Samsung Galaxy Gear

Is the Galaxy Gear leading a wearable device revolution, or does it need more time to develop?

The concept of wearable technology is nothing new. High-tech GPS watches, clip-on health monitors and connected glasses have been around for niche uses for years, but a recently-renewed discussion of these devices as general consumer products has manufacturers rethinking their mobile strategies. It can be argued whether or not the connected smartwatch is something that consumers truly want, but Samsung is getting into the game anyway with its first entry, the Galaxy Gear.

Launched alongside the Galaxy Note 3, the much-rumored Galaxy Gear made its first public appearance at IFA 2013 as a headline product for the Korean electronics behemoth. With a surprisingly nice design and build quality, initial impressions of the Gear were positive across the board. Anyone who put their hands on the Gear had good things to say about it, but the reality of what the device was going to cost and be capable of quickly tempered those feelings.

A $299 accessory that only does a few things, handles just a subset of those functions well, and requires a constant connection to your phone for any of it to work seems like a tough sell. Is Samsung just jumping the gun in order to be part of the recently-renewed conversation about wearable devices, or is the Galaxy Gear something that a general consumer will actually want? Read along and find out in our all-encompassing review of the Samsung Galaxy Gear.

Inside this review: Hardware | Software | Camera | Bottom line

This is one device that is truly more important as a whole than the individual specs under the hood, and along with a nice general walkthrough of the device above, we'll hit you with the full list of specs before we get into the meat of this review:

  • 800MHz Exynos CPU
  • Android 4.2.2
  • 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display at 320 x 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

Galaxy Gear hardware

Samsung Galaxy Gear

Considering that you'll be expected to plunk down a full $299 for a Galaxy Gear (in addition to a Galaxy Note 3), you would hope that the watch feels high quality. And while the Galaxy Gear doesn't give off a premium feel in terms of jewelry or high-end watches, it gives off the same feeling you'd get with a mid-tier sports watch from a big name like Nike, Puma or Adidas. The difference being that you can get a watch that looks and feels the same from the previously mentioned makers for about one third of the price, but there's a whole lot going on under that rubber, plastic and metal exterior that warrants a price bump.

Samsung Galaxy Gear Samsung Galaxy Gear

The Gear looks comically large on those with smaller wrists.

The main components of the Gear are contained in a hard plastic shell with a brushed metal front, accented by four industrial-looking screws at the corners and a glass touchscreen. The band, while not removable, is made of a much more flexible rubber material but doesn't actually pivot at the watch face like a normal watch band does. This is of course to accommodate the camera and speaker components in the band, but makes the watch less flexible (literally and figuratively) to a wide range of wrist sizes. While the Gear fit comfortably on our own wrist on the second-largest band setting, the design is such that it looks comically large on those with smaller wrists even though the band technically gets small enough.

More: Samsung Galaxy Gear initial review

The Gear straddles the line between having a minimalist and outrageous design. On one hand you have a nice brushed metal bezel around the watch face and clasp that would fit in on any traditional watch, and on the other you have things like microphone holes, power buttons and a protruding camera pod on one side of the band. We're going to leave out the fact that our review unit is an amazingly bright orange color because there are much more subtle black and "oatmeal" colors to choose from, but no matter your color choice you're never going to wear this watch inconspicuously.

Samsung Galaxy Gear Samsung Galaxy Gear

When it comes down to how the watch is actually put together and feels on your wrist, you won't be disappointed. Keeping in mind that you're dealing with a mainly plastic and rubber construction, the Gear is made extremely well. You won't find any weird creaks or miscues in the design, and when it sits on your wrist it doesn't feel cheap or uncomfortable – it feels substantial. We wish that Samsung could take some of the design cues from the Gear and put them into their smart phone designs.

The design isn't trying to hide what it is, and is quite attractive.

And while we realize that looks are subjective, we actually found the Gear to be quite attractive. The design is such that it isn't trying to hide what it is — you can tell this isn't an analog or "dumb" digital sports watch, there's something to it. Samsung didn't try to put "smart" functionality into a traditional design, it did things its own way, and we can applaud them for it. The design is well-executed from a style perspective, even if the functionality is lacking in some areas.

Display

Samsung Galaxy Gear

A bright, pixel-dense and outdoor-visible display.

The Galaxy Gear is packing a 1.63-inch 320 x 320 resolution (that's 277 ppi) Super AMOLED display, which is of course also touch-sensitive and covered in glass that is mounted in metal. In terms of brightness and viewing angles, the Gear actually performs quite well in all situations provided you're willing to keep the brightness cranked up to level 4 or higher. If you plan to stay outside for a long period of time you'll probably want to enable the "outdoor" mode, which is one setting higher than the normal highest brightness and really blows out the colors on the display.

Images and text look extremely clear on the Gear, and we never had an issue even in direct sunlight making out what was on the screen. If you look very closely you'll notice some softness in sharp lines, but at 277 ppi the display is plenty dense for the viewing distance of your wrist and the low information density of what is regularly being shown on the screen.

Galaxy Gear software

Samsung Galaxy Gear

On the software front the Gear is actually running Android. But in terms of what it can accomplish on its own it doesn't really make much of a difference what's under the hood. This is Android like you've never seen it before. Actually, you barely even see a traditional Android interface — and that's a good thing, because Samsung has designed an interface that is generally intuitive and easy to use on this form factor.

This is Android like you've never seen it before, but the interface is intuitive for the form factor.

The interface paradigm is not unlike Google Glass, interestingly enough. Your main "home screen" is always the watch face, flanked on the left and right with a series of other screens that each serve one function. Swipe to the right and you'll always have your contacts list then call log available, and with a swipe to the left you'll find a customizable list of your other apps. Swiping down is the effective "back" gesture, and enough swipes in any app will always bring you back to your clock face. A swipe up at the clock face will always bring you to the phone dialer, and a swipe down, the camera.

It really doesn't take long to get used to the interface, and we found ourselves zipping around with ease in no time. Because you have so little screen real estate to work with, apps and interfaces are generally very simple. You get used to diving through multiple hierarchical menus within apps, using the top-down swipe to move back when necessary. We could easily see things getting out of hand if third-party developers aren't careful with their designs, but it hasn't happened to us.

