Samsung Galaxy Gear Review

Introduction

The Samsung Galaxy Gear, an intriguing bit of kit and perhaps one of the smartest wearables out there. With competition hotting up and wearables fighting to become relevant in the market place how does the Gear hold up?

Look and Feel

To start with, its a lovely looking device. Its sleek and elegant with a gorgeous premium feel to it. The screen is a good size and the metal surround looks fantastic.

The strap isn’t to my taste, an off rubberised texture that has started to irritate my wrist after a few days of use. I wish Samsung had opted for a metal finish for their strap as the current one really takes away from the premium look.

While we are on the subject of strap the clasp on the bottom is pretty large. This houses the speaker for the Gear and due to it being beneath your wrist it really gets in the way. I constantly found myself getting caught against desk edges or on keyboards and the clasp makes the Gear extremely uncomfortable for everyday use.

Another issue I found with the design is the camera location. I would have much preferred a front facing camera for video calls, instead we have a very large and obvious camera located on the front of the wrist band. Great if you desperately need to snap a quick picture but people will throw a fair few questioning glances at your Gear when they spot your spy camera.

User Interface

Its pretty basic yet intuitive at the same time. Lift your arm up towards you and the Gear will spring to life, by far my favourite feature. Swipe to the left to show notifications or continue scrolling for other apps.

You can also set quick gestures, for example the pre set gesture, swipe down from the top of the screen and your camera will power up, swipe up and your phone dialer will pop up. These gestures are welcome when it comes to such a tiny screen.

Normally I wouldn’t touch on this subject here but I feel sound quality needs a mention. Its good, very good in fact. During a call I could hear everything clearly even when I was in a relatively noisy area. Those around me fed back that all they could hear was muffles which allowed the call to remain private. I didn’t expect this device to be any good during calls and must admit I’m pleasantly surprised.

Camera

As I mentioned already I would have preferred a front facing camera, however Samsung opted to give us a spy camera shooter. To be honest the camera is OK, its not good, its not bad. I can’t see many occasions where you would want to use it but for some it is handy.

The major issue I have with the camera is that its relatively large and adds some bulk to the device. It also stands out like a sore thumb, with many people asking why I have a camera on my watch and giving me weird disapproving looks. I can see where they’re coming from, I mean what kind of person needs a secret camera on their watch?

Battery

I’ve heard some horror stories about the Gears battery. I managed a consistent and solid two days on my Gear between charges. Its not fantastic but its better than expected.

A word of warning for potential buyers. The Gear has to be charged in its unique cradle which doesn’t make charging on the go as easy as I’ve had liked. The reason for this is to remove the need for micro USB ports on the device itself, a trade off I wish Samsung hadn’t made.

What I liked

It does a lot more than the competition currently does and saves a lot of battery on my phone. Whenever my phone buzzes I can check wherever or not its worth while looking in more detail with a quick glance at my watch.

What I disliked

It’s uncomfortable. I thought that with a little time I would get used to wearing the Gear but I’m still very conscious its there. Its just a little too bulky in the wrong places. The clasp on the bottom ruins the device completely in my opinion, sticking out and catching far too much.

Conclusion

I really want to love the Gear but I just can’t bring myself to fall for it. Its gorgeous and well built but some of the trade offs that Samsung made are far too obvious to ignore.

The lack of compatibility also causes issues, confusing many potential customers. Unless you are sporting one of the latest Samsung Galaxy phones then you are out of luck.

The Gear feels like a gimmick at the moment with a fair bit of potential. In my opinion it just isn’t yet ready for prime time and my recommendation would be to wait for the second generation of the Gear.

My Top 10 Gadgets 2013

Below is a list of my top 10 favourite gadgets that I used throughout 2013. I got to play with a whole load of different toys and enjoyed most of those. Check out my thoughts below and click the links for more details in Amazon.

1: Macbook Pro Retina 13 inch 

 

Recently I took the plunge and upgraded from my 11 inch Macbook Air and I’m very glad I did. The Macbook Pro is a stunning machine. Its fast, responsive and above all the screen is beautiful.  

I’m no Apple fan boy, far from it in fact, but I’ve got a place in my heart reserved for MacBooks. So far my pro has served me well and is a fantastic step up from my Macbook Air. I love the larger screen size and the retina display is to die for. 

The device just feels premium and is everything I could ask for. For what I need, the Macbook Pro Retina is perfect and I would recommend it above everything else. True love has been found in 2013. 

