Whatever the high hopes for smartwatch technology, first impressions suggest the world isn't quite ready for Star Trek level tech yet, with another Android-based device failing to inspire as the Gear and S Voice technology offer limited interaction and camera capabilities.
A Spec on Your Wrist
Samsung has finally unveiled the Galaxy Gear smartwatch at a livestream from Berlin. The device is pretty minimal on the specifications and size front, so that it remains practical as a wearable device. It comes with a 320x320 square Super AMOLED touchscreen that's just 1.6 inches.
A camera is mounted on the strap, facing out with a 1.9 megapixel lens, capable of taking 10-second 720p video clips with audio captured by two microphones, the Memographer app feature is in charge of capturing these events. Inside is a gyro and accelerometer, all powered by an 800MHz processor with 4GB of storage and 512MB of system memory.
It will starting shipping on 25 September (in October for the U.S. at $299) in what looks like a wide range of colors, with orange, grey and beige among them to over 140 countries, and works with the upcoming Galaxy Note 3 and 2014 Note 10.1 (more on them soon), also shown at the event and somewhat limiting its audience, although Galaxy S4 support should be along soon.
Power is a Problem
The Gear, as predicted, can only last a day on a single charge of its 315 mAh battery. Forget to do so and it'll be useless until you are next at your charger, assuming you only have one. That means you could be without it until you get home, unless you want yet another charger to shove in a bag. Hopefully, it'll just charge off a mini USB lead, which might make things less of a problem.
On the plus side there are some 70 dedicated apps from a range of partners ready to light up the Gear, with lifestyle and health apps up front to give it some purpose, but also handy apps like an eBay one to alert you to upcoming deals or auction endings you might easily miss.
Taking the Shot
Taking photos with the Gear could be its saving grace. No longer will we need to fumble around trying to get the phone out of a pocket or bag, line it up and shoot. Point and swipe on the Gear's screen and that's your photo taken, ideal for those candid and fleeting moments.
That's a neat idea and the touchscreen is also augmented by S Voice, so you can talk to the device to get it perform a range of commands. Clearly this is a device that will need a lot of testing and we'll hope to see one in action before the end of the month.
Based on the launch, The Galaxy Gear is what you'd expect from a smartwatch, but it is in no way inspiring, fun, exciting or magical. Perhaps the tech doesn't exist to make it so, in which case fair enough. However, this does leave the wizards at Apple with a chance to do something out of the ordinary and look more superior than they really are.