الاثنين، 24 فبراير 2014

WMC 2014: Samsung Gear Fit review

Samsung is betting big on fitness in wearables being a big deal in the next few years, and as such is releasing a number of products to appeal to a number of market segments.

Those not enamoured with the Gear 2 or Gear 2 Neo can opt for something altogether more understated: the Gear Fit.

This band is much simpler than Samsung's range of smartwatches, with its primary function being to let you track when you walk, run, cycle or hike – the latter of which Samsung seems a little obsessed with. It's surely just walking.

The big technological advancement here isn't the inbuilt heart rate sensor, nor the fact it's not running Tizen but Samsung's own proprietary wearables platform, but that it comes with a flexible OLED screen.

Gear fit review

This both looks and feel cool, although it's really disappointing that the device is covered in plastic and can't be bent and flexed – that surely would be the goal for fitness bands.

But the Gear Fit is still a cool device in its own right, coming as it does with a 1.84-inch curved screen and an inbuilt heart rate monitor to make sure your fitness efforts are on track.

Gear fit review

The single button on the top performs very few functions – its pretty much just a power key and allows you to turn the display on and off. While the battery life is quoted a 3-4 days, I'd imagine that was only when you're being vigilant and making sure you're not running the screen at every given opportunity.

The placement of this button is annoying though, as any mail with a modicum of arm hair (and likely a lot more) will find that pressing the key does yank at the follicles somewhat, which is unpleasant and can cause you to yelp in a very unmasculine fashion.

Gear fit review

The upside of using Samsung's own platform for this wearable is that it's less 'heavy' when it comes to day to day operation and facilitates that extra battery life – it could have been based on Tizen, I was told, but was changed as Samsung realised there wasn't a great need for it to integrate with the entire ecosystem.

The functions this Bluetooth 4.0 LE device can perform might be rudimentary, but they are all relevant and worthwhile. You can control media from the smartphone (with no onboard music streaming here, unlike the Gear range) and reject calls with a text message, the options for which you can set in the all new Gear Fit manager on your smartphone.

Gear fit review

The Gear Fit will be compatible with a 'wide range' of Galaxy smartphones, although Samsung wouldn't confirm which ones these would be.

With that in mind, the Fit will work as a smartwatch in that it will show you email, SMS and third party notifications and allow users who don't want to use a smartwatch to get all the same functionality.

Gear fit review

The other cool feature is the ability to set the wallpaper on the thin screen, be it from the inbuilt pictures or from the camera on your smartphone that you can crop down – meaning you can set it to match your outfit, if you're that way inclined.
Early verdict

We sadly don't know the price of the Galaxy Fit, but if it comes at a palatable cost then it could be a real winner in the fitness market.

The design is cool and quirky enough to be proud to wear it on your wrist, and the extra smartwatch-style functionality makes it a real contender in the wearables market.
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