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Will Samsung's Gear Live Change Your Opinion On Smartwatches?

Google recently released Android Wear, their new platform for wearables that currently has only three devices running it. The first two to be released were the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live. Within the last couple days the Motorola Moto 360 was released for sale. These are the first generation of Google powered smart watches.

Samsung’s Gear Live offering is a nice piece with a few nice features. The body of the watch has a metal housing with a plastic back that incorporates an optical heart rate monitor and the charging contacts. The charger is essentially a backpack that hugs the contacts on the underside of the watch. The watchband is 22mm straps made of nice feeling plastic that has a metal tip that buttons into the band’s holes. This part is user replaceable and the securing method doesn’t seem as a buckle would be.

The interface for Android Wear is made up of cards, just like Google Now. It essentially will show you everything on the watch that would normally show up in your notification area on Android. Some like Google’s own apps will have nice cards, while others are really just the text from the notification. Using the interface is mostly swiping cards to close or expand them and move through the cards. Currently, there are not too many decent apps that can be found in the Play Store. The Navigation app’s tiles are by far some of the best uses of the watch. While driving there is no need to keep looking at your phone and the next directions will be fed to new tiles that are alerted by vibrating. Using it while going on a road trip to a new area was very pleasant since more time was spent watching traffic than down at the phone’s screen.

The Gear Live is IP67 certified for dust and water resistance, this equates to it is dust tight and withstanding immersion in 1m for a duration of 30m. It will be just fine in the shower, but probably not something that should be taken to the pool. The heart rate monitor and pedometer are not too accurate and should be used as a best guess for the info they provide. The battery is very small at 300mAh and can only last for a day of use. The display is a brilliantly vivid Super AMOLED touchscreen though does have the shortcoming in this design of having no ambient light sensor. The display will dim and then wake (brighten) when the wrist is rotated to view the watch face, but many times this had to be done upwards of 4 or more times to get a response. The voice commands are the same as Google Now, as it uses that app on the phone to complete everything.

Is it worth it?

Coming in at $200 this makes it an attractive price for such a gadget, though with the glaring drawbacks that this has it may be advisable to wait for the next generation. The fact that this has only a days worth of battery is the biggest drawback since you will need to charge it often, unlike the Qualcomm Toq. Having this rely on a constant Bluetooth connection means that it will drain your phone’s battery as long as it is connected. Overall, this is a great start, but there are many reasons to check what is on the horizon of Android Wear before deciding on the Gear Live.