Samsung’s Galaxy Gear starts smartwatch wars
With Samsung’s recent announcement about its Galaxy Gear, a “smartwatch” that can receive notifications, control music, take photos and make phone calls, opinions have been flying in from around the tech world. While most everyone agrees that the Gear is compatible on disappointingly few handsets (only the Note 3 and Note 10.1 2014 edition are compatible out of the box, with the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II getting added functionality at a later date). There’s still plenty of spare opinion to go around.
Jonathan Cheng and Min-Jeong Lee of the Wall Street Journal suspect that heavy smartphone users will be unimpressed by the $300 watch and its relatively pedestrian feature set.
“The relatively limited functionality of Samsung’s smartwatch and small rectangular screen likely will disappoint those who had expected a watch with a full slate of functions and a bendable display that would conform to a human wrist,” Cheng and Lee write.
Business Insider’s Jay Yarow gives the Gear the most milquetoast of responses when he says of the watch’s size, “At first glance, it seems okay.”
But surely the more tech-savvy writers will be more excited for this thing, right?
Maybe not so much.
Zach Honig of Engadget felt like the Gear was clearly a first-generation device.
“We haven’t been blown away by any smartwatch’s performance, and that’s much the case here,” Honig said. “The Gear feels awfully sluggish, whether you’re launching an app such as Evernote or Path, or swiping down from the home screen to activate the camera.”
He added that the interface wasn’t exactly ideal for on-the-go use.
“The interface also feels a bit clunky and unpolished at times, and the S Voice feature, which responds to commands just like its smartphone and tablet counterparts, can only be activated by tapping the home button twice — hardly convenient when you’re running or riding a bike,” he said.
Disappointingly, The Verge’s Vlad Savov felt the same lag that Honig did, but he found a silver lining in the camera.
“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,” Savov said. “Additionally, the speaker built into the buckle is too quiet and makes the old sci-fi action of conducting a phone call via your watch a possibility only in quiet areas. On the plus side, the camera built into the Galaxy Gear produces surprisingly decent pictures and there are 4GB of onboard storage to stash them on if you’re away from your smartphone.”
Will Oremus from Slate had the sunniest take on the Gear due to his excitement that the present had finally caught up to the past he so enjoyed in Dick Tracy comics.
“Think of it as Google Glass for your wrist, or — sure, why not? — the first device that can legitimately claim to be a 21st century version of Dick Tracy’s “2-way wrist radio.”
Ultimately, none of these opinions will matter as much as the consumer that will purchase the Gear. Will they be interested in a watch that needs to be tethered to a select few Samsung phones to have any value? Will they pay $300 for a watch? We’ll find out very shortly.
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