updated 03:52 pm EDT, Wed September 4, 2013
New watch put to the test
Following Samsung's IFA event and a simultaneous promotion in New York City at Times Square, the company allowed press to get up close and personal with the new Galaxy Gear smartwatch. Marketed as a companion device for Galaxy-series smartphones and tablets, the wearable accessory serves as a notification center and a standalone mobile platform. We spent some time wearing and using the watch to gauge its usefulness against the marketing fluff.
Naturally any mobile electronic device must strike a balance between features and overall size, and we were left thinking "this is one huge watch" as soon as we picked up the Gear. A large screen is certainly a welcome feature, and the case isn't as thin as we expected it might be, but the band appears to be molded for a larger wrist size. People with smaller wrists may find the fit to be awkward; the band is rubber but fairly thick and stiff.
Aside from the fit, we like the metal case-top and overall appearance. The glass protecting the AMOLED panel is slightly curved, but the panel itself is much flatter than what was pictured in early leaks of the concept build.
Like other Galaxy Android devices, the watch comes packed with an abundance of software features. Some are designed to work in conjunction with phones and tablets, while others are geared for standalone use. We can appreciate the notification features for quick previews of incoming content without requiring users to unsheathe their larger device, but some of the standalone apps are difficult to use on the small display.
The rise of the smartphone was driven by a huge leap in convenience, putting a computer in your pocket. Putting a similar computer on your wrist, when there is already a smartphone in your pocket, is clearly not as much of a jump. With a thinner build and a larger edge-to-edge display, such a device might come closer to establishing itself as a device you can't live without. In the meantime, the Gear is still a great accessory that is well suited to a few tasks.
Arguably the biggest downside to the Galaxy Gear is its $300 price tag--and, of course, the rumors of an Apple iWatch.
Note regarding images: The photos below show an additional grey shroud on the bottom of the case, held in place by two metal brackets that wrap around the band. This is not part of the actual watch; the pieces are part of a security tether attached to the display models.