Technology is an interesting thing; It can simultaneously make our lives easier and be a complete pain in the neck. In order for technology to be successful, it has to be more of the former and less of the later.
Take the Galaxy S5 or one of its contemporaries. It has a large and wonderful 5.1Ē display. Its large size is fantastic for reading emails, browsing the web, gaming and just about everything else. The trade off is that the large display means you really have to use it with both hands to get the most out of it plus itís not quite as pocket-able as a smaller phone.
However, for many, the large screen outweighs the usability and portability penalty and so the GS5 is a great and successful product.
With that in mind, what trade offs do wearable technology have?
Samsung sent me their Galaxy Gear 2 Neo and Galaxy Gear Fit to find out.
The Gear 2 Neo is a smartwatch with a large display while the Gear Fit is more of a fitness band with a small screen. Iíll talk about the Fit in a later review.
Samsung Gear 2 Neo:
Big S currently has 2 smartwatches on the market. The Galaxy Gear 2 and the Galaxy Gear 2 Neo. The big difference between them is that the Gear 2 is metal and has a camera while the Neo doesnít.
In terms of hardware, you get a dual-core 1Ghz Exynos 3250 processor, 512MB RAM, a 1.63Ē 320x320 display, 4GB of storage and a 300mAh battery. The bottom of the Neo has an optical heart rate sensor.
Unlike the original Galaxy Gear, the Gear Neo runs Samsung Tizen operating system. Some users donít like that itís not running Android but if youíre just going to use the Neo as a smartwatch then I donít really think this is important. It has a custom UI so even if it did run Android youíd never know it.
As far as software UI goes, the Gear looks fine. My only complaint is that the timer, stopwatch and some settings donít really match the rest of the phone.
Smartwatches are a lot like Smartphones. However, when it comes to form factor, they have very different limitations. On a phone, customers donít mind if you put a large screen on it. However, a watch often has to double as a fashion accessory, so in addition to being smart, it has to look sleek too. It also has to look good on your wrist.
Unfortunately, thatís the worst thing about the Neo. While I wouldnít go as far to say that itís hideously ugly, itís not exactly a looker either. It looks clunky (in a bad way) and kind of cheap. You could say itís a butter face.
Still, it looks a lot nicer than the first Galaxy Gear because the Neo lacks its camera bulge.
The wrist band closes with a clasp so you donít have to thread the band each time you want to put it on or take it off. There are a lot of adjustments - too many in fact. The bandís smallest settings are able to fit a baby!
The clasp itself wiggles around a little so you may find it slightly cheap feeling if you wiggle it around. Fortunately, most people wonít do that once itís on.
Looks aside, the Neo does have some redeeming qualities. When you turn it on, it has an incredible looking Super AMOLED display. Samsung has really cranked up the contrast and saturation on this one so it really pops. Heck, the display is so good that once itís on, you quickly forget about how the rest of the watch looks.
While I wasnít trying to show it off, quite a few people noticed that I was wearing the Neo and were very intrigued by it. Iím sure a lot of the attention was caused by the display.
So far, the glass on the face of the watch has held up to 2 weeks of day-to-day usage. While Iím not going out of my way to abuse the Neo, Iím not trying to be extra careful with it either. Off the top of my head, I took it on the train, to the amusement park on various rides, barbecued a few times, fixed my toilet and washed my cars while wearing it. So far there are no scratches on it or the plastic body.
The only real problem I have with the display is that thereís no auto brightness feature. You either have to set it at maximum if you want to see it outdoors and thus be blinded whenever you look at it in the dark, or set it so that you can see it in the dark and have it wash out in outdoors. There are actually 6 different brightness levels but I couldnít fine one I was really happy with all the time.
Another thing is that in order to save battery life, the Neoís display is normally off. When you lift your hand up and turn your wrist towards you, it turns on. Occasionally it gets fooled and turns on when your arms are at your side. This is kind of annoying in the dark.
I donít have the original Gear around to compare with but the Neo seems thinner which helps make it more sleek.
In order to use the Neo with your phone, you MUST have a compatible Samsung device. The list is basically most Samsung Galaxy phones which are GS3 or newer.
I donít know about you, but the Neo only working with Samsung devices is reason enough for me to not to recommend the Neo to anyone. What if your next phone isnít a Samsung? After all, Samsung isnít the only company that makes great phones.