back to article Wrist SLAP: Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch hands-on

Plenty has been said about the tech behind the Galaxy Gear already on El Reg, here and here, so what’s it actually like up close? It certainly looks a chunky beast but it’s a good deal lighter than you might think. Samsung Galaxy Gear Looks bulky but feels light and that black circle on the strap is a video camera – yikes! …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interestingly...

    it looks better in those photos than it does in the marketing bumpf release by samsung!

    Still too expensive for what it is though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interestingly...

      How bad must the bumpf be?

      It looks like a ten dollar toy.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interestingly...

      It's the ugliest watch I have seen in a long time, just wait till they start to get bigger screens.

      Will Apple trump them with their design?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interestingly...

      Might consider it as a replacement to my Omega Seamaster.........

      If I lose my mind.....

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But it's fugly as hell - looks rushes and has set the bar pretty low for Apple to beat - the Sony one (that works on any Android device) looks better.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      The first iPhone wasn't 3G (because it would have made the battery life a standing joke) and it didn't allow copy/paste (presumably to make the UI simpler). A case can be made for those omissions.

      Samsung don't like omitting anything it seems (to delight of my inner geek), putting in more features than are needed, and producing something that is too pricey and too bulky for many.

      Where smart-watches might come into their own is amongst the more frail amongst us- the Galaxy Gear watch already features an emergency help feature (pressing the power button three times repeatedly sends text messages and location information to pre-selected contacts) and a heart-rate monitor.

  3. Norphy

    What happens when the strap inventively wears out, snaps, gets chewed or whatever? How much would it cost to replace with a camera and microphone integrated into the thing?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or what happens when you want to change your phone and you have to change your £200-300 watch as well - yeah really. I know they want to try and build a brand but it's built on Android so should work with any Android handset.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        >I know they want to try and build a brand but it's built on Android so should work with any Android handset.

        Good point. I'll wait and see what turns up on XDA-forums down the line.

        To be fair though, most current Android phones don't have the right Bluetooth hardware- though I'm sure that will be different in a years time.

      2. JDX Gold badge

        Or what happens when you want to change your phone

        This is v1.0 for early adopters and as such, aimed at people who are happy with limitations to live at the bleeding edge. Wait for v2.0 or iWatch for something slicker.

        If it takes off, you can bet Android will get built-in support to fix these issues.

      3. Wize

        "...should work with any Android handset."

        It doesn't even work with the Galaxy S4 yet.

        I want to be able to mix and match devices. Someone might buy the watch and the quality (or lack there of) might influence their decidion to switch to a Samsung phone on their next upgrade.

        And constant bluetooth? That's going to suck battery.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: "...should work with any Android handset."

          Samsung's decision to limit this watch to some specific handsets makes more sense if you see the Gear as dipping a toe in the pool. It's a Mark I product.

          Not many people will buy a smart watch right now - even those interested in the concept will choose to wait until (if) such things mature a little bit. So that leaves the determined first adopters as the target market, many of whom are the sort to have bought a Galaxy S4 or Note already because they are amongst the highest spec'ed handsets around.

          Samsung probably don't expect to sell millions of this model, haven't tooled up for it- so if supply of the Gear is limited they might as well limit the list of compatible handsets to those that show the Gear off to its best (or at least the phones with the right hardware and that Samsung have control over).

          1. DougS Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: "...should work with any Android handset."

            It's a Mark I product.

            Mark II comes after they see what Apple comes up with :)

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: "...should work with any Android handset."

          "And constant bluetooth? That's going to suck battery."

          Thus the emphasis on Bluetooth 4.0, which if you'll recall was specced with low power in mind.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a lot of cash. Most people get their smartphones on a £xx per month deal subsidised by the telco - can't really see those same people forking out £220 up front for this gadget.

  5. CompuGuide

    Wrong on so many levels...

    1. Appalling battery life.

    2. Appalling in sunlight.

    3. Tied to Samsung = proprietary.

    4. A camera on a watch - Yikes!

    5. Way too big.

    6. It has to be turned on each time you want to use it.

    1. jai

      Re: Wrong on so many levels...

      6. It has to be turned on each time you want to use it.

      i've been using an iPod nano on a watch strap for the last 18 months or so and it's surprising how much of a problem it isn't having to turn it on to check the time on a watch.

      just goes to show, i guess, how rarely i find myself needing to know the time (sitting in front of a computer for the majority of every day, it's far easier just to look in the bottom/top corner of the screen depending on if i'm at work/home

      but the rest of points i totally agree with

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wrong on so many levels...

        Thing is, you don't really need fast updates on a watch. Colour isn't a big deal either. So LCD or e-paper makes much more sense.

  6. Pete the not so great

    Is it water proof?

    Not much fitness use if not.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Is it water proof?

      Yeah, that "mini speaker in the strap buckle." looks like an instant casualty the first time you wash your hands.

      1. jaduncan

        Re: Is it water proof?

        I'd like to think they are smart enough to have a membrane (waterproof) speaker. They aren't expensive these days.

  7. Bobby Omelette

    "Getting things organised between the two devices is the Gear Manager that sorts out sync and the available apps. It'll even help you find your Gear if it's gone astray".

    Like if you happen to lose your arm with the Gear on it?

  8. Big_Ted

    Oh dear

    This makes me more likely to go the Google Glass route than the smartwatch one.

    Locked to a single manufacturer ? Who do they think they are ? Apple ?

    We expect it from the fruity one. This is not a good move if you want to sale a lot of products, people arn't going to buy a Samsung phone just for the watch but they might have bought the watch if it worked with any Android device above a certain version say Jelly Bean and above.

    Now when are those glass devices due again ? ? ?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Oh dear

      >http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/30/4677066/google-acquires-android-smartwatch-manufacturer-wimm-labs

      Apparently Google snaffled up smart-watch makers WIMM a little while back. I'm ignorantly assuming that some of the work done on Google Glass is transferable to a smart-watch, and vice versa ( similar constraints, such as power efficiency, battery placement, unorthodox UIs, as examples).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Batteries

    We have grudgingly given in and faced that we have to charge our smartphones every day. A 'watch', though, is a different matter. Until the battery lasts at least a week, preferably a month!, I'm just not interested.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Batteries

      The watch lasting a week should only be an issue if people sleep with their watches on. But I hear nothing about Qi charging, which (or a similar wireless charging standard) should be standard on a smartwatch so you can just throw the watch on it at night and pick it up in the morning (or after the shower) topped off.

  10. Himalayaman
    Holmes

    Ugly and low battery

    Didn't Samsung get the nota? When you want to upgrade an existing product (a watch) you don't destroy its main features.

  11. graeme leggett

    Can it...

    Stop me turning invisible permanently?

    (apparently Ben Murphy is still with us, but the series is not on DVD)

    1. VinceH Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Can it...

      "but the series is not on DVD"

      One of a number I'd like to add to my collection. :(

  12. poopypants

    Qualcomm Toq

    The Qualcomm Toq looks like a better design as it lasts 3 days between wireless charges, has a "Mirasol" colour e-Ink display that is visible in bright sunlight, and works with any Android 4.03 or above phone.

    http://blog.gsmarena.com/qualcomm-announces-new-toq-smartwatch-for-android-smartphones/

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Qualcomm Toq

      The Toq sounds interesting. The biggest interest for me in this case is the Mirasol display, as it would be the first color quick-refresh nonvolatile display to market. Been waiting on one for years, and if successful could mean some good business for Qualcomm in future phones and tablets.

  13. Tom7

    Meh

    25-hour battery life is not that great an improvement, TBH. My first (and only, I've seen the light) digital watch had a battery that lasted for four years. Even my hand-winding gold-plated 19th-century pocket watch lasts longer than that.

    I'm sure there will be security worries about this, too. I was visiting a site yesterday with prominent "No Photography" signs up everywhere, and whenever someone whipped out a smartphone they were immediately told not to take a photo with it. But why not just leave your watch recording for a few minutes as you wander around? Who's really going to notice? And of course it can only be a matter of time before someone sits opposite the girl in the short skirt on a bus with one of these...

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Meh

      In a Iain M. Banks story, the Culture visit Earth and remark incredulously upon a No Photography notice in a museum:

      "They want to own the light?"

      William Gibson is a bit more inclined towards prosthetic-eyeballs, so that glamour films can be captured from the starlet's point of view. If prosthetic eyeballs are ever introduced for medical reasons, there will likely be some call for DRM so that images transmitted to the brain can't be backed up for future replay.

      Arthur C Clarke employed wormholes to explore the issues of a zero-privacy world.

    2. Wize

      Re: Meh

      If you want to covertly record something, you won't be waving your phone about.

      A phone in the shirt pocket can get a reasonable picture through cloth (stripy shirts aren't so good).

      And if you go on to the surveillance sites, you will find currently available devices that pose as pens, buttons, ties and even watches.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Meh

        Cheers Wize, your suggestion of a cheap camera pen from Alibaba seems much less hassle than having my eyeballs swapped out for some Nikons, and far safer than plumbing up some wormholes.

        Alas, your handy tips won't be of much us to me, cos I never had those blackmail and voyeurism neuro-cartridges implanted in my brain (back when they were on a buy-one-get-one-free special offer)

        1. Wize

          @Dave Re: Meh

          Dunno what you are on about. I was talking about the likes of the 'No photography' sign in the post before yours. Nothing to do with your prosthetic eyeball nonsense.

          And covert cameras is not all about blackmail. There is a bit of voyeurism too.

          Ok, other, more practical uses are recording incidents of abuse (your boss, your crazy neighbour etc) as well as industrial espionage.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Meh

        "And if you go on to the surveillance sites, you will find currently available devices that pose as pens, buttons, ties and even watches."

        What? No shoes? Voyeurs would be snapping those up.

  14. Adam T

    Why?

    Putting aesthetics aside, and ignoring the geek in me: Why should I want one of these?

    Their CEO was quoted as saying Samsung Gear will become a fashion icon, everyone will be wearing them.

    Why?

    I don' t need a pedometer. I don't need a heart monitor. I don't need an address book on my wrist, not a camera nor a dictafone. I sometimes make a point of *not* carrying my phone to some places - why would I want to leave my watch behind as well? (not that it's any use beyond 10 meters in this case anyway).

    I love gadgets, even just for the sake of themselves, but when you try to sell it as a lifestyle object, all I can smell is snake oil.

    I'll take a smart watch that can offer me something smart, but this is just an ugly user interface to something that's already mobile and pocket sized. Though I guess that can be disputed re. Galaxy Note.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      >I don't need a heart monitor.

      You probably don't, at least not now and for many more years to come I hope! However, some people would benefit from one- and their GP might appreciate a week's data log when a patient presents with some chest symptoms. Many people, usually the more elderly, have emergency call pendants. 'Wearable tech' is already here for some limited cases, and may move in towards the mainstream.

      Some people wear what looks like a piece if jewellery but marked with information, to alert medics to drug allergies and the like. Obviously a pendant or bracelet is less obtrusive than a current-generation smart-watch, but electronic kit tends to get smaller over time.

      I agree about the camera - it adds bulk and can make people feel awkward. However, I suspect Samsung's intended market for this Mark I product are those that want every conceivable feature whether they need it or not (ie Galaxy S4 owners... friendly joke : ))

      1. Adam T

        Re: Why?

        Fair points, and I actually find the idea of pendants quite interesting (perhaps concealment appeals), but it doesn't say why me. I have money, I want cool stuff; they've messed up what was a really good opportunity - seemingly because they're impatient and would rather be first to market than first to get it right.

        That sounds awful familiar to me. Not an iFan, but I seem to recall smartphones were around before the iPhone too.

        Anyway. Maybe I'll come back when someone comes up with a u-shadow.

  15. FanMan

    I've got a smart enough watch, thanks.. it's 12.59.

    Quote from Mashable: "Jeff Orr, a mobile industry analyst with ABI Research, estimates that there will be 1.2 million smart watch shipments worldwide this year, 7 million in 2014 and 140 million in 2018. That growth, he says, is based on the assumption that three or more big players enter the space and drive consumers to adopt the device."

    They won't drive me. This piece of junk has flop written all over it.

  16. kensal

    i think the 'is it waterproof question is very significant'....if this wasn't mentioned at the conference or if it isn't waterproof then this watch is a massive fail.

  17. William Donelson

    Can you say "Boat Anchor" ?

    New Samsung "wrist" watch, my own visual interpretation...

    http://gyazo.com/8f70e744f4f4d70befdb3340be974847

  18. KjetilS

    My interpretation of the photos, combined with what I've read other places, the metal thing underneath the watch is a safety device to keep journalists and others from nicking them from the stand.

    It should (in theory) be a bit slimmer than the photos show.

    1. William Donelson

      So, only for small boats then?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is not a music player

    It is not a music player (or a phone), so it isn't for me.

    It really seems to be a companion device for the phones.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: It is not a music player

      I believe that was the intention. The phone does the heavy lifting and the network negoriation. The watch piggybacks off the phone and gathers its data from that.

      1. IanCa

        Re: It is not a music player

        this needs to be done the other way round. put the network interface in the watch and the bare minimum needed to support it - drop the camera, music/video player and all that from the watch.

        The phone/tablet then becomes a big screen / large battery / large compute power supporting device which has all the bells and whistles.

        that way you can leave your (getting too big for your pocket these days) smartphone behind and still have a basic texting/calling device always with you, on your wrist. When you need the big screen and computing power, pickup the smartphone/tablet sized device that is linked to it.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: It is not a music player

          Can't. You need some length, and the watch isn't long enough for an antenna with good-enough range. Not to mention phones can house multiple antennae. Only way you could improve that is the put the antennae on the strap, which has its own hazards.

  20. Greg D

    I think I would find this useful

    Firstly, I own a Galaxy Note 2. If anyone else has used this phone, you'd know about its bulk. It's a pain in the arse getting in and out your pocket, just to check the time or read a message etc. But I still love it.

    I would actually find this watch useful. Plus I think it looks awesome.

    I'd find it much easier reading and sending the odd text using a smartwatch bluetoothed to my phone, and checking the time obviously. In fact, I'd say I'd find it about 1000x more useful than my actual watch, which I might add, cost £300! About the same price as a mechanical watch then and does a shit load more.

    I'd rather buy one of these than a £1000 "I'm a pretentious douchebag" Rolex.

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