Thursday, September 5, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch Australian release

The Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch has now been announced in Germany at the IFA show and here is quite a reasonable review and summary by Bridget Carey at CNET.

From the review and other articles, the following are points which I find interesting.

Currently the Galaxy Gear will only word with the Galaxy Note 3 and no other Samsung smartphone. This is expected to change once Android 4.3 is released. The main point is keep to note is whether or not the Galaxy Gear will work with your existing Samsung Galaxy device and chances are it won't.

Battery life I consider to be quite short at around 12 hours. The Galaxy Gear requires a special dock, which you need to carry with you if you need to charge the device.

Price is expected to be around $300USD, which I'd consider to be quite dear and restricts the pool of potential buyers. The price in the press release is $299USD but it should be kept in mind in the States sales tax is added to the price and the tax rate varies between states.
One feature I thought was novel was "Find My Device" which enables you to set off an audible tone to find either your watch or your smartphone. That's handy for those times where you find yourself patting yourself down to find a misplaced mobile.
A camera lens is placed on the strap which suits wearing the watch face up on the left arm so as to take photos and images when you bring your left arm across in front of you. Worn face down or on the right arm and you may just be limited to selfies. The camera does appear as a bulge on the wrist strap which begs the question as to whether or not it is more likely to get bumped and damaged.
The band is rubberised which may not appeal to everyone. There is a choice of colours for the band.
The watch does appear to be light and fairly compact. Not a large bulky device.

Release date around the world is September 25th, except for Japan and the US, where the release is expect in October. The past has shown us the release date doesn't necessarily correspond to availability, but only time will tell whether that is the case or not.

The watch does have a built in speaker meaning it can be used as a speaker phone. If you think about it this opens up an interesting situation when driving. In fact if I seem recall the driving laws in Australia were changed to effectively limit the touching of a mobile phone whilst driving or stationary (not parked). The smartwatch opens up a new situation. I'm not sure how the law will handle this device since it isn't actually the mobile phone. I find the background noise with a docked mobile can make it difficult to hear. With the smartwatch being much closer, this may in theory improve the quality of calls. It may also make it much harder for law enforcement offices to detect people checking their text messages and Facebook as people are now longer holding an obvious smartphone, but could simply be checking the time on their watch. I only hope people using the device drive safely.

Whilst I may find it hard to justify the cost of the smartwatch, I do look feel a device which would enable me to hear my mobile ringing in a crowded shopping centre and that would assist. I miss so many calls when I'm out because with the older iPhone 3GS I have, I often can be hear the mobile ringing or feel the vibration  when the phone is on my pocket at the shopping centre. I'm not a fan of wearing a watch, but neither am I particularly happy with missing important calls.

I expect by the end of the year, perhaps for the Christmas buying period, we may see quite a few smart watch options.

Kelvin Eldridge
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PS. Here is a link to the press release.

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