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First Impressions: Samsung Gear Fit smartwatch and fitness band

Samsung is not a company know for "simple". They're an "everything and the kitchen sink" kind of company.

This was apparent during the launch of the original Galaxy Gear smartwatch, as Samsung proudly touted all of the features built into it. Continuing with the Gear 2, you too can have a camera and universal remote IR blaster bolted to your wrist. The Gear Fit however, walks away from that, displaying an uncharacteristic focus for Samsung.

It has two main jobs. Display alerts, and track health and fitness stuff.

That first job is accomplished via a skinny AMOLED display. A 432x128 screen is almost a little too narrow when the watch is worn face out on the wrist. The text crawling the screen arrives at an awkward angle when you hold the watch up Dick Tracy style. I prefer wearing my watches face in however, and that provides a slightly more natural viewing angle. This is my primary use for a smartwatch, can it feed me alerts and notifications. Samsung has one of the better set ups for customizing which apps and services can send notifications to your wrist. I now often leave the house with my phone completely muted, and use the watch to filter important alerts.

The Gear Fit includes heart rate and motion sensors. Combined with Samsung's S-Health app, it provides some fairly robust tools for capturing pedometer, workout, and sleep information. Also handy are a number of applets like stopwatches and timers to round out your fitness routine.

Even in early use there are a couple complaints to be made.

First the screen. I prefer AMOLED displays on my phone, but watches are a different usage case. Your phone looks incredible in low light and indoor situations, but washes out in direct sunlight. Watches like the Qualcomm Toq are the opposite, looking incredible outdoors and a little mediocre indoors. They fill in the gaps of what your phone does poorly. The Gear Fit has the same kind of screen your phone does, which means it has the same benefits and drawbacks. Also, AMOLED draws more power than the digital ink and Mirasol displays found on other watches, which means a fair amount of time the watch will simply be off. Gesturing up with the watch will turn it on, but occasionally a gesture wont register. It's a minor quirk, but you get spoiled by watches like the Toq and Pebble always being on.

Power is the second major critique. The proprietary charge cradle is tiny, and might be easily lost. It'll be yet another thing to keep track of, especially for those folks who travel frequently. Also, battery life is good, but not great. I can count on about three solid days of juice, which is good for a Gear, but pales in comparison to the five days I get with a Pebble and six days I get with a Toq. I'll be OK with a freshly charged Gear Fit over a weekend, but I've taken the Toq out on week long business trips without having to pack the charge cradle.

Maybe what's most exciting though is Samsung taking a step back from their current company mission of packing every device with tons of features and gimmicks. The Gear Fit is a streamlined experience, and minus a couple quirks, succeeds fairly well at its mission. For a more hands on look at the Gear Fit, hit the related video at the top!

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