Smartwatches – Just a plaything or the next essential item?

Smartwatches   Just a plaything or the next essential item?

A smartwatch isn’t high up on my shopping list if I’m honest. For me, I’ve got into the habit of checking my phone for the date or time. I simply never wear a watch, but there’s no denying the fact that many still value them.

The Sony Smartwatch 2 and the Pebble watch have now been joined by the Samsung Galaxy Gear – a watch that depends on you having a Samsung Galaxy phone. There’s one feature I really like on the Galaxy Gear, and that’s this..

The built-in speaker allows users to conduct hands-free calls directly from the Gear, maintaining connections .. without disrupting .. daily routines. For example, a user leaving the grocery store, whose hands are full with shopping bags, could still make a call by speaking into the GALAXY Gear without touching the screen. Users can also draft messages, create new calendar entries, set alarms, and check the weather on the GALAXY Gear with S Voice.

Yes, it’ll let me realise my childhood dream of talking into my watch and hearing someone talk back. This, in itself, has just put my coolness thermometer to sub-zero.

Smartwatches   Just a plaything or the next essential item?

The reality of owning a Galaxy Gear isn’t fully known, but I think battery life is going to be a major sticking point. The battery in the watch should, from what we’re hearing here, last a day. This effectively means you’ll need to put the watch next to your phone and conduct the nightly charging routine. Fiddling around with a phone charger, then fiddling around with another charger for your watch.

Michael Knight never had that problem with his kit…or his KITT.

Smartwatches   Just a plaything or the next essential item?

The Samsung Galaxy Gear has a 1.6″ (4cm) LED display, 4GB of memory, a speaker and a microphone. The Sony alternative has similar specs but can be paired with any Android 4.0+ device, whereas the Samsung watch only talks to Galaxy handsets.

Oh, and there’s another difference. The Galaxy Gear has a 1.9 megapixel camera. This means, effectively, if you ever need a quick snap you can just crack one off with a bit of wrist action. Nobody will ever know.

I’m still not convinced though. I admire the Pebble watch. It has a great battery life and integrates well with online services, but the Samsung and Sony smartwatches, which have full colour screens and don’t operate for quite as long, might struggle. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this though. Do you intend buying one? Would you like a watch included in a package deal instead of having to pay an additional cost for it?

The Coolsmartphone Podcast - Episode 62
Panasonic abandon ship, no more Eluga!
  • Xander Coley

    Omate’s TrueSmart is by far a better device with better spec, better looking and more versatile. Its water-resistant, works independently from and with all smartphones (Android, windows, iOS). 3G, Voice & Gestures!

  • Peter Jones

    “if you ever need a quick snap you can just crack one off with a bit of wrist action. Nobody will ever know.” made me giggle – may need re-wording Leigh

  • Paul

    I’d have one, but only if the price is right. If it’s merely an accessory and requires connection an existing phone or handset, then it needs to be affordable and have decent battery life. The pebble ticks some of those boxes, although I still think the price is expensive for a watch.

    Omate’s TrueSmart’s aim is to replace the need for a phone, and battery life is around the same as a smartphone. All well and good, but the watches out there at the moment, are too small. Admittedly, it needs to be small and comfortable to wear, but Omate advertise the fact it can access the thousands of Apps on the play store. Just how many of them can you actually use on such a small screen.

    I said it in another post, but Samsung did a concepts video not long ago showing their flexi-glass. There have been some rumoured designs on what the Galaxy Gear could look like, and the best one by far was the one that used flexi-glass, and wrapped around the wrist. When removed, the strap becomes a full touchscreen, like our modern touch screen phones of today. Article is here:

    This would be the concept I’d adopt, as I love the idea of having my phone wrapped around my arm or wrist as opposed to avoid it slipping out of my hand or pocket. Since the true Galaxy Gear was announced, I couldn’t help feel disappointed that it was nothing like the one on the above link. I know I shouldn’t believe rumours, but that concept design is the sort of thing we’d expect Johnny Ive at Apple, stylish and expensive looking. I really hoped Samsung (or anyone else other than Apple) would grow a pair and finally bring out something innovative and change the game. Sadly, Samsung did what they always do, bring their own variation of something that’s already out, and shot themselves in the foot by making it only compatible with their own phones.

    TV watches didn’t take off, nor did the digital camera watches, mainly because either the screen size did not fit the purpose or the battery life was so bad that having to charge it before the day was out was a real pain.

    Until the battery life and the screen size, are addressed, or better still something that reflects that sexy-flexy display type version is a reality, then in true Dragon’s Den style, “I’m out”.

  • Doug

    I have just placed funding on a kick starter project for the Omate TrueSmart.
    Will I ever use it when it arrives? No idea. Do i want actually want one? No idea.
    It seems a good idea especially when I am on holiday and want to ditch the iphone and great in the pool during my early morning swim.

    I have pledged it for a bit of fun but like the Notion Ink awful tablet what I got sucked into, it might end up on Ebay!

    • Doug

      You can review Gears when it arrives in November if you want :)

  • Guest

    @10d7308b664a0430747a57856e014f7a:disqus The TrueSmart is actually aimed at BOTH those wanting a companion or/and a replacement phone. Hence my comment “works independently from and with all smartphones (Android, windows, iOS)”…

  • Xander Coley

    @10d7308b664a0430747a57856e014f7a:disqus the Omate TrueSmart is not only designed to a phone replacement. Hence my comment “works independently from and with all smartphones (Android, windows, iOS)”.

    For me personally I want one for going to the beach or to the gym. So the water-resistance of the TrueSmart (along with the superior spec.) makes this a fairly easy choice for me.

    I was hoping that the Galaxy Gear was going to be special… I’m a Samsung fan and really rate my GS4. So I was very disappointed with the Gear.

    • Doug

      And if it connects to my Land-rover Bluetooth I will be well chuffed as I will have hands free and a Bluetooth audio remote from my wrist!

    • Paul

      Ah ok, thanks. I personally can’t see the point of a watch that requires connection to a phone anyway which is probably why I only saw the Omate’s independent capabilities as one of its benefits, and ignored the fact it can connect to a phone too. The Pebble is a nice looking watch, but its still got a long way to go in terms of App support, and again it connects to a phone, which I think makes it (and others like it) an unnecessary device, especially at their asking prices, just to avoid looking at your phone, I don’t understand it.

      The Omate is just another watch with a small screen to me. OK, it can replace a phone, but the screen is too small.

      It’s not the one on this link which to me would be a “game changer” for phones and smart watches, and is the only one I’d consider buying :-)

  • martin clinton

    My pebble FINALLY arrived this week (having ordered it in March!) and its nice to be able to see the screen all the time (without having to ‘wake it up’ like the Sony etc.), as I’m still used to using a watch. It vibrates on incoming texts / calls and shows the texts, for me that’s enough, if my phone is in my coat/bag I know someone’s tried to contact me.
    I know some people want to be able to field a call, text a reply on the watch, but that’s not really for me, so its horses for courses really.
    The battery life of the Samsung is a little short as well (I have enough ‘charge paranoia’ with my work and personal phones!!)

  • John Kyle

    “For example, a user leaving the grocery store, whose hands are full with shopping bags, could still make a call by speaking into the GALAXY Gear without touching the screen”

    This I would like to see, a bloke carrying heavy bags from (insert name of local supermarket here) struggling to hold his wrist up to his face so he tell his nagging wife he didn’t forget the lambrini.

  • gazbert

    Anyone else think the wrist mic is all but identical to the one in the Hot Watch on kickstarter.