Monday 23 October 2017

Adrian Weckler Tech Review: Samsung Gear S3

Great watch let down by social-media alerts

Samsung Gear S3
Samsung Gear S3
Lenovo Smart Assistant
Dell Latitude 5285
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Our technology editor reviews the Samsung Gear S3 watch.

Samsung Gear S3

Price: €440 from Argos

Rating: 4 Stars

Smartwatches haven't lit the world on fire. I like them, though, because they ­perform one crucial ­function: they save me taking my phone out of my pocket for notifications. Thus, they save me time, as much for preventing random foostering as the physical removal of the phone itself.

I have two which I alternate between: Apple's Watch Series 2 and an Android-powered Tag Heuer Connected. I like them both for different reasons.

But Samsung has an interesting, well-made alternative device in the Gear S3.

In the weeks I tested it, I found the Gear S3 to have some big strengths and some significant weaknesses.

The strengths are mostly around the way that Samsung has made this watch perform. Physically, it's very well thought through and extremely intuitive to use. Like its predecessor models, a rotating dial flips through the different functions on the watch. This is a great way of navigating functions and is far more tactile than relying on a tiny touchscreen or buttons.

The 1.3-inch round screen itself is also a highlight, being the brightest, clearest display I've yet encountered on a smartwatch.

Its array of functions, too, is impressive. With GPS on board and water-resistance to 1.5 metres, this is a very competent health and fitness tracking watch. Sensors on the back let you measure steps, calories and pulse. It's optimised to work Samsung's own S Health app, which is free to download.

The S3 is probably the best smartwatch you can get for voice calls. Both the speaker and microphone are ahead of what I have experienced on other watches. This is especially useful for incoming calls when you're in the car. Other features include 4GB of storage memory and a fast-charging facility.

The Gear S3 isn't perfect, though. There's no native Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat apps. That means an inferior notification service. (To be fair, there are clone apps that serve notifications for these apps.) If you're into your mobile payments, you can't use Android Pay on this watch, either. Instead, it only supports Samsung Pay, which isn't yet launched in the Irish or UK markets.

The S3 works perfectly on just about any Android phone, although it has limited functionality on iPhones.

Finally, I'm not crazy about the watch's look. To be sure, there isn't any such thing as a really elegant smartwatch. But the S3 looks a little cheaper than Apple's Watch or Tag Heuer's Connected, which is ironic as the S3 is not at all cheap. It's more expensive than some Apple Watch models. Compare prices

Tomorrow's tech

Dell Latitude 5285

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Dell Latitude 5285
 

Dell’s newly-announced Latitude 5285 is a near-identical clone of Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4. It has a 12-inch screen and an attachable keyboard (sold separately, just like the Surface Pro). It comes with Intel chips like the Surface Pro and ships with storage drives up to one terabyte. The only difference is the screen resolution, which is ‘full HD’ (1080p) instead of the higher mark on the Surface Pro 4. Expect this to sell from around €900.

Lenovo Smart Assistant

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Lenovo Smart Assistant
 

Google Home and Amazon Alexa have stolen a march on everyone with their voice-activated devices that connect to other household machines and the web. Now, Lenovo is getting in on the act with its Smart Assistant. This is something of a clone of Amazon’s Echo gadget, as it works with Amazon’s Alexa voice system, thereby replicating its functions. However, the Lenovo device has one big advantage — it’s a better music speaker with Harmon Kardon technology. Expect it to cost from €150 when it arrives here later this year.

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