Apps and services

All but the most basic functions stop working if the Gear isn't connected to your phone.

Out of the box you have a very basic but useful set of functions ready to go on the Gear. You'll be able to easily check the weather, upcoming appointments and notifications, although there isn't any deep control or editing over any of them. The functionality continues with a media controller for your phone, a pedometer, S Voice and Voice Memo. Being a watch, you can of course tell time, set a timer and use a stopwatch if you need.

The rightmost home screen on the Gear is an "Apps" button, which holds every available app regardless of whether or not it occupies a current home screen. If you have a single app that you want to have access to at all times, the Gear can be configured to launch it with a double press of the power button – we found it worked well for the stopwatch.

All but the most basic of functions of the Gear stop working, however, if you aren't connected to your smart phone over Bluetooth with the Gear Manager app.

Gear Manager

Gear ManagerVery few of the Galaxy Gear's functions actually work without a constant connection to a Galaxy Note 3, and the app that makes it all happen is Gear Manager. Available on the Note 3 (and presumably future Samsung devices soon) with a tap to the NFC-enabled Gear charging cradle, Gear Manager handles all of the administration — from its internet connection to loading apps and changing settings — for your Gear.

Gear Manager is the only way for you to install, rearrange and hide apps on the watch, and offers the option to change more advanced settings of the apps and watch faces you're using. Beyond just controlling your Gear's functions remotely, the app provides a few interesting functions like finding the watch when it's not on your wrist, and acting as a trusted factor of keeping your phone unlocked when connected.

The app is great to have, because if you had to swipe and tap your way through every bit of setup and control on the Gear itself, you'd probably go crazy. There is curious disconnect, however, between what is done on the Gear and what is done in the Gear Manager app when it comes to settings and customizability.

More: Th​e Galaxy Gear Manager app for the Galaxy Note 3

Watch faces, for example, can be changed on either the Gear or your phone, but advanced settings for the watch faces can only be configured in the app. Some Gear app settings can only be controlled from Gear Manager, and others only from the Gear. Device-only settings like volume and brightness can only be changed on the Gear itself. (Confused yet?)

You simply don't know whether settings will be on the Gear, in the app, or both.

The disconnect is puzzling and often confusing, because when you think to change a setting you simply don't know whether it will be available on the Gear, in the app, or both. The best way to handle this would probably be to duplicate all settings control from the Gear into the Gear Manager app, with changes on one always taking place on the other — after all, the app is basically required to be connected to the watch at all times.

Adding more apps to the Gear

Samsung App Store

When it comes to expanding the number of apps on your Gear, the one and only place you can turn is the "Samsung Apps" button inside Gear Manager. Just as you would expect at this point, the selection of apps available is a little sparse. The apps are divided up into several categories, but the number of apps you find is a bit misleading — many are duplicated across the different categories. You can search, but since there aren't any more than 15 apps in any given category it won't be hard to see every app available at a glance.

Presumably more apps are on the way, but the ones you want probably aren't available right now.

There are a few big names such as Snapchat, eBay, Path, Evernote and RunKeeper available, but you won't see a Gmail or Skype app here. There are third-party choices for big-name services like Facebook and Twitter, but we have yet to find any that are of much use. The two biggest categories in the store are "Social Networking" and "Clock" — the latter of which offers downloadable watch faces with interesting designs that differ from the stock offerings.

It's hard to fault Samsung for not coming out of the gate with all of the best apps and services, and presumably as the Gear gains traction it will have more and more apps available. Just in our time with the Gear we've seen new apps pop into the store, but because it's a proprietary app store uptake will undoubtedly be slow.

In the end we're not even sure how big of a selling point having apps installed on your watch really is — outside of a few cool and niche use cases, how much heavy app usage do you really want to do on your watch? Again considering that the Gear is nearly required to be connected to your phone, we're not sure if this is the best approach to adding functionality to your connected device.

Taking pictures from your wrist

Samsung Galaxy Gear

Yes, this watch has a camera — and Samsung is billing it as a real selling point of the device. By the raw numbers we're looking at a 1.9MP sensor that can either shoot 4:3 (1280 x 960) or 1:1 (1392 x 1392) photos — and 720p video — from the point-of-view of your wrist. Quality is on par with the best front-facing cameras on phones today, and while that's not great it's far better than you'll likely want from a small camera on your watch.

Galaxy Gear Sample Photo Galaxy Gear Sample Photo

Galaxy Gear Sample Photo Galaxy Gear Sample Photo

Actually taking pictures on the Gear is a somewhat frustrating experience. Because the angle of the camera is just about parallel to the screen, you end up lowering your wrist and craning your neck over the screen to properly see the viewfinder and activate the shutter (which is just a tap anywhere on the screen). If you're not super picky about composition you can take pretty acceptable pictures, and you'll often get a shot that you may have missed because your phone was in your pocket.

You can take acceptable pictures with the Gear, but there are few benefits over just using your phone.

The time savings are quickly taken away when you realize that you can't easily share photos directly from the Gear itself. Unless you have a capable app installed (there are none by default), your only options with photos are to delete or transfer to your phone. That means tapping "transfer," taking your phone out, waiting for it to load and then sharing from the phone's gallery – why not just take out the phone for the picture?

In the end we find the camera quality is low enough that we aren't ever going to use it for taking pictures that mean something to us. If we want acceptable quality photos we'll pull out our phone, and in the grand scheme of things taking the phone out takes only a couple seconds more than pulling up your watch and swiping into the camera. We still like the idea of a camera on the Gear for things like adding notes to Evernote and scanning labels or barcodes, but as an imaging device we just aren't impressed.

Using the Galaxy Gear

Samsung Galaxy Gear

So what is it like to use the Galaxy Gear as not only a watch but as a smart phone accessory on a daily basis? Well it turns out this watch has a lot going for it, with just a few flaws in the worst possible places.

