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Samsung Gear Fit is geared for exercise but uncomfortable and pricey

An uncomfortable design, a steep price and a lack of features make Samsung's Gear Fit a device users should avoid.

Along with two new smartwatches, the Gear Fit is one of three wearable gadgets Samsung began selling this month. The device is designed for owners to keep track of their health and fitness while also being able to check for any notifications they receive on their Samsung smartphones.

At $199, the Gear Fit is one of the priciest fitness wearable devices. For the price, the Gear Fit, unlike its rivals, comes with a heart rate sensor -- the key feature to the device.

VIDEO: Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Gear Fit

The sensor, a tiny LED light located on the underside of the device, allows users to quickly check their heart rate while they're in the middle of a workout.

The Gear Fit also includes a few other features that make it ideal for exercise. It comes with a pedometer, allowing it to track how far users walk, a timer, a stopwatch and an exercise history log, which shows users stastitics from their previous workouts. Users can also wear the device to track how long they sleep and how active their body is at night.

Besides monitoring health and fitness, the Gear Fit connects with users' smartphones and relays notifications it receives, ranging from emails and text messages to "Likes" and comments on Facebook, Instagram and other social networks.

The Gear Fit can connect with a number of Samsung devices, going back to 2012's Galaxy SIII.

The ability to connect with a users' Samsung smartphone via Bluetooth also makes the Gear Fit useful in case the smartphone gets lost. Users can activate a "Find My Device" feature on the Gear Fit that will cause their smartphone to sound an alert if it is still within Bluetooth range.

Gear Fit users can also control music playing on their smartphones, either pausing a song, skipping to the next one or going back to the previous tune.

In terms of battery life, the Gear Fit performed well. One full charge keeps the gadget going for two to three days. The device also performed admirably when it came to durability, thanks to its dust- and water-resistant case. That means runners don't have to worry about their sweat damaging the device. However, Samsung does not recommend that users shower with the Gear Fit as they can with other fitness trackers.

It may be a good for fitness but it's not a comfortable device to use.

Samsung gave the Gear Fit a sleek design that includes a wide 1.84-inch touchscreen. The screen curves to fit around the user's wrist, giving it an attractive look. But it can be downright painful to read what's actually on the screen.

VIDEO: Protecting against Heartbleed

I had to contort my arm to read notifications and navigate the device. I also had to twist the Gear Fit around my wrist so that the screen would rest just below my palm, which is not how the device was meant to be used. Users can rotate the screen so that everything is presented vertically instead of horizontally, but the narrow screen makes that mode very hard to read too.

There is a reason watch faces are shaped like squares and circles and the Gear Fit reminds us why.

The other problem with the Gear Fit is that it simply doesn't do enough to justify its price.

The Gear Fit costs the same as the Gear 2 Neo, one of the smartwatches Samsung released this month that also come with heart rate sensors. But unlike the Gear Fit, the Gear 2 Neo is capable of running apps as well as playing music locally -- meaning users can go for a run wearing the smartwatch, leave their smartphone behind, and still have songs to listen to if they have Bluetooth headphones.

Customers who are simply looking for a device that will track their steps can buy the Fitbit Flex or the Jawbone Up, both of which retail for $99.

Or for those who are in the market for a new smartphone, the new Samsung Galaxy S5 is normally available for $199.99 on a two-year contract and it comes with pedometer and heart rate sensor built in -- eliminating any need for the Gear Fit. 

I had fun playing with the Gear Fit, but I wouldn't recommend buying the gadget.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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