Reviewed by Sithembile Ncube
So for the past couple of months I’m sure most of us have skimmed through articles on smartwatches, Google glass and how wearable technology is going to be the future. I’ve been fascinated but I haven’t been as enthused as others because I haven’t seen the gap it would be filling in my everyday life. Last week I got the chance to try out the Galaxy Gear and Note 3 courtesy of Samsung Zambia and had quite an adventure scrutinizing it and testing it’s limits.
First impression: The very first thing I noticed when I saw it, is that it’s not as chunky as you’d expect. With only one button for power and reset it doesn’t give have the look of a complex piece of technology. The clean face and polished steel give it an elegant look. I’ve heard people complain about the weight but I’m pretty sure I’ve work bracelets heavier than it.
Setting it up: Right. Now that we’re done eyeing it, time to set it up. The set up is really really simple for a brand new device. Make sure you have a Samsung account before you begin though. Using the Near Field Communication feature used by the Sbeam, you simply need to hold the back of the charging cradle to the back of the Note 3 and the NFC will activate the install from the Samsung Hub. If the phone has been used previously, you might have to clear the Samsung Hub cache before trying to set it up. Once the gear manager is installed, pairing it via bluetooth will be easy as all you have to do is verify a PIN sent between the devices.
Features: So if you look at the specs of the Galaxy Gear they’re pretty good for a tiny device. The Gear is meant to act as an extension of your smartphone so does have some pretty useful features. Bluetooth for up to about 100m, 320×320 resolution multitouch touch 1.6 inch screen, 1.9MP camera, microphone, speakers, SVoice and can facilitate voice calls. Here’s a full list of the features.
- 800MHz Exynos CPU
- 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display at 320×320 resolution
- 1.9MP camera with BSI sensor
- 720p video recording and playback
- Featured apps from Atooma, Banjo, Evernote, Glympse, eBay, Line, MyFitnessPal, Path, Pocket, RunKeeper, TripIt and Vivino
- Samsung Apps and ChatON messaging service
- 2 microphones, 1 speaker
- Bluetooth 4.0 and LE
- Accelerometer, Gyroscope
- 4GB on-board storage
- 512MB RAM
- 315mAh battery
- Additional features – Smart Relay, S Voice, Auto Lock, Find My Device, Media Controller, Pedometer, Stopwatch, Timer
- Safety assistance
Apps: Right off the bat the Gear Manager will give you 10 apps, 6 of which are installed onto the Galaxy Gear. The apps include Notifications, a Camera, Pedometer, Voice Notes, S Voice etc
The camera was my favorite thing about the Gear right from the box. It has surprisingly good resolution and can take pics . It also allows you to record sounds with pictures and allows for 15 second videos. Also people won’t even notice you’re taking pics (if you ignore the loud shutter sound!) so it makes for some really fun spying :D. The pics and videos can be automatically transferred to the smartphone that’s connected.
More Apps?: Besides the camera and the pedometer, more apps are made available through the Samsung Hub. BUT due to our region we did not have access to any apps on the hub which is a quite a big problem engaging local customers. If you don’t mind getting a little technical though, the Galaxy Gear is pretty much a regular Android device with a tiny screen so you can actually port any app onto it using the Android Development Bridge and Fastboot. It’s really really easy to do if you follow the instructions and you will feel an awesome sense of accomplishment too 🙂
Once you get decide to tinker with it a little you can treat it as if it were any android 4.2.2 device. Minus internet, external memory and with a tiny screen, you’d think it’d be super limiting but one of the first things I decided to try was Temple Run. It worked for it’s size. Even the tilt function worked. And the common slide down gesture functioned a menu in game. I only had the Gear for a limited time but I did manage to install a couple of games like Doodle Jump, Candy Crush Saga, Bejeweled and Poker. Some worked some didn’t. Other than putting games on the gear. You can also put video and music on it. But that would require the Gear to be rooted so it can access the files directory. This would void the warranty so my experiments would have to stop there.
So here are the good and bad turns the Gear.
- Pretty stylish
- Responsive touch screen
- Great camera
- Cool to own
- Keeps you away from your phone
- Fun to experiment with
- The price! (It’s $300 by the way)
- Only about one day battery life
- Not shockproof or water resistant
- Limited Apps
- Dependency on smartphone
- NO INTERNET (Can be accessed through bluetooth tethering if, once again, you decide to tinker)
I also gave the Gear to a couple of other people to give their first impressions and tweet about it. Here are their thoughts.