Friday 20 April 2018

9 Things You Need To Know About Samsung’s New Smartwatch

Visitors try out the new Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch
Visitors try out the new Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch

Adrian Weckler, Technology Editor

Is Samsung’s new Galaxy Gear smartwatch a must-have gadget? Or is it just techno-frippery for a geek fringe? Here are nine things you need to know about the new gadget.

1. Yes, you talk to your wrist

The watch, which is designed to be wirelessly connected to your phone at all times, has a 1.6-inch colour screen, a microphone and a speaker. Make no mistake about it: this is Dick Tracy stuff, not some mere accessorising adornment. It doesn’t have its own sim card (perhaps future models might) and relies on your smartphone’s nearby presence. But you can make or take calls on it (the phone supports Samsung’s relatively usable voice control). You can also dictate messages.


2. It’s taking apps seriously

Ebay on a 1.6-inch smartwatch? You better believe it. While rivals such as Sony’s newly-launched SmartWatch 2 run a small number of (mostly social media) apps, the Galaxy Gear adds handy productivity apps like Evernote (and eBay). 70 are available, in all.


3. Don’t write off its camera

The Galaxy Gear has a relatively flimsy 2-megapixel camera. While that sounds puny in this age of 20-megapixel smartphones (a la Sony’s new Xperia Z1), this version has one key advantage: speed. You don’t need to whip your phone out of your pocket or handbag to snap something when the occasion arises. Up to 4GB of internal storage is a reasonable amount of space to hold your photos, too.


4. It’s another gadget you have to charge

Forget about the year-long battery that most watches have: this wlll need to be charged every night. No surprise here, given its 1.6-inch colour screen, processor, Ram, camera, microphone and speaker. But the pile of chargers cluttering up our life is starting to get a little ridiculous.


5. It packs lots of tech into a small package

No-one wants to nerd out to tech specs, but it is still worth noting that Samsung has crammed quite a bit of technology into this watch. That includes a high-resolution (super-amoled) screen, an 800Mhz processor, 512MB of Ram, 4GB of internal storage and a 2-megapixel camera. It also has fitness-related tech features, namely a pedometer, accelerometer and gyroscope.


6. No iPhones need apply

The gadget will only work with Android phones, and only those running the very latest edition of it (4.3) at that. So bye bye 98pc of all current smartphones. (Coincidentally, it will work with Samsung’s newly-announced Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phone.) This will probably change over time, but it means massive restrictions to using the device from the off.


7. Does it pass the Polite Society test?

For many people, it is still a little rude to constantly check your phone in company. Will it be any less rude to incessantly glance at your watch for new messages and alerts? Will gadgets like this enrage those who already think we’ve ceded too much attention away from physical company to virtual society?


8. It’s probably a bloke thing

There’s no doubt about it -- this is a gizmo aimed at big wrists. The gadget itself is bulky for a watch and, at 74 grams, relatively heavy too. That may not put those who like large aviator style timepieces off, but it might be a sartorial step too far for some.


9. Don’t expect this to be a top-5 Christmas gift

Despite all the hoopla, this is still experimental stuff. Aside from the non-compatibility with most smartphones, many people will take time to get their head around having a computer-phone on their wrist. While we all love a shiny new thing, it would be a major surprise if the Galaxy Gear became a big-selling gadget this Christmas. It is expected to sell in Ireland for between €250 and €300.

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