Batte​ry life

Samsung may have put a few people off at its unveiling of the Gear when it said that the watch would be able to make it 24 hours on a charge. After our time with the device we think it may have been a case of under-promise and over-deliver, as we easily made it two or even three days on a single charge.

The battery lasted a full two days without a worry, and could go three days in many cases.

Even with the pedometer function enabled, a high screen brightness and one minute screen timeout (the default is 15 seconds) the battery would never dip under 50 percent even after a long day of using the Gear. We still found ourselves plugging it in at the end of the day because we never found it comfortable enough to wear while sleeping, but you won't have to worry about your watch dying on you in the middle of the day.

When you do go to plug it in, the Gear requires a special docking station to get juice out of the wall. The color-matched and appropriately plastic faux leather case clips around the Gear, matching up with the charging pins on the bottom and then uses a standard Micro USB charge port.

Making calls

Because the Galaxy Gear is connected to your phone over Bluetooth, it can take advantage of the standard Bluetooth headset protocols to work as a calling device. When calls come in to your Note 3, your Gear will ring and vibrate with an answer/reject screen, and if you choose to pick up the call you can then talk on speakerphone. The Gear has a pair of microphones on either side of the watch face, and the speaker is integrated into the clasp on the underside of your wrist.

It should be said that you don't have to actually hold the Gear up to your ear like a secret agent, you can easily hear and be heard from the couple feet away your watch usually is. Audio quality seems clear on both ends, and sounds just like you're talking on an average speakerphone from the same distance. We surely wouldn't take any long calls on our Gear if we had the choice, but in a pinch for a quick chat it works just fine.

Pedometer

The Galaxy Gear has actually been the first device that we've kept up with using as a pedometer, and it makes the experience extremely smooth and enjoyable. The built-in pedometer app is simple, tracks steps accurately from what we can tell and links up to S Health on your Galaxy Note 3 perfectly. Having the functionality built into a watch rather than a stand-alone fitness device will make a lot more sense for many people, and it just effortlessly works in the background without much user intervention.

Notifications

Samsung Galaxy Gear

As a true companion device to your phone, the connected smartwatch is a great portal to your phone's notifications — letting you know what's happening on your phone even when it's in your pocket. Unlike other options out there today, the Gear generally falls on its face when trying to handle notifications from your phone and leads to likely the biggest issue we have with the device.

Unless you use Samsung's apps, the Gear doesn't really show you any notifications that are useful.

The Gear has a large, readable and pixel-dense display, but its software can only handle rich notifications from Samsung's first-party apps. If you live in the stock email, messaging and ChatON apps then you'll receive informational notifications on your Gear showing the sender name and preview of a message. But if you're like us you use Gmail, Google Voice, Hangouts, Google+, Twitter, Facebook and a whole host of other apps, not the stock Samsung ones.

And when you use non-Samsung apps, you don't get a rich notification, you simply get notified that there is some kind of notification. Your wrist vibrates, and the screen simply shows a time, an app icon and a number indicating how many unread messages. Tap the icon, and you get a garish window that says you must take out your phone to read the message — tap "OK" and the app will launch on your phone.

Samsung Galaxy GearNow call us crazy, but that seems to somewhat defeat the purpose of having a smartwatch on your wrist that should help you determine whether notifications are worth taking your phone out. We receive a lot of notifications throughout the day, and they are not created equal. Getting a "dumb" notification saying that something just arrived is no more useful than feeling the phone vibrate in your pocket, or watching an LED flash while your phone's on a table. Even further, the Gear doesn't actually notify you for every kind of notification – or example Facebook Messenger simply doesn't get picked up.

Prompting you to pull out your phone to view notifications is far from an ideal user experience.

Being able to read a preview of the message, the sender, the topic, or just about anything more than what it offers now would be immensely helpful. We realize that maybe Samsung saw it as too big of an undertaking to have support for more apps, but the work doesn't seem to have stopped the folks at Pebble and associated third-party apps from enabling notifications for any app on that platform.

Having a connected device on your wrist is supposed to reduce the friction of knowing what's going on, and we quickly found the Gear's notification system to be more a burden than a help.

The bottom line

Samsung Galaxy Gear

Taking all of its features into consideration, the unfortunate end result for the Galaxy Gear is a device that looks much nicer than it performs, yet still demands a premium price as if it had no flaws. Looking beyond simple issues like the number of apps and the necessity of being connected to a phone, the Gear still doesn't do much of anything that you expect it to.

A large but limited install base, extremely limited notifications and high price point are black marks on this otherwise striking smartwatch.

The screen might look great, but the information displayed on it is next to useless. Sure you can take acceptable quality photos, but sharing them is an exercise in jumping through hoops. The process of configuring and managing what apps that are available is far from intuitive, even once you get a handle on where settings for each function live.

Even if you were to somehow look beyond the Galaxy Gear's dramatic shortcomings and wanted to purchase one, the $299 price point would still be asking too much. Furthermore, the potential market for this device, while growing, is extremely small when it is just limited to those with the recently-released Galaxy Note 3. Even opening up compatibility to the Galaxy S4 and Note 2 would still leave 98 percent (or more) of the Android user base out in the cold.

If you want a wearable device that can be tinkered with, has real functionality (now, not just in the future) and can provide you with the contextual information and rich notifications that you expect, a Pebble can be purchased for half the price of the Galaxy Gear and work with just about any Android phone. It may not have the style or quality of the Gear, but it won't be frustrating to use – and in the end that holds a lot of weight with users.

Samsung took a chance releasing the Galaxy Gear to get in on the wearable device market as it comes back into style, and it seems as though it should have left this particular dish in the oven a bit longer. The fundamental parts of a great device and exceptional experience are here, they just need more time to be realized to their full potential.

 

Reader comments

Samsung Galaxy Gear review

131 Comments

I tried one out at BestBuy the other day, and wasn't too impressed. The UI wasn't very good, and it didn't seem like a very finished product. I think tech like Google Glass could be more useful.

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I think the best way to summarize the Galaxy Gear is that it's 'a prototype you can buy'.

Agreed. Even if I were interested in the functionality of a smartwatch, a watch is the only accessory I can reasonably wear in my work environment, and I wouldn't really want to give that up.

