05/09/2013 12:08 BST | Updated 05/09/2013 12:09 BST

Samsung Galaxy Gear Preview: Hands-On With The Big New Smartwatch (PICTURES)

The Samsung Galaxy Gear is a 1.3-inch smartwatch with a built-in camera, which will be launched globally alongside the Galaxy Note III in September for $299.

Key Features:

  • 1.63-inch Super AMOLED panel
  • 320 x 320 pixels resolution
  • 1.9-megapixel camera
  • 70 third party apps
  • 800MHz processor
  • One-day battery

The Pitch:

Samsung GALAXY Gear lets users to live in the moment while staying connected to their Samsung GALAXY devices. It notifies users of incoming messages, such as calls, texts, emails and alerts, delivers a preview of those messages and creates the opportunity for users to accept or discreetly ignore those messages.

Photo gallery Galaxy Gear See Gallery


Samsung Gear

The Samsung Galaxy Gear isn't the world's first smart watch - and it probably isn't the first smart watch that we'd encourage everyone to go out and buy.

But it is an intriguing step in the right direction, which with a bit more software polish could be the start of a big new future for wearable computing.

The one thing you won't mistake the Gear for is an actual watch. It is obvious at first glance that the Gear is a tech product, and while the 320x320 pixels screen is very decent for the size, the viewing angles and resolution aren't enough to make it look like anything other than a digital display.

The look of the Gear is also likely to divide opinion. It feels a little plastic and unrefined, and the metallic clasp isn't tremendously convincing. We tested the gold version, which is pretty… loud. But it's much more impressive and tasteful in silver.

The Gear is simple to turn on, with just a single button on the side to bring up the clock display, and a single swipe to get to the menu which includes apps, camera, contacts, a pedometer, options and other functions. What's less intuitive is navigating into and out of those menus. Swiping back or down seems to do the trick in most instances if you want to return to a previous screen, but frequently we ended up just pressing the home button and starting again.

One nice surprise was the camera. We found the angle of the lens perfect for shooting while looking down at the display, and on the small screen at least the results were crisp and quite impressive for such a small device. Media playback, calling and other core functions also worked as you would expect, and a quick breeze through the phone-based app gave us no problems.

As you'd imagine, however, we didn't come away with any definite conclusions about the device.

It's impressive - it definitely works, and it justifies itself with high-levels of functionality, hardware quality and subtle adjustments to the new form factor. But neither is it that surprising or delightful to use.

In our view we can't see it winning any arguments with anyone who doesn't already want to wear (or, rather, pay $299 for) a smart watch - and that might be a pretty big problem. On the other hand, though, this really is something new. It's a device you'll have to live with to understand - and learn to love, or not.