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Samsung Galaxy Gear wrist watch review: The 'it' product in geek fashion

Samsung Galaxy Gear Watch


You've probably seen the TV ads for Samsung's new Galaxy Gear line, where people can, among other things, talk into their Galaxy Gear wrist watch.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear brings up a home screen with the time and weather conditions when you draw near it.
Beth McIntire
You can do a whole lot more than make phone calls with the Galaxy Gear watch.
Beth McIntire

I tested a Samsung Galaxy Gear watch along with an AT&T Wireless Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and it does make one feel like being in a James Bond movie, a "Get Smart" TV show or a futuristic science fiction flick. Plus, you can do much more than talk on the phone with a Galaxy Gear watch.

Before you can use the watch, you need to pair it with a compatible Samsung phone. Make sure the phone is turned on and it has NFC enabled. Then, remove the watch's charging cradle from its packaging and gently tap the back of the cradle to the back of the phone. This will launch an installation routine on the Galaxy phone. You'll need to allow the installation on the phone and agree to its terms.

Once the watch and phone talk to each other, you can easily manage the watch from the phone's Galaxy Gear app. The watch comes with an array of capabilities preinstalled, including voice calls, Samsung's S Voice personal assistant, 1.9 MP picture taking, a pedometer and a display of current weather conditions. You can read messages, view your calendar and access your phone's contacts list.

In the Galaxy Gear phone app, under Notifications, you can set the watch to show when you have new emails. You can even look through the email list on the watch and read messages, minus graphics.

You can make phone calls using a numeric keypad on the watch's 1.63" Super AMOLED screen, or you can dial someone in your contacts list. Those with large fingers or long fingernails may have a bit of trouble pressing the onscreen number buttons. If you have problems with the buttons, you can use S Voice to make calls instead.

Due to the location of the camera lens, taking photos involves some practice. Once you get the hang of it, you can take decent quality pictures, which then automatically sync to the Galaxy phone.

To install additional apps, which happens on the Galaxy phone rather than on the watch itself, you'll need to have or create a free account with Samsung's app store. Some of the apps you'll find there include options for checking social media accounts or viewing CNN news headlines.

Using the watch does require you to have the phone positioned somewhere in the vicinity. I couldn't go the entire 50 feet that some reviewers achieved, but it's still pretty neat to have a phone in one room and use the watch in another room. The distance likely depends on the number and thickness of the walls and floors separating the watch from the phone.

Somewhat larger than a standard men's digital watch, the Galaxy Gear watch looks a lot like a regular watch from a distance, but it may look clunky and feel uncomfortable on someone with small hands or slender wrists.

The Galaxy Gear watch's battery lasts an impressive amount of time - several days with light usage. However, charging the watch seems a bit cumbersome, requiring that the watch snap into a small charging station rather than simply plugging in a cable.

The Galaxy Gear watch comes in black, yellow, white and orange colors, costs $199 to $299 (depending on color) from AT&T Wireless with a two-year contract and requires a compatible phone. You can pair it with a Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S4 Active, Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note II GoPhone, Galaxy S III or Galaxy Mega, along with the upcoming Galaxy S5.

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