What kind of watch(es) do you wear?

I wear an Oris Automatic I've had for 3-4 years. I really cant see wearing one of these gawdy monsteresties. I'm all for smart watches, but only if they have some class.

Depends what your goal for wearing a watch is. But I agree it's tough to walk that line of being a "smart" watch and also looking good in a traditional watch sense.

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I think the Pebble still has the best looks of any smartwatch out there. It pretty much looks like a traditional modern-looking watch, and doesn't try to do more than it does. I've had one for a few weeks, and I love it. Paired with Pebble Notifier and Glance, it kicks the Gear's butt in what they were both meant to do: show the user tidbits of info and their notifications without having to take a phone out.

With that being said, I wouldn't mind a camera, speaker/mic, and a larger screen that is touch enabled on my Pebble, but not at the cost of battery life and simplicity.

The shallow notifications is what turns me away from this. Sony's smartwatch notification actually shows you the details while this just shows the number of notifications per app you have... may just as well pull out your damn phone and check on that.

Meanwhile I'm still going to wear my nice Luminox watch

Agreed -- I thought that with Android 4.3 and the notification listener support, they could have integrated much better notification handling.

There are already three apps available that alter the notifications, it is interesting whether or not people like the device over these things. While there are many smart watched on the market, none connect like this device or do as much as it. I have had mine a month with the Note 2 and I get 2-3 days battery life with significant use. The camera is much more convenient than pulling out my phone for quick shots. I rode a roller coaster at Disney with my kids and the video from the watch looked great for the 1.9 megapixel camera. I know the device isn't perfect but I think it is whether you want to be the pioneer that experiences things when they are new and fresh or the person who comes along after the first ship sailed to see what the fuss is all about. The watch is not the worst looking thing and it makes for easy phone calls in my car since my vehicle lacks BT. The sound quality for the calls is clearer than my wife's car stock BT. I am a geek and was fine taking off my citizen watch for this.

This thing just looks like a huge flop. Overpriced, too big and gaudy, useless notifications and no real reason to own one.

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Here's my review: It's overpriced by at least $200!!! Biggest rip off of 2013!

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Wrong, actually not even close

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My S-Pen went through hell to deliver this important message to you

The most hilarious part is how it's not even remotely waterproofed. Caught in the rain? Better slide that sucker up your sleeve because even some rainfall could seep into that unsealed watch.

Meanwhile, the Pebble is waterproofed enough that you could even take a dip in a small swimming pool with zero concern.

I wore the Gear in the rain and my wrist didn't explode, so that's my anecdotal experience.

Don't wear it while swimming, but if you leave it on your wrist while you wash your hands, I think it'll survive.

Here is what I want out of a "smartwatch":

1.) Pedometer
2.) Sleep monitor/alarm
3.) Heart rate monitor
4.) Body temp monitor
5.) Watch
6.) Notifications
7.) Blood pressure
8.) Waterproof
9.) Sleek/thin
10.) Bluetooth sync

I do not need or want to take pictures, read or send emails/texts or run any apps. However, I would like it to be able to sync with various apps based on those functions.

Agree 100%, but would add definitely add GPS. Only see this for fitness, geocaching, hiking, etc. Orrrrrrrr I need to be able to leave my phone at home.

Uh... not really. I absolutely hate running with my note 2 in my pocket or on my arm. Would love to leave it at home during a run.

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understandable but then you would also need/want this to be a stand alone phone. It is made to accompany the phone. I would say some kind of antenna or signal booster so you can example run on a track in the part and leave the phone in the car but still be able to get signal. Also would need to connect to my Google play.

The reviewer and most of you just don't get the concept,A large amount of us wear watches so a watch that links with the phone works very very well things like sitting having a drink at a pub you leave the phone as you walk of the watch vibrates as connection is lost.I know it takes a while for people to understand things that are new but you have to realise that if you want to upload things to social network sites you do that on your smartphone.You use the gears camera when maybe you need to quickly take a picture of say a takeaway menu or a phone number on a poster

Posted via Android Central App

But there's no real advantage if using the watch over using your phone. I feel more and more like Samsung is trying to solve non-existent problems in a very expensive way with this thing ...

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So why do analyst predict that millions of this type of device will be sold in the future

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"Analysts" are tasked with the responsibility to prompt people to buy (or sell) shares of stock. Their employer will make a commission when you buy, then they will make another commission when they compel you to sell. Public sentiment is pretty strong, smart watches are tech toys, they don't really make a functional gain in the the space. If you leave your phone behind, spend $50 for a blue tooth dongle that thumps when you leave the phone behind or its battery is flattening.

Reviewers gave the note 1 negative reviews not analyst (analyst are paid to be right)reviewers are just paid

Posted via Android Central App

Analysts are paid to give educated guesses. News programs have two analysts with opposing stances on any given topic every day.

They can't both be right.

Analysts predict millions of Gears will be sold, and I don't think they're wrong.

Why?
People don't care that there are better and cheaper options out there (Pebble, the new HOT watch, maybe Sony Smartwatch 2), because all they want is something to show off, the same reason people buy iPhones and iPads instead of lower priced and better specced Android devices. Samsung has become the Apple of the Android world. People don't care how ugly or expensive or useless the device is. They just think it's the best because Samsung is now a household name - just like Apple, and everyone will believe them.

Samsung doesn't care about convincing us techies, we're the minority. They can rake in billions (and already do) by just convincing the general public that they are the best.

Things that are new?! Sony smartwatch has been around for a few years now! Samsung is just trying to remake history, just like Apple.

All the stuff you stated can easily be overcome by simply being a little more diligent, no? Stop being so damn lazy!

Lacking in what way? Overpriced based on what?

With it you can read the full body of an email. What more do you need a watch to do?
With it you can read text. What more do you need a watch to do?
With it you can respond to text. What more do you need a watch to do?
With it you can make phone calls. What more do you need a watch to do?
With it you can receive calls. What more do you need a watch to do?
With it you can take pictures and have them auto transferred to your phone. What more do you need a watch to do?
With it you can shoot video with sound. What more do you need a watch to do?
With it you can take voice memo's. What more do you need a watch to do?
With it you have a bright and colorful display. What more do you need a watch to do?
With it you can tell the time. What more do you need a watch to do?

