PC World NZ's Harley Ogier gets some wrist-on time with the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch
PC World NZ's Harley Ogier gets some wrist-on time with the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch at a preview session in Auckland. Might this little device give wrist-mounted wearables the push into mainstream tech they've been waiting for?
As demonstrated during Samsung's initial announcement, the Gear's microphone is located in a small metal box on the inside of the wrist. This places it close to your mouth if you bring your hand up to your face in what we like to call "Secret Service-style". Or maybe "SIS-style", in New Zealand parlance.
The default graphical style uses a lot of white-on-black. Though the Gear features a full-colour AMOLED display, it doesn't make unnecessary and distracting use of that capability in its core screens and menus.
Apps are full-screen affairs, started with a tap and dismissed with a swipe. The 320 x 320-pixel display appears sharp when viewed from a normal 'wristwatch' distance.
The apps menu is a series of 2 x 2 icon grids, utilising plain white-on-black. Swiping left or right moves between pages of apps. Managment, such as adding or deleting apps, is done through the paired Samsung Galaxy smartphone.
A single swipe brings up the camera, which captures stills or video to the Galaxy Gear's internal memory. Media is synchronised to a folder in the paired smartphone's gallery.
A single tap in the camera app focuses and shoots. It feels natural to aim, given its position on the outside of the wristband.
The Galaxy Gear connects to a Galaxy Note or Galaxy S4 smartphone via Bluetooth 4.0. It's an always-connected arrangement, which is factored into Samsung's 25-hour battery life claim.
The Galaxy Gear has a low profile, similar to a 'normal' analogue or digital mens' watch. It feels light on the wrist, and very comfortable to wear. It's compatible with left- or right-handed wear.
The wristband is an integral part of the watch, as it contains the microphone and camera. It cannot be exchanged for alternative bands, but the watch is available in a variety of colours.
A rubberised strap makes a nice contrast to the metallic body, and feels very rugged. This is good, as it contains the wiring for the mic and camera. It doesn't feel likely to break after a long period of use, and contains none of the small plastic fixtures that often go first on a watch strap.
The strap has a limited length and the lever-closure used means that users with larger wrists may be disappointed. I have exceptionally thin wrists for an adult man, and still had to have the band open about 50% of the way. Those with very thin wrists, on the other hand, are well catered for.
The rear of the microphone panel looks very solid, sealed with four tiny screws. It's kept away from your wrist by the rubber band folded beneath.
Once you've set the desired strap length, the clasp holds in place -- you don't need to find the right set of holes each time you put the watch on.
Note the charging contacts on the rear of the watch body. They're completely flush with the case, so won't scratch your wrist, nor do they appear likely to pick up too much dirt.
The charger is a small cradle with the same faux-leather plastic finish as the Galaxy Note 3's backplate.
The watch fits into its cradle, which clamps shut around it and leaves the screen visible.
The charging cradle accepts a standard micro-USB cable, meaning it can share a charger with your phone, or most any other portable tech device these days.
In its cradle, the Galaxy Gear's screen tilts sideways, turning it into a nice little bedside or desktop clock. Or, as shown here, weather station.
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