Samsung Galaxy Gear

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“Smart” Accessorizing with the Samsung Galaxy Gear
By Lance Maxwell

Over the past few years, Samsung has seemingly been at the forefront of the “smart” electronics revolution. From the introduction of the S-series of “smart” phones, to “smart” televisions, to a “smart” camera – the Galaxy Camera – Samsung has helped pioneer the term. And so with that, we now have the latest Samsung “smart” innovation, the Galaxy Gear smartwatch.

The first thing you say to yourself when you slip the Galaxy Gear on is “Yup, this is what it has come to. I really am wearing a computer on my wrist.” Of course, it feels less computer but rather more mini-TV and it definitely draws the attention of those who catch a glimpse of it for the first time. The feel of the watch can best be described as comfortable, light, and well built, as the components used do not make it cumbersome in any fashion. The band is crafted of a textured rubber and the HD display is housed in metal.

But what exactly does it do?

For starters, as of the day this article was written, the Galaxy Gear is only compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 smartphones. Rumors have it Samsung will soon be expanding compatibility to include a slew of other Galaxy devices (such as the Galaxy S3) but this has yet to materialize. No complaining here, however, as Verizon Wireless provided a Note 3 alongside the Gear for testing. The Gear utilizes Bluetooth to connect directly to your S4 or Note 3 and your Gmail account for contact and app integration.

In terms of functionality, there are a bevy of key features that might interest those looking for a device saving them from having to reach every five minutes into their pockets for a bulky smartphone.

The Gear’s phone integration allows the user to place or receive calls from the watch itself. For incoming calls, simply swipe across the watch’s display to answer the call. The speaker located at the bottom of the band provides ample volume to hear those on the other end and an integrated microphone means you can pull a page right out of Star Trek and talk directly into the watch. There are two options to place a call – either selecting from contacts or using the dialer.

In addition to making and taking calls, the Gear provides SMS functionality and also Email integration. Incoming messages fit nicely onto the small display, again making it much more convenient to read these immediately.

Along the band of the Gear a 1.9MP camera can also be found. An interesting feature no doubt, the “Memographer” as Samsung has labeled it, is designed for quick and easy capturing of images and video users might otherwise miss during the time necessary to locate their phones. Quality of photos is satisfactory, especially considering the form factor, and video can be shot in 15-second bursts – certainly great for those who frequently use Vine and Instagram. Photos taken with the Gear can be viewed with the included Gallery app and instantly sync with the tethered smartphone.

Although the list of applications specifically built for the Gear is currently a short one, it is continually growing. Fitness fanatics have been especially targeted, as those who like to track their workouts will find apps like RunKeeper and Runtastic Pro having direct compatibility. Social media gurus will enjoy the Facebook and Twitter Quickview apps that sync with user accounts and provide real-time notifications for things like Facebook chat messages and Twitter mentions – although both were found to be a bit buggy during testing.

Weather is prominently displayed, as the current temperature at the user’s location has a permanent location on the Gear’s home screen, and a tap on this screen leads to the 5-day forecast.

As with Windows 8 smartphones, the success of this device will heavily depend on the number of apps developed specifically for it. Fortunately, Samsung has promised more are on the way.

With that being said, the Galaxy Gear is another in the long line of Samsung “Smart” gadgets introduced to the market determined to carve out a new niche in electronic convenience. While it certainly feels a bit “green” in terms of development, with rumored updates and promised refinements there will be no surprise in seeing the Gear become a normal fixture on the wrists of tech enthusiasts.

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