الاثنين، 24 فبراير 2014

MWC 2014 : Samsung's wrist reboot: Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo unveiled

Samsung has decided that even though the first Galaxy Gear launched just a few months ago, it's time for a new version - and on top of that, a cut down option as well.

Update: Samsung has removed the 'Galaxy' part of the new smartwatches' moniker, presumably as it's running Tizen rather than Android. At least it's made our headlines look a little cleaner.

They've arrived in the shape of the Samsung Gear 2 and the Samsung Gear 2 Neo - and come with some nifty technology that actually looks like it might give them a chance of being more impressive at launch.

Let's start with the differences though - and design aside (as you can see in the picture above) there's not a lot of change between the Neo and standard versions.

The Neo basically is shorn of the 2MP camera which (still) adorns the main version of Samsung's smartwatch, and is a little larger in dimensions but lower in weight (Gear 2 : 36.9 x 58.4x 10.0 mm, 68g, Gear 2 Neo : 37.9 x 58.8 x 10.0mm, 55g).

For the rest of it, the two are identical. And the biggest surprise of the lot: they're both running Tizen instead of Android, which seems to have dramatically improved battery life, with Samsung claiming 2-3 days (or up to six if you don't use the watch very much) compared to the 25 hours it previously quoted.

    Tizen: The operating system that could thwart Android?

Samsung is touting this Tizen integration as allowing the watches to connect to a wider range of devices, which could mean TVs in the near future. This will certainly be helped by the fact both come with an infra-red blaster, which means you can control your telly as well as hark back to the nostalgic days of digital watches that could do the same thing.

However, some things are staying the same. The screen is still a Super AMOLED option, with a 1.63-inch display powering 320 x 320 pixels. Given this was enough for us last time, we're fine with it being the same here - and there's now an extra home button to make it easier to return to the main screen.

And finally - can you smell the fear of the incoming iWatch? Samsung certainly is emanating some worried pheromones at the rumours of Apple's fitness band / smartwatch, as the new Gear 2 and Neo can track your heartrate with the inbuilt optical sensor. On top of that you've got a range of exercise modes, a plethora of exercise apps on offer from launch and a sleep monitor too - although it begs the question of when you'd actually charge the thing.

There will be loads of colours to choose from, and there's 4GB of internal memory to go with the 512MB of RAM (which is combined with the upgraded 1GHz dual core processor) to keep things ticking along much better than before.

We've sadly not got word on price yet, but the new watches will be available from April around the world - given we're guessing they're going to be sold as a bundle with the Galaxy S5, we'd bet that's the date of the release of that handset too
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