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Samsung Galaxy Gear: Is it really worth buying?

February 02, 2014 10:56 IST

Samsung Galaxy Gear: Is it really worth buying?

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Himanshu Juneja

Does the recent price cut make the once exorbitantly priced watch, with still limited phones to work with, an attractive option now? Let's take a closer look.

Samsung recently has announced a price cut on the Galaxy Gear, the smart watch being offered by the company. The watch now retails for Rs 14,990 from the previous price of Rs 22,990. Besides displaying time, helps one out with managing calls and messages and also lend a hand while sifting through music library. But does the recent price cut makes the once exorbitantly priced watch, with still limited phones to work with, an attractive option now? Let's take a closer look.

Specs:

  • Processor: 800MHz
  • Display: 1.6" SAMOLED @ 320 x 320 resolution
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Memory: 4 GB
  • Battery: 315 mAh

Design and built

We have to give it to Samsung here really. They have tried a good deal to make the watch look attractive and the results show.

The strap is of good quality rubber and the dial is metal based. The watch comes with a variety of colours for straps and if you are lucky, you can get different shades of the metallic dial as well. Speaking of the dial, the metallic rectangle looks impressive with the four screws sitting on the four corners. One finds the lone button along the side and that is the power button.

The watch latches on snugly onto your wrist and looks comfortable sitting there.

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Photographs: samsung.com

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Battery

Samsung has been quite conservative while giving out the 315 mAh battery's performance stats. According to the firm, the Galaxy Gear delivers a day's performance on a single charge, however users generally have been able to make the watch last nearly double that amount. Especially after fiddling with the watch initially and basically setting it up, normal usage is more or less going to see to it that the watch asks for charging after nearly two days.

That is impressive.

Charging

The Galaxy Gear comes with a docking cradle and the charger. Sadly, the wireless charging is not an option here.

Interface and performance

The Gear is paired via either the NFC technology, ie by tapping it with the compatible device, or via Bluetooth.

To activate/wake the Gear watch up, the user simply has to pull it up to the eye level or use the power button. The former option can of course be disabled to save on accidental activation or to save battery.

Upon activation, the clock greets the user first up. A simple swipe will reveal the dialer for calling facility. This shortcut via a watch really is what makes one gush about the watch. Swiping in different directions will either fire up the camera, or allow one to browse through different apps and services.

A double tap brings up the battery stat and other few settings, whereas tapping the screen with two fingers will reveal recent apps menu. A double tap on home button brings up S voice. So all in all Samsung has definitely done its bit to maximise the tapping options in the tiny screen itself.

S voice seemed lagging with its execution, but it brings a lot on to the table. One can reply to messages, call people, send emails, or even open an app. Once the lag is taken care of, it's usage should become more popular.

The notification concept is pretty neat for the Gear's functionality, but needs some rapid work in this area. The notification for the native apps appear 'properly' sent and user can read the full message with the notification itself, but for non-native ones, they were simply alerts and one had to navigate to the respective app, and open it up to read the new message. This really can become annoying at times and will make it appear like functionality has been haphazardly pulled together for a release.

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Photographs: samsung.com

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Gear Manager

The gear manager app on your mobile phone is where you remotely take care of your new Gear watch. The app is essential for tweaking the various settings and hence keeps running in the background, keeping a tab of what all is being done via the Gear watch. The manager's icon is very much visible on the notification bar as well.

The Gear manager mainly allows one to prioritise which of the notifications are to be received via the Watch. The app also allows users to choose different setting for the gear like clock types, themes for the gear and select which apps are to be downloaded as well.

Once getting used to is done, the Gear manager becomes pretty much the station to control and tune up the watch.

There are the pre-installed apps like Find My device, Pedometer, Media controller, Weather, Timer and stopwatch which come pre-installed. All these are pretty handy and a must for the kind of device Samsung is aiming to popularise.

Apart from this, users can download Twitter and Facebook as well but one still cannot overlook the fact that the apps for this device are pretty much limited. The crammed screen space already and will remain a concern, and non-availability of optimised apps won't help the case either.

Interestingly, the gear manager has included a very useful feature called as the Find my Gear which will come in handy should you misplace your precious Galaxy Gear. To pay the compliment back, the Gear has a feature called Find my Phone, and this again should come to the rescue of many.

Last but not the least, the ability to swipe through your music collection makes up for a very feature in itself.

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Photographs: samsung.com
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Camera

The Gear watch carries a 1.9MP camera on the strap itself which really sticks out like an eyesore, but for those precious moments not getting lost, this might be overlooked.

The camera takes pretty okay shots while clicking outdoors with good ambient lighting, but the shots clicked indoors are pretty average. Shot mode has been provided for user's convenience here. Also, one can change to Macro focus as per the requirement. The camera is capable of capturing 720p videos as well which are worth 15 seconds to keep the users reminded that the watch only has 4GB of in built memory.

The pictures and videos are instantly sent to the phone via bluetooth as it is the default setting. Users can of cource turn the automatic sending off to conserve the Gear's battery.

All in all, the camera seems to have been included here to capture the moments which would be lost if somebody had to fish out the phone from the pocket and hence seems like a decent addition. Though future hardware/software upgrade should lead to better results.

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Photographs: samsung.com
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Verdict

With the Galaxy Gear recently getting the price cut, the offering by Samsung has become a bit more sensible. But given the usage, design and limited number of devices the Gear would work with, the amount still looks a bit premium.

Nonetheless, Samsung has tried to bring out a novelty accessory and has done its bit to stack it up with as many practical features possible, making it hard to discredit or overlook this new gadget.

For people who like the idea of wearing a nifty device which will ease their work a bit, especially the users with big devices like the Note, and don't mind spending some good money, this should work out as a fun accessory to play around with. But honestly speaking, people should hold off until more devices get the support and another hardware revision shows up. Till then it looks like a very decent prototype device.

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Photographs: samsung.com
Tags: Samsung

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