So, I bought this new Note 3, and thought that it might be fun to try out a cool new technology–a smartwatch. The Samsung Galaxy Gear smartphone seemed like a great device–320×320 high quality Super AMOLED display, ability to make and receive phone calls in Dick Tracy fashion, get email, texts, and other notifications, and even have a simple camera on my wrist for snapshots and short 720p video clips.
To build on the curiosity, it appeared that many retailers were unable to keep the Gear in stock. So, when I found availability on Verizon’s website, I jumped in with both feet and ordered one. As I waited for the smartwatch’s delivery, I decided to read up more on the device. Ouch.
First one, then two, then half a dozen online blogs and review sites that I trust went on and on and on about how it was a solid piece of hardware/wristwear (though a couple disagreed with that too), but with several significant flaws. I learned, while watching FedEx tracking information, that the Gear could ONLY display email received through the Note 3’s native email app–NOT Gmail. I discovered that it could display text messages, but could not easily (or reliably) respond. It could not provide Facebook or Twitter notifications–except to say that I have one and offer to open the app on my phone for me (and a couple reviews mentioned that the third-party apps to provide those notifications crashed more often than worked). The camera was a mixed bag in the reviews. It’s only a 1.9 megapixel shooter that does not work well in lower-light situations, and can only record 15-second video clips. One of the final nails in the coffin: when asked about future changes to the firmware and software to allow true compatibility with Gmail, Google+, and third-party applications like Facebook and Twitter, Samsung was apparently saying that they had no immediate plans to address these issues.
With each new review I read, I became more upset with myself for making the purchase without reading the reviews first. When I read that the camera, built into the front of the wristband, scratches and scuffs easily, my decision was simple. The Gear arrived on Wednesday afternoon. I opened the box, looked at the smartwatch, and put it back in the box to be returned to Verizon. As much as I wanted to take it with me to Vegas and give it a try, I didn’t want to risk that my klutziness would damage the watch beyond the point of being able to return it. Without support for Gmail and Facebook (Twitter not as big of a deal), $300 was a lot of money to spend on a device with very limited use for me.
Won’t be buying another tech product anytime soon without reading a ton of reviews first. As for the Galaxy Gear–if you don’t use Google apps, Facebook, or Twitter often, and have an extra $300 to blow, give it a shot. Otherwise, I’ll repeat what almost every review ended with: wait until the next generation.