Samsung finally announces Galaxy Gear wrist 'watch'

Credit: Stewart Wolpin/DVICE

It's not exactly dainty. And on the press bus, there was a lively discussion about who would actually buy it. But damn we critics, Samsung finally showed off its long-rumored Galaxy Gear watch at a grandiose event at the Tempodrom arena in Berlin here at the IFA show. It'll go on sale September 25; no word on pricing.

To be clear, Samsung never called Gear a "watch"; it's a "wearable." After getting a gander at what it can do (and trying it on), it's understandable why Samsung doesn't call it a watch. Gear is designed to be an extension for the Note 3 and the Note 10.1; you'll need a software upgrade to get it to work with the Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4 or the Note II. It likely won't work with any previous Galaxys or Notes.

But Gear isn't merely a way to see what's happening (notifications, calendar, call log, et al) on the Galaxy device it's Bluetooth paired with. Gear can actually make and receive phone calls (although it can't do so without a Galaxy device in your pocket) and take pictures.

If Gear alerts you to an incoming call, you simply lift the back of your wrist to your ear. Embedded in the clasp is an earpiece and a microphone. No one mentioned a separate Bluetooth earpiece, so I'm assuming wrist-up is the only way to conduct a call on the Gear. But it has S Voice, so you can command it to make a call, or ask it a Web-answerable question.

Or, in case of emergency, press the power button three times and your location and a message is transmitted to contacts saved in the watch.

Just below the Gear face on the band is a 1.9-megapixel camera, or memographer, as Samsung calls it. You just swipe down from the home screen and tap the image to capture stills or 720p video.

Specs, Apps And Extras

You move from one app screen to the next by swiping across the 1.63-inch, 320 x 320 pixel, 278 ppi super AMOLED screen. It runs on an 800 MHz single core processor with gyroscope, accelerometer and pedometer, has got 512 MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. A single charge provides 25 hours of normal usage from its standard 315 mAh button battery.

It'll also come in six colors, but a few are off-white and off-black, so maybe it's more like four colors and two shades.

Gear also will run its own apps, and Samsung intimated there were at least a half dozen available now with more to come.

So how not dainty is Gear? It weighs 73.8 grams, or 2.6 ounces. That may not be heavy, exactly, but Gear is definitely bulky and will weigh down the thin-wristed.

Gear sort of reminded me of the iPod nano that you could mount on a band, although the Gear has a lot more functionality. The rubberized band felt a bit on the cheap side, and the pastel colors sort of reminded me of a Swatch. It's hard to imagine a serious business type, the customer for the Note 3, wearing Gear. A leather choice for adults would have made it less kitschy.

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