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 was my personal phone for the best part of 2013 and I loved it. I recently changed to the Sony Xperia Z1 and find that I miss the screen size and stylus from my Note. Even it’s cheaper plastic finish isn’t enough to put me off, in fact its a bonus, making the device light weight. The Note 2 is easily my favourite phone that I used in 2013. 

Sony hit a niche market with this product. The camera on my phone is one of the biggest features I use and now with the QX10 lens I don’t really need to worry about the camera quality onboard my chosen phone. The device has god battery, is small and compact and relatively easy to use even for an amateur like myself.  

The zoom is absolutely fantastic and snapping pics in low light conditions is amazing. The lens far exceeds any dedicated camera built into a smart phone that I have used so far and that includes the Nokia Lumia 1020. 

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So I felt it was time to upgrade my graphics card in 2013 and I’m glad I did. This was the first year that I played some big name single player games from start to finish and actually enjoyed them. Games like Bioshock Infinite ran like a dead dog on my previous card but after installing my GTX 680 it ran like a dream. 

Nvidias physx also added a little spice compared to my previous AMD card. Its nothing to really shout about but there were a few noticeable differences in certain games that caught my eye, the biggest being in Planet Side 2 with its oddly beautiful teleporter effects. 

2013 was the year that I returned to dedicated portable gaming hardware thanks to Pokemon’s lure. I had always used a tablet or phone for casual gaming, singing the devices praises and condemning portable gaming hardware, saying how redundant it was. It wasn’t until I returned to true hardware controls that I realised how wrong I had been. 

The 3DS is a lovely size and very comfortable to hold. Its got a great sized screen and has a pretty good catalogue of games. I’m glad I made the move back to a portable console and couldn’t be more impressed with this device. 

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I have a love hate relationship with Sony. I want to love their products but I’ve always been unlucky in the past with all my Sony branded products going faulty. So with great reluctance I gave up my note 2 and got myself an Xperia Z1. 

Am I glad I did? Kind of. The camera is hit and miss, half of the time it takes better quality photos than I’ve ever taken before, the other half it captures horrid blurs. It feels so solid and premium unlike most Android devices which is a welcome change and the waterproof feature actually works! Its beyond fast, responding like lightning and very rarely lagging. 

The downside is its huge and my device is already faulty which is a real shame. I’ve had it exchanged and the second unit was faulty so it appears my bad luck with Sony has continued. 

The Nexus 7 is my tablet of choice at the moment. Its a relatively low cost, yet powerful device. Sporting pure Android with no manufacturer interference leaves the Nexus running blazingly fast. 

Its light weight and feels great in the hand, its rubberised back and sides stopping it from sliding all over the place and making it easier to grip. The screen size is both a positive and a negative, small enough for light browsing, gaming and work but too small for anything more. 

Overall I’m impressed with the Nexus and have so far enjoyed using it on the train to work.  

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Ah the iPad mini. This would easily be my device of the year if it wasnt for a certain software update. The iPad mini feels and looks fantastic. The screen size is perfect for on the go work and gaming. Its not too big and not too small, the best tablet size I have used. The battery life was good and it ran smoothly, never skipping a beat. 

So what changed? iOS 7 landed, turning my iPad mini into a horribly slow device. My iPad was so slow it had become unbearable to use. I understand that older Apple hardware begins to run terribly slow as new software updates land but the iPad Mini was still a current device at the time of iOS 7. In my opinion this was a terrible move by Apple. 

I miss my iPad mini as it was easily the best tablet I have ever used. After the way Apple destroyed my device I don’t think I’ll be taking the plunge and updating to the latest model. 

My first Windows 8 tablet. There is huge potential from these hybrid devices but I still don’t feel like any manufacture has gotten dit right so far. I really enjoyed my time with the Ativ Smart PC Pro but it ultimately felt like a jack of all trades. As a tablet it was average and as a laptop it was average. 

The keyboard dock was plagued with disconnection issues and as tablet the device was just too big and bulky. The thing that really killed my experience was Windows 8 which offered a very jarring experience. Modern UI and desktop mode just don’t fit together at all killing any seamless experience you would expect from a device such as this. 

The concept is sound and the potential is massive but I can’t help but feel that these hybrid devices are just lacking. 

So I mentioned already that I have a love hate relationship with Sony and the same applies with the Xperia Tablet Z. I loved the feel of it. Its so slim, with a beautiful screen and gorgeous matte finish. Its probably the nicest looking Android tablet out there. 

However its incredibly slow. Almost everything I did on the device was laggy unless I installed a custom launcher. Web browsing was poor and just navigating menus was slow. I’m not entirely sure what Sony did to this device to make it respond so poorly! Needless to say my time was short lived with this device.