There is something just inherently appealing to the idea of a smartwatch, even if it hard to explain why logically. After all, almost everyone these days has a smartphone, so what’s the point of carrying another ‘smart’ device? Maybe it is all these pop culture depictions of wearable gadgets – from the wrist communicator used by Dick Tracy, to inspector gadget and Batman all sporting their own versions.
It’s only in recent years, however, that smartwatches have begun to become a reality. One of the many permutation’s of Apple’s iPod Nano, for example, could be strapped to the wrist. A campaign for an e-ink smartwatch called Pebble raised over ten million dollars on Kickstarter, becoming the second-most funded project on the site and releasing its finished product on the Fourth of July, 2013. Apple is also rumored to be hard at work on an iWatch.
And then there’s Samsung’s new Galaxy Gear smartwatch. With plenty of competition both behind it and yet to come, how does it match up? Is it fun? Useful? Practical? Worth the money?
Well, no, not really, for the most part. First off, there’s the price: a cool $299, for which you could get a reasonably functional smartphone without even worrying about a contract. A smartphone which could make calls, connect to the Internet, and store your music and other media. None of which, it should be noted, the Galaxy Gear can do independently. What can it do? Well, it can connect to your smartphone. It uses this connection to ferry notifications and text messages to your wrist, or to control your phone’s music playback.
It won’t do any of this for very *long*, however, as its battery life is optimistically described by Samsung as “25 hours”, and reported by many reviewers who were actually using the thing as much, much shorter. So that’s another thing to charge on a daily basis, not unlike your regular “dumb” smartwatch. It also restricts many of its features to certain newer handsets, meaning that not only do you need to already have a smartphone to really take advantage of your three-hundred-dollar piece of technology, you need to have a specific smartphone. One also manufactured by Samsung, naturally.
Unlike the low-power, sunlight-visible e-ink display used by the competing Pebble (which, incidentally, sells at half the price and hs easily several times the compatibility), the Galaxy Gear has a high-resolution AMOLED touchscreen which evinces noticeable lag in its attempts at a user interface and sucks down power at an astonishing rate. It also sports a camera which can be used to shoot awkward pictures and video from your wrist – but not, for whatever mind-boggling reason, for video calls. Let me just repeat that. Samsung stuck a high-resolution screen and a high-megapixel camera on a wristwatch, and you cannot use it for video calls.
In short? Just pull your smartphone out of your pocket. Faster, easier, cheaper.