Review roundup: Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch not worth buying yet

Reviews for the Galaxy Gear are in and they aren’t good for Samsung’s smartwatch.

The Galaxy Gear is a watch capable of connecting with other Samsung devices to display notifications, make phone calls and run apps. The device also has a pedometer and a camera for taking pictures and video. It goes on sale this week, starting Wednesday from T-Mobile, for $299.99.

The Samsung smartwatch isn’t the first of its kind, but it is one of the pioneers in the wearable technology market. For now, though, consumers may want to wait for the second generation of the wrist gadget.

PHOTOS: 10 things you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Gear


Wired’s Christina Bonnington said the smartwatch and its technology were clearly still in their infancy.

“Galaxy Gear just isn’t something most folks need. It’s not even something I wanted to keep on my wrist all day,” she wrote. “For the most part, the end result is too clunky and awkward for true appeal beyond being a brief conversation piece on your wrist. For now, the Gear remains $300 smartphone accessory.”

So what’s wrong with the device? For starters, it has to be connected to another Samsung device to work, and for now it is limited to just the Galaxy Note 3 smartphone, which also comes out later this week.

Besides that, the Galaxy Gear is also limited as to what types of notifications it can display. For now, users will only be able to see incoming calls or text messages.

“Social networks, messaging services -- like WhatsApp and Google Hangsouts -- and, most importantly, emails won’t give you any notifications at all,” said CNET’s Andrew Hoyle.

Another issue is the device’s design. The Verge’s Vlad Savov said Samsung tried to put something for everyone in the design of the Galaxy Gear and the result is that it pleases no one. At least it’s water resistant and impervious to scratches.

“You might think of it as a tank for your wrist — it’s bulky, durable, and awkward enough to merit that title,” Savov wrote.

The battery life may also be a concern for some. A couple of the reviewers said they were able to get about one day’s use from the device while others said they only got a handful of hours. As USA Today’s Edward C. Baig puts it, you’ll want to keep your charger with you if you buy the Galaxy Gear.


But there were some things to like about the Gear.

The Verge’s Savov said he was very impressed by the smartwatch’s camera, which can take square pictures and 15-second-long 720p HD videos.

“The Gear’s camera produces images of surprising fidelity and does it swiftly and reliably,” Savov wrote. “The whole point -- if there is any point -- to a camera in your watch is to make picture-taking effortless, and Samsung has succeeded at that task brilliantly.”

The Washington Post‘s Hayley Tsukayama liked how responsive the Galaxy Gear was to voice commands. Critics were also pleased with the audio quality from calls made through the device.


“That’s a necessity for the watch because the Gear’s screen real estate simply doesn’t allow for an on-screen keyboard,” Tsukayam wrote. “Even the dialer on the watch, for outgoing calls, can be difficult to hit with accuracy. In most cases, users are better off using their voices, even for dialing.”

The single positive review we could find of the Galaxy Gear came from ZDNet’s Matthew Miller, who came away so impressed with the smartwatch that he said he ordered one for himself.

Miller called the device a great step forward for wearable technology, but even he recognized that the Galaxy Gear isn’t for everyone.

“Smartphone and gadget freaks like me will likely appreciate the Galaxy Gear, but I don’t think it will appeal broadly to all consumers,” Miller wrote.



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