I’ve long been a sceptic – can it really be worthwhile to have much more than the time on your wrist? Can someone build a product that almost naturally displays the information you want or need but this time in a whole new device? Is the current “smarter watch” the real smartwatch of the future. Wearing the Samsung Gear 2 for a week – my mind is made up.
I enjoy using watches that look every bit a normal watch, but come packed with new features like vibrating or beeping alerts for mail or social notifications, even controlling your music playback from the watch.
And I thought the idea of a “touch screen” on my wrist would simply be too much.
Samsung’s first attempt the Galaxy Gear didn’t set the world on fire. It was big, bulky, the camera was in the wrist band, the band wasn’t interchangeable – all simple, yet crippling issues.
The Gear 2 (Dropping the “Galaxy” moniker) is a whole new ballgame.
It’s thinner, smaller, more integrated. It feels just like a normal watch on your wrist, doesn’t look bulky at all – in fact the only real reason people “notice” the Gear 2 is the bright screen when it turns on.
Inactive the screen is off – dark. When you twist your wrist to look at the time the watch lights up. That’s good for battery – as we know the screen on your smartphone is the thing that chews up loads of battery – however, you’re still only going to get a bit over two days of life from this thing.
And that is really the achilles heel of the Gear 2 – Battery. Not that it’s got a bad battery, or that it should be better – which it should. The problem is the need to charge it at all. You have to form a whole new routine, a new habit – to charge your watch every night. Just seems strange. And the charger isn’t a MicroUSB in the side of the watch, it’s a special dock that clips onto the back and is then powered by MicroUSB. This means for most there is one location in your life where this device can be charged.
It needs a MicroUSB in the actual watch. Make that happen and I’ll struggle to complain.
I don’t make a lot of phone calls. When I do, I’ve not been inclined to make them on my smartwatch. After the initial few calls for tricks, that really becomes a last resort hands free for the car and nothing else.
Text, Email, Facebook, Twitter, real-time rich and content full notifications is the true winner for this device. In a meeting, at your desk, wherever you are – your phone can be in your pocket or your bag yet you can still read your messages.
It seems simple, but it really does keep you focussed and on-track.
The second best feature is the TV remote control. Emulating the brilliance of having that on-board the latest smartphones, the Gear 2 has a simple volume, channel, power and input feature set for your TV and Set Top Box. I drove my kids crazy changing the channels without them knowing. But in reality when the remote is missing or out of reach it’s the perfect lazy man’s alternative.
The camera produces quick and simple snapshots that are rarely worth sharing and it’s a bit slow on the shutter speed from when you tap the screen – this takes some getting used to. It’s a cool feature, but not a reason to buy.
Checking your heart rate on the Gear 2 is hit and miss – with most people not wearing their watch so tight that it works first go – I found I had to pull the band to press the watch down onto my skin to get a good reading.
Measuring steps with the pedometer was useful, yet for a true count you’ll be better off with a dedicated band that you can wear almost 24/7. If you don’t put your watch on until you leave home you’re missing steps at home – that can count for a lot.
There’s fitness measurement like Running, Walking, Cycling and Hiking which will prove very useful for the semi pro who isn’t quite ready for the full GPS watch experience but for the average user they’re not likely to get much of a workout.
Apps can be installed from the Samsung App store with ease, and while there are very few available now, in just the week I’ve been using it the popular 2048 game has been made available on the Gear 2 so that’s a good sign developers are thinking about the device.
When I look back at my thoughts it seems a bit hit and miss, however like with many fancy new things these days much of the stuff that’s easily overlooked aren’t the things people are looking for from the device.
Buyers of the Gear 2 will be early adopters looking for the edge on their mates, and the Gear 2 delivers – in spades.
It’s only available to pair with Samsung Devices which is an error for my mind – make it a true “smartwatch” and release the app for all Android (and even iOS) devices and Samsung could exponentially outsell their own hopes and dreams.
For now though, if you’ve got a Samsung Smartphone and have the faintest interest in the idea of a smartwatch – go buy the Gear 2. Buy it now – you’ll love it.
The Gear 2 is $369 and should be found at major retailers of electronic goodness.
I for one am loving the smarts that sit on my wrist and am now convinced the smartwatch is a sector – a sector Samsung will dominate if someone else doesn’t step in – and soon.