyone on the metro or in office to listen to you chatting with your girl or boy friend.

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But credit is must where it is due: The loudspeaker is good enough and you don't have to keep the watch glued to your ear, even in a mildly busy place.

Samsung's Gear watch is a sign of times to come. To judge it on what it has failed to become would be to miss seeing what it could become.

With Apple said to be readying its own wearable watch next year, it's only imperative for Samsung that it does not lose its lead in the race like the proverbial hare.

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Specifications of Samsung Gear smartwatch

Processor: 800 MHz

Display: 1.63-inch Super AMOLED (320 x 320 pixels)

Camera: 1.9 MP auto focus

Video: HD (720p)

Connectivity: Bluetooth v 4.0

Memory: 4GB internal memory + 512 MB RAM

Dimensions: 6.8 x 56.6 x 11.1 mm, 73.8g

Battery: Li-ion 315mAh


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