Clearly the market for this product was not every Android user, and so what's wrong with that? Samsung made the decision to market the product to THEIR customers, and for their customers this product is very useful. They had no obligation to make a product for every Android user. It would have been nice, but there was no obligation to do so.

With it, you have a pricey, odd looking remote interface that is tethered to the phone you still have to carry, that actually does the heavy lifting. It's a slave device, you still lug the master around. It forces you to carry more gear, not less. It's toy that requires you to buy a $600+ accessory to make it effective. Talk about batteries not included!

Unlike 95% of the comments of people on this thread I actually purchased a Mocha Grey model of the Galaxy Gear on Oct. 5.

I wear it everyday, and use all of the features described.

Can the same be said of you?

He was responding to the comment you commented on with that ridiculously long response of yours... he wasn't commenting against you, he was agreeing with you. Relax buddy, we get you like the overpriced gimmick of an accessory. And congratulations on being Samsung's target customer... a moron with too much money to spend on shit you don't need, that does the same shit as something you already own. Brilliant.

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Well done being an ignorant moron that somehow takes personal offense when some disagrees with you especially since that person actually has used the device in question. Brilliant.

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I am pretty sure we get the concept, we just do not agree it is what we want. Opinions differ. :)

I wear a watch. Can't say that I "use" a watch. It has a stopwatch, alarm, international time, works in the dark, and...oh yeah, has the current time. But, I "use" my phone for all of these functions. I still wear my watch, mostly because it looks kinda sophisticated, it's good looking, was a gift from my wife and the officers of my employer consider me a peer, more so than people without timepiece or that wear plastic fashion watches. I'm glad I have it. A few times a week, whipping out my cutting edge phone might look rude or juvenile, but gently tilting my wrist and politely announcing I'm late for a meeting...gets a nod rather than a sneer.

I can't wait to try the Sony smartwatch 2. That watch looks promising. And at $200 or even $170 on one site it's definitely more affordable.

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Absolutely, Smartwatch 2 is a step in the right direction, Galaxy Gear restricted to 1 device with shallow limitations isn't.

I have the Sony Smartwatch 2 and I love it. The notifications are where it really shines. Works flawlessly with my HTC One.

After reading this, I feel like I should have ordered a Smartwatch 2 instead of my Pebble... I love my Pebble, but I feel like the Smartwatch 2 would have been a better option for $50 more...

The whole smartwatch thing is a concern for me. Mostly because inevitably every watch I've had ends up scratched to heck after a few years or few bad days even... Which is tolerable on a standard watch face. Buy would be a different experience on a rich digital display showing text, notifications, camera screen, etc...

What's the glass on these? Gorilla? Hope so!

Plus the camera lens cover? Gorilla?

Being a device in your pocket or glasses on your face avoid a lot of impacts because they aren't connected to our flailing arms and hands...

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Uh, scratches? Sapphire glass are common on many watches and are 100% scratch resistant- mineral glass isn't bad either but isn't as durable as sapphire. I still have a couple watches I've had for 20+ years with 0 scratches even on the bracelet/band, meanwhile my new Luminox has a small ding on the bracelet when I bought it and I got a discount for that because it wasn't my fault.

I haven't read full details on the watch. Or perhaps I glazed over the glass being used. Sorry about that

Along that same vein. How rugged is the circuitry? Will get banged around a lot more than a phone.

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This looks pretty awful, those notifications are comically useless. Good job Samsung, sometimes it's just not worth it to be "first."*

*I say first as they are the first major company to release a high profile watch like this. They obviously aren't the first to market with a smartwatch.

Very gimmicky. At the 300 dollar price point ill get me a nice watch. Might be worth 150 to play with and that's maybe.

I'd say it's overpriced by about $100. Drop the price and remove the restriction of only working with the Note 3 and this thing instantly gains more appeal.

So the main thing you have against it is the price and compatiblelity you really don't know whether your coming or going do you and your supposed to be advising others

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No I said changing those two things makes it gain more appeal. There are still tons of fixes and changes that need to be made to turn this into a device with widespread uptake.

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This was a good idea that was not well thought out at all. For one thing you should have thought about the most likely customers that would have bought this (Females). Why? Because they are the ones that have the phones not in their pockets, but in their purses, so they would benefit the most with having this Gear device. Problem, looks NOTHING like something a fashionable lady would wear in public. So your good idea is immediately a bad one. Many women want to tote the Note 3 and it's features. But they are more likely to inconveniently pull the monster from their purse when it rings rather than strap a Flatscreen tv to their wrist and muster up the strength to put it towards their face.

ASK more of the common man/woman before you make stuff. (Voice of Customer)

That is your review? How much research did you do to determine the customer base?

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Why do I feel most negative comments come from people who have never used one,don't want to use one and are just repeating what they have read I find that annoying

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This exactly the point I'm trying to make.

Most people who claim they have no interest in the Gear are on here complaining about a product they have not purchased.

I don't have to purchase a Humvee to know I don't want, need, or like them.

I don't have to purchase a house to know it's not for me.

I don't have to visit a country to know I don't want to go there.

But you would also be utterly irresponsible to comment on the value of each of those items you mentioned unless you took the time to experience it for yourself.

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Because that's exactly where most negative comments come from. Especially when it's about Samsung just because they're the king of the Android world right now. If it was LG, or HTC people would ignorantly hate on them instead cause people think their opinion still matters regardless.

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If they want this to become the future, should have made it compatible with almost all android devices, and it should be given away with all new Samsung devices. Not a $300 option! Concerned about the waterproof part as well.

The pictures capured by the Galaxy Gear arent horrible, but my problem with the Gear is that it suffers identity crisis. Is it trying to work alongside your phone or is it trying to replace your phone by trying to do everything your phone is capable of only much worse?

The feature dense watch is bulky and unsophisticated, it is a watch For Peet's sake! the watch is the central focus of the hands/wrist and as such its an integral fashion accessory, the main focus of this watch needs to be making it actually LOOK GOOD. Then giving it at least a week battery life, the focus then needs to be what features do people actually need in a watch, I dont want apps like EverNote on such a small screen. What I'd like is notifications that would come on my phone, Calls, WhatsApp messages, Emails, the ability to dismiss calls/notification, control my music better functionality paired with my phone.

But I commend them for actually trying to execute this, it's a bold project but back to the drawing board Samsung.

I have not seen this posted anywhere, but do any of the clock apps allow for a second hand or able to view seconds on the clock?

It's interesting how most of those making comments are people who do not actually own the device. Many of you are just repeating what you heard or read somewhere which is why even "professional" reviewers should be required to buy the product, with their own money, before being allowed to make an assessment.

The comments are not based on a personal review, they are generally based on what we want. I for one think that is important.

You probably didn't like it before you even picked it up.

Andrew:: I'm sure you have a very interesting job, and you have a lot of phones and tech to sift through. But I believe the least a reviewer could do would be to speak with and ask the people who actually own the product what they think?

If for no other reason to ensure that your comments are consistent with the experience of the vast majority of end users.

But our job in this setting as a reviewer of new devices isn't to talk to general consumers and create an aggregate review of everyone's experiences, it's to give our view on a product because people trust our opinions. (And at this point in this product's lifecycle, no one actually owns the Gear in any real numbers to make that possible even if we wanted to.)

Just because I (or anyone else reviewing a product) don't agree with you doesn't mean that my strategy for reviewing a product is wrong. And really no, I didn't have a view on the product before I got it in to review (and I actually still haven't read another review of the Gear from anyone else), that's just unprofessional. I came into the review as a person who wears an analog watch as jewelry every single day, that's my only preconceived notion of what a watch should be.

When i read through the comments here and see off-the-cuff statements from others who have used it, it seems as though the end conclusion I came to in my review really does match up with the "vast majority of end users." The watch isn't fully baked, not even close, so I really don't think I'm far off the mark in my assessment of the Gear.

Andrew I have read a lot of reviews lately and I can tell you anybody that trust a review is very nieve, a very large number of reviews are very very biased

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Andrew, I hear what you're saying. You make a valid point, and I do understand that people trust your reviews and make spending decision based on them.

However, I disagree with your statement when you write "When i read through the comments here and see off-the-cuff statements from others who have used it, it seems as though the end conclusion I came to in my review really does match up with the "vast majority of end users." This statement is not accurate. Most of the comments in this thread are from people who have NOT purchased the device, who claim to have no interest in it, but who want to jump on the bandwagon of criticism I guess because it's Samsung.

Android Central (AC) has a forum for wearable tech. One of those forums is for the Galaxy Gear. These are the folks who actually have purchased and are using the device. Please read the forum. You will find that the vast majority of end users do not agree with your assessment, and find the device a very valuable product and companion to their Note 3.

I am no Samsung rep, and I'm not defending them. They are highly capable of justifying their own product line. What frustrate me to no end is the utter irresponsible nature of commenting on the value of something without experiencing it first hand.

Many people, and tech sites like AC, laughed in 2011 at Samsung when they first introduced the galaxy Note. Today Samsung is on version 3, and that device could arguably be said to have surpassed the Galaxy S product as their flagship.

I'm just saying just because it's not what you personally want it to be, does not mean the device is not valuable product to the people who took their hard earned cash and purchased one.

Very true. I have been reading through tons of reviews for this device and find that most people who own one are satisfied with it. Only those who haven't or who have had it for a short time aren't. I think the biggest reason is due to the incompatibility with other smartphones so many do not want to admit that it may be a useful device since they literally cannot use one(with full functionality) without purchasing a new phone at this time. I have had my Gear for a few days and love it

I have been reading all over and found that most people who returned their Gear hated it. Going by your logic, that's a valid assessment.

You're forgetting that reviewers are all using the only phone that is compatible, which they did not pay for.

I have had a Gear since the day they were publicly available, and given it every chance because I want to be biased and love it. But I don't. Even after making every concession required, like carrying a phone I would never want to carry, using applications I would never want to use, and forgoing the phone number I've used for texts for the past 7 years (which is now my GV number), I still find it lacking compared to much cheaper alternatives. It makes me sad, because I want to be a fan of the Gear. I want to love it. I'm going to force myself to use it. But the other two smart watches I have here are just better devices.

The saving grace of the Gear is the lovely quality. It should outlast at least 10 Note 3 phones. 

I would argue differently Jerry. Most individuals who have decided to return the Galaxy gear have done so primarily because of the price point. Very few returned the device because they "hated it."

The Galaxy gear offers convenience to those who use the Galaxy Note 3. I believe that is all that Samsung was trying to accomplish with this device. Reviewers and commenter's seem to have wanted something else from Samsung, and because the device did not fit the mold of what they thought Samsung was going to do they appear to be upset and thus not review it or comment on it based on its intended use by the manufacturer.

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Isn't the price reason enough?

You love yours. That's great. No one is denying you that right. However, you're not going to convince everyone to see it the way you do.

You talk a lot about what you're sure "so called" reviewers think, here and in the forums. 

I can tell you what we think. We think this:

is crap.

You can feel free to think it isn't. Do you really want other people to lie and say they think that is acceptable? 

 

Why is this so personal for you.. Relax man. You like your Gear... good for you. And still nobody cares.

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Note 3 only. All other Samsung devices, including S4, are excluded until 4.3 gets released... So lets spend$300 and leave it in the box...

You tell em Das they don't have a clue and are clueless. The watch is a good companion to the phone. I don't have to pull out my phone every time to check emails or answer a call. Again straight haters that don't have it but want it.

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Ask those people who own the Gear on how they like the Sony Smartwatch which is cheaper and has more functions and features and a wider range of supported devices.

Probably. People tend to defend and justify their purchases to the extreme. It's their way of convincing themselves that they didn't get ripped off, thereby denying that someone got one over on them ie made them look stupid. The more people spend, the more vehemently they defend it.

It's called post-purchase rationalization. And yes, it's actually a thing.

The fact that yours was a free review unit kept you objective.

Interesting. I'm glad I wasn't compelled to fork over $300 for a glorified LED for my wrist.

Instead, I bought the new Sony SW2. It has both notification alerts AND will display the messages.

In addition you can control the music player, disconnect a phone call, view text, Gmail, twitter and Facebook messages and posts. Also the battery is rated for 3 to 4 days versus 23 hours on the Samsung watch. It also has a user-replaceable 24mm watch band, so take your pick. Besides, a wrist watch cam/video recorder seems creepy to me; just sayin.

There's tons of other features to the Sony SW2 I'm it figuring out. But for $199 (the most I've ever paid for a watch EVER)on Amazon, it certainly proving to be a useful tool to interact with my GN3.

I wanted the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch, but they priced it too high for me. After watching this review it sounds like Galaxy Gear is more hype than its worth.

Phil, why haven't you guys given the Sony SW2 a full fledged review? It's relatively impressive compared to the much of the competition.

Regards,

I own a gear. I find it quite useful. The watch is water resistant. So if you are caught in the rain you'll be fine. Just can't go swimming with it. I generally take off a watch when swimming.
When I bought the watch I thought battery life was going to be an issue. But I was wrong. Since I use an alarm clock next to my bed I don't need to wear it to sleep. So it charges overnight. I don't recall ever getting the power less than 50%. It also seems to charge pretty quick. So if you must wear it all day including in your sleep. Just set it on the charger when you shower.
My picture are set to automatically transfer to my phone and from there to whatever services I want my photos auto loaded to. Sharing from the watch would require a keyboard on the watch. That leaves T9 input as the only practical option. The watch also supports s-voice .
There are are also certain shortcuts to features requiring 2 finger input (double tap for battery life, volume and brightness; long press for recent apps)

I only have 3 issues with the gear. The screen is easily scratched. Needs a screen protector if any exist yet.
It only records 15 seconds of video. Would be nice if it recorded longer for more clandestine recording. Hopefully they'll change that.
And the other issue is not really a gear issue but a talkback issue. Many third party apps require turning the accessory system on. This unfortunately causes talkback to think it's on. It's off in the systems setting but it is somehow on in the background. Not sure if that's a android issue or developer issue. But it hinders me using third party apps for notifications.

For me I find it useful. Ymmv. It works better than advertised which makes me happy. I haven't used it for phone calls cut I've got an ear piece. So I can't say how well it works. Is it overpriced. I think it's comparably priced. Sure 300 bucks is lot for a watch. But I guess it's more than a watch. I remember dropping 50 bucks for a casino databank back in the 80s. That was a lot of money back then. This watch does a lot more than that watch did.

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I agree 100%. I bought the gear two weeks ago and have not regretted it. It works as advertised and beyond. I find that I don't reach for my phone as often and reply to most my texts via svoice on the gear thus saving my phones battery. I also find the gear holds a charge well, starting at 930 am until about midnight I still have between 60-75% of juice. I have read lots of reviews and they are mostly negative, but I came to the conclusion that all those reviews as based on the reviewers own personally opinions instead of cold hard facts. I used to regard reviews highly until recently. I now take them with a grain of salt as they are not accurately portraying the end user.

+2 Love my Gear. Lots of potential and I was actually impressed with the build quality and functionality. I'm actually seeing a huge majority of positive reviews from people who own them and only negative reviews from those who don't or who haven't spent much time with it. I suggest people that are interested purchase one and return or sell it if they aren't satisfied. I have no regrets.

Make sure you have Note 3 .... will not work with any other Samsung device ... basically an expensive paperweight. Can't believe Samsung would release with such limited usability .... I guess it was their cheap shot at Apple to beat them out of the gate....

Even if they only release it for s3,s4,note2,note3 then that's a quite huge market share. And also those are the once that would or could buy it. A person with just a low mid end phone that cost 100 to 200 will very likely not buy a 300 dollar costing watch.

Besides that I think the problem is more Bluetooth support in android also the s4 first need to update to 4.3. So who knows it's later on supported any phone.

The only thing is can an app grab really the full notification of another app? I guess for the os it self it shouldn't be to much of a problem to get to a better notification for any app. But if it also should work on the nexus 5 is there then even a way to get the right full notification ?

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The GG handles full email notification as well. But because it is targeted to the Samsung user base it requires the user to use the Samsung email and messaging app.

I receive full notification of my emails on the Gear. I have three Gmail email accounts and it was very easy to set them up using the native email app. For my Calendar, Keep, Google Drive, Chrome and other Google services I have them set up and synced through Google, only email is unchecked.

It's not rocket science and requires no extra effort.

Andrew you know this to be a fact, but you and other reviewers don't present it that way. For whatever reason you and many others leave your readers with the utterly false impression that if they purchased the Gear they would not be able to read their email.

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I wouldn't be able to read it, because I find using an imap client for Gmail just horrible (the imap is horrible anyway as a protocol)

Does the Samsung mail app already support imap idle? Or is push out of the question?

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The Samsung native email app does support push notifications. When setting up the email the user only needs to indicate this preference.

But this is what bugs me about many reviewers and many of those making comments who are not taking the time to learn what the device can and cannot do. Many have already formulated in their mind the "limitations" of the device, and thus cut themselves off from discovering its value.

I don't make any money from Samsung. In fact, because I wear the Galaxy gear on a daily basis I can no longer make use of my Galaxy Nexus, HTC One, LG Optimus Pro, or iPhone 5. I would often switch out devices so that I can have some variety, and also speak intelligently when someone asked my opinion about a cetain device or operating system.

But since I started using the Galaxy gear on Oct. 5 I've been limited to the use of my Galaxy Note 3. But the value that it offers me when used in conjunction with the GN3 is worth me not carrying the others. If it doesn't work for some that's fine, my point is just don't knock it unless you truly tried it.

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Allow me to quote myself:

The Gear has a large, readable and pixel-dense display, but its software can only handle rich notifications from Samsung's first-party apps. If you live in the stock email, messaging and ChatON apps then you'll receive informational notifications on your Gear showing the sender name and preview of a message.

I'm completely aware of the fact that the Galaxy Gear can handle full, rich notifications from Samsung's first-party apps. But here's the deal, I don't use their apps. I use Gmail because I want a consistent experience across all of my Android devices (which aren't all from Samsung) and I happen to think that the first-party Gmail app is the best email experience for me. I also use Hangouts, not ChatON. I use Skype. I use Google Voice.

The Galaxy Gear doesn't give rich notifications for any of these apps, and to make the assumption that I should be okay with switching to what I feel are inferior apps just to use a smartwatch is asinine.

As I said, the Pebble and Sony Smartwatch handle notifications and give rich information from any email app, including Gmail, and that means it is better for me (and a drastically higher number of people than the Gear).

I skimmed the review, more out of curiosity then out of "OMG I need a smart watch!"

My thoughts?

- don't need, wouldn't last a day in my line of work anyway (Construction worker)

- even if I got it for weekends/after work, I still can't think of a reason to get one. I can barely justify the need for a smartphone -- but I love having one.

- probably would wait for the concepts to mature somewhat in any case. It seems pretty sweet as is, but look at the jump from the OG Note to the Note 3.

- I got skinny wrists. The discomfort alone of wearing a larger (and probably somewhat heavy) watch on my wrist would probably minimize my use

- specs: 512 RAM, 4gig storage. Sounds like top-end specs from when I first started hearing about Android and reading about it. Now we got that stuffed into a watch a few years later? Damn... I love technology, but sometimes I hate how friggin FAST it moves along!

- Not hating on the watch, trust me. All in all, I'm sure there are TONS of people who will get a lot of use out of it, and fits a need/usage pattern they're looking for. Just for MY needs/usage I can think of more reasons NOT to get one then I can TO get one. Of course, YMMV.

Great writeup.

Just pick mine up yesterday. I must say that this watch is quite amazing does everything I need it to do so glad I decided on it. Yes the price is a little steep, but hey you only live once.

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I will do some research on the Sony Smart watch 2. As a 2nd gen device it may impress me in its usefulness in ways the 2 Galaxy Gears I auditioned did not.

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I had the SONY Smartwatch 2 for more than a week, wearing it daily, paired with my Z1. It worked as advertised, more or less. Never had any major problems with it. Battery life was good(i turned it off @ night) so i got almost 7 days out of one charge. I disliked the sound produced by the vibration motor (squeezing like), the icons on screen are kinda pixelated, the few watch faces included are not really nice. Sure, for sure, more will come in the future. The most thing i disliked was the quadratic design.
Finally i decided to return it in favor of the GALAXY Gear as i still have my almost one year old Note 2.
Friday i received my Gear, charged it fully up and paired it with my Note 2. Most of the functions are working as advertised, so no differences here between Gear and SW2.
The Gear looks way more classy and elegant than the SW2, screen is way more nicer and with it´s higher resolution all looks more fine. Build quality is also better.
Making calls or receiving calls via Gear opens a whole new dimension in my daily life (supposed the Note 2 is in range). The standard Apps like Pedometer, SVoice, Timer or Stop Watch are also nice to have, all other Apps yet to discover. And i am more than sure, many Apps will come in the next time, even those that will not redirect you, like right now, to the phone.
The build in camera, opposite to my own expectations, produces quite nice pictures in good light. So the cam may be the eye that´s always with you.
Samsung build the speaker into the clasp, well, imho not quite the best position as same with the camera, you can´t change the wristband. The output sound from the tiny speaker is ok.
Battery life seems to be also good, i admit, not so good as with the SW2, but way more than advertised. In this moment it has 74% since my first charge on last Friday.
Finally, we shall not forget what SAMSUNG build into the Gear: a whole Android system with an dual core CPU, 4GB Ram and many more whistles and bells. As already known, we can load up real Apps from the PlayStore, some more or less useful on the small screen.
In the next days i will see if my choice for the Gear over the SW2 was a good one or not. At moment i am more happily with it, although i miss the higher weight and the metal wristband of the SW2.

There is nothing wrong with smartwatches in general and in terms of design the gear is spot on, that said i see no purpose of an intgrated camera, just take your phone out for that lazy gits lol so in order for this sector to work simplicity is they key, the option to answer calls yup that works but may need refined just going by mixed reviews, a more refined voice control, like being able to send quick replies to emails, facebook, twitter ect in my mind keeping the features simple yet very functional is going to be the key to success here.

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I have this watch and absolutely LOVE it. I used it every single day. I made my own custom "girly" watch face. Its a lot of fun, and has a lot of features.

As a competitive cyclist, the ability to check if a text or call is important while I'm training on a hard climb is one of the main reasons I want a smart watch. I use Handcent for text messages, and I'm wondering if the Gear will show me my texts if I use that app, or just alert me that I have one? Thanks.

I saw the picture from the samples...of the donut.

......now I want a donut >_<

I think "free" with the purchase of a new Samsung Galaxy phone would help them dominate the market. At least temporarily until everyone else copies suit. Nothing companies do better than copying each other at everything.

I read the review here at http://pocinc.net/blog/uncategorized/review-samsung-galaxy-gear-smartwatch/ and they did well at pointing out that instead of viewing it a just not worth it, you could instead think of it as a product that is simply blooming...not worth it now but it has the ability of becoming useful and wantable through future firmware updates (as long as Samsung keeps up support and improves on it.

One of the reviews at ZD pointed out the same thing in their own way. They also had one that tore it apart though so I found that to be kind of contradicting on their part.

It seems most of the magazines I get don't favor it as well.

I don't know....I kind of like the idea of giving it hope. I personally would love a Dick Tracy watch wrapped around my wrist. I think it could happen so I'll say "give it some time" :)

I don't get the point in a smart watch.
I mean who doesn't have enough time to open the home screen to see your notifications.
And plus these watches don't even look good.

There will come a time when these have enoughof their own functions to hold their own. But until then.......

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