Friday, September 26, 2014

Galaxy Gear 2 Neo and the smart watch race: the new arms race(pun intended)!

Since the days of Fossil, we haven't seen the potential in a smart watch in many years. Samsung picks up the mantle and carries it. But now that other manufactures are jumping in the race, who will be left standing?  Reset your clocks to 2007 when Apple reinvented the smartphone, and you can get a feel for where we are in the new arms race(pun intended).
After one month with the Galaxy Gear 2 NEO, I am pleased with it! Paired with a Galaxy Note 3, I am beginning to enjoy the connected life that was the promise of the new tech. At home and at work are beginning to take on different parameters as the watch offers different types of notifications and connectivity to achieve various tasks.
Let's begin with phone calls. The Bluetooth connected watch has the ability to place and receive calls without the need to reach for your connected phone. As a work application, I find it very useful to receive calls from the watch especially when in a quite setting like in a secure office or in a vehicle. Sound quality is clear and callers can hear me clearly without knowing I'm on a speakerphone on a watch. You also have the option to transfer the call to a connected Bluetooth headset or to the paired smartphone.
The calculator(downloaded) is easy to use despite the size of the keyboard, and makes computations on the fly a breeze. Having weather at a glance is a nice touch as being outdoors and wanting to know what's going on is as easy as looking at your wrist vs pulling out your phone.
My favorite app is the media player as I am avid Google music  user. I am able to pause, play, skip forward and backward through tracks all without the phone. There is also 4gig of on board storage for you to upload your own tracks to a built in mp3 player. There is also a gallery to upload your own background pics and personal photos.
Now for the downsides. Despite being very light weight and non obtrusive, the clasp tends to come undone with moderate vibration unlike a traditional watch band. This is easily corrected by replacing your band. The main draw back I see in keeping folks from plopping down the $200 for a new unit is the lack of new apps. I constantly check the Gear app store for anything new and I am often frustrated. My first choice for a smartwatch was a Pebble as it has a healthy selection of apps. This can be a deal breaker for many including myself.
Now that the Gear S was announced, I am also afraid that Samsung will simply forget this watch exists as there are already new apps including navigation that are being advertised as exclusive to the new watch. The news that many of Samsung's mobile software engineers were  reassigned to other departments doesn't look to good either.
When you consider the typical fanatical reception for the new Apple iWatch, and the warm receptions the Moto 360 and LG G watch are receiving , although I am pleased with the Neo, I am wondering if Samsung can both attract new adaptors, and service the watch's that are replaced by newer ones? Good customer experience is one of Apples strong suits, and Samsung hopefully knows that as the innovator, its dominance is threatened if it can't keep its existing customers happy.
My final verdict? The Neo is a great proof of concept watch. All around well constructed, with dust and water resistance, it is a step towards what I think the future of wearable tech is going. Keep in mind the lack of new apps, and I will say that its defiantly worth the investment as new apps are promised.