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CIO - At last week Samsung's "Unpacked Episode II" event in New York City's Times Square, the company announced three new products: The Galaxy Note 3 smartphone; the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) tablet, and the most unique and notable new gadget, the Galaxy Gear smartwatch.
I spent some time with all three gadgets following a quick performance by popular duo Icona Pop (FYI, they don't care, they love it) and a mostly unsuccessful broadcast of Samsung's IFA event in Germany (the press event in New York lost both audio and video just as the Gear was being announced.)
Neither the Note 3 nor Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) wowed me; each device has some cool new features, but I mostly saw more of the same Galaxy gestures that I will never use. The Gear smartwatch grabbed my attention, though. Unfortunately, it was for all the wrong reasons.
Here are seven reasons why you should not buy Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch, along with two reasons to help justify a purchase.
Why You Should Not Buy Samsung's Galaxy Gear Smartwatch
1) Galaxy Gear is a 'Companion Gadget' That Only Works with the Note 3
The most obvious reason to skip the Galaxy Gear smartwatch is that it's a "companion gadget" that's mostly useless without a smartphone to connect to via Bluetooth. The whole point of the Gear is to bring your smartphone's messaging, PIM and other appropriate apps to your wrist so you don't have to fiddle with your device all the time. (The term "companion gadget" reminds me of how BlackBerry, then RIