Get in Gear

This watch tells the time... and makes calls too.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TECHNOLOGY - By DONO­VAN QUEK 1-800-88-9999

ADy­namic duo

For the Gear to work, it has to be paired with a com­pat­i­ble sam­sung de­vices such as the Galaxy note 3 via the bun­dled adap­tor which clips around the Gear.

set­ting up the con­nec­tion is fairly sim­ple and has­sle-free, as all that the user has to do is to tap the adap­tor with the smart­phone or tablet. this will ini­ti­ate the Gear to con­nect with the smart­phone or tablet via Blue­tooth.

the adap­tor is also re­quired for charg­ing the Gear, as the port to plug in the mi­cro UsB cable is un­der­stand­ably placed on the adap­tor and not on the Gear it­self. the bat­tery, at 315mah, can last be­tween one to two days de­pend­ing on us­age.

We used the Galaxy note 3 and upon pair­ing with the Gear, we were prompted to down­load the Gear Man­ager app from the sam­sung store.

the app func­tions as the brain of the Gear. Most of the tweaks and con­fig­u­ra­tions of the Gear’s in­ter­face are set up via this app.

as a watch, users can choose from a se­lec­tion of modes that are of­fered in Gear Man­ager. this in­cludes nu­mer­ous ana­logue and dig­i­tal clock vari­a­tions, as well as cus­tomis­able short­cuts to ac­com­pany the clock.

since there are no other but­tons aside from the power but­ton, nav­i­gat­ing around the Gear’s in­ter­face is done via swipe and ges­ture con­trol. as a rule of thumb, swip­ing down­wards will take the user to the pre­vi­ous screen.

the other fea­tures of the Gear in­clude read­ing sMs mes­sages, re­ceiv­ing no­ti­fi­ca­tions for cer­tain apps, con­trol­ling your smart­phone’s me­dia player, and count­ing the amount of steps s in­no­va­tion in the smart­phone in­dus­try is slow­ing down, man­u­fac­tur­ers are try­ing to tap into other po­ten­tial mar­kets, such as wear­able de­vices.

among the new en­trants in this mar­ket this year, the Galaxy Gear has re­ceived the most at­ten­tion, as it is the first smart­watch at­tempt by top smart­phone man­u­fac­turer sam­sung.

We put the Gear, which was an­nounced along­side the com­pany’s highly pop­u­lar Galaxy note 3, to the test.

Trendy time­piece

in terms of looks, the Gear ap­pears rather fu­tur­is­tic with its square de­sign. it brings back mem­o­ries of the many in­ter­ac­tive watches por­trayed in sci­ence fic­tion pro­grammes dur­ing the 1980s and 1990s. those who aren’t used to plas­tic watches will un­doubt­edly have to get used to the feel of the Gear’s strap.

De­spite the plas­tic qual­ity of the strap, the Gear it­self has one of the stur­di­est builds among the smart­watches that we’ve come across with its stain­less steel de­sign for the watch case. the Gear has only one but­ton, which is lo­cated on the right side of the de­vice. this can be used to power on and off the screen, al­though there’s not much use for it as the Gear’s gy­ro­scope works fairly well. When­ever you move your wrist up to look at the time, the screen will au­to­mat­i­cally turn it­self on.

screen vis­i­bil­ity is not an is­sue, as we could still see the dis­play with ease even while we were di­rectly un­der the af­ter­noon sun. you’ve taken as well the amount of calo­ries you’ve burned.

one of the finest fea­tures is the auto lock func­tion. if you walk away with the Gear from the paired smart­phone or tablet when this is en­abled, the screen will au­to­mat­i­cally lock it­self up with a se­cu­rity method of your choice (Pin or pat­tern). this will be un­done when the Gear comes back within range.

the main ques­tion that has been posed to us when we were seen with the smart­watch was whether it is ca­pa­ble of mak­ing calls, and the an­swer is yes. in a sense, it works like any other Blue­tooth head­set and trans­fers the calls from your phone to the watch. there is a loud­speaker and mi­cro­phone built into the strap, so when mak­ing or re­ceiv­ing a call, you can speak to the watch, just like how the Power Rangers or in­spec­tor Gad­get used to do on tv.

Arm your­self with apps

new apps can only be down­loaded via Gear Man­ager on the paired de­vice. it al­lows users to ac­cess a new sub­sec­tion of the sam­sung app store which is oth­er­wise in­ac­ces­si­ble.

While the se­lec­tion of apps is still rather lim­ited, we’ve no­ticed that there was a steady in­crease of apps through­out our re­view pe­riod.

For now, users can check out dif­fer­ent clock themes, fit­ness apps and third-party apps for con­nect­ing to so­cial me­dia net­works.

When the Gear was an­nounced, one of the fea­tures which raised our eye­brows was the cam­era. a cam­era on the wrist is a recipe for dis­as­ter in the wrong hands (pun in­tended). sam­sung has ad­dressed this by dis­abling the abil­ity to mute the cam­era shut­ter sound. this means that there is no way to turn of the shut­ter sound, which can be pretty loud and at­ten­tion-grab­bing. Qual­ity-wise, the 1.9-megapixel cam­era is ac­tu­ally de­cent. Don’t ex­pect the im­age qual­ity to be on par with your smart­phones but they are bet­ter than any­thing that you can ever ex­pect from a wear­able de­vice. Pic­tures can eas­ily be trans­ferred to the phone at the click of a vir­tual but­ton.

in ad­di­tion to snap­ping pic­tures, the Gear’s cam­era is also ca­pa­ble of shoot­ing short video clips last­ing no more than 15 sec­onds each.

All in all

sam­sung’s Galaxy Gear is one of the most prom­i­nent smart­watches to be re­leased this year and it’s ex­pected to in­crease the adop­tion of wear­able de­vices.

the main pur­pose of hav­ing a smart­watch is to min­imise the need to take your phone out of your pocket when a new no­ti­fi­ca­tion ar­rives. the Gear is great for this, as you can read your sMs with­out ever pick­ing up your phone.

and as of writ­ing this re­view, sam­sung is ex­pected to re­lease an up­date that will al­low users to read third-party app no­ti­fi­ca­tions to show up in full. in other words, you will be able to read mes­sages from Gmail, Face­book, twit­ter and more. the only down­side is that the Gear will only work with a sam­sung de­vice run­ning on an­droid 4.3 or above which means it works with a very lim­ited de­vice cur­rently.

But as with the app up­date, the Gear can only get bet­ter with time.

one of the bet­ter built smart­watches in the mar­ket; un­ex­pect­edly good cam­era;

only works with lim­ited de­vices;

Pros:

Cons:

pricey.

bytz@thes­tar.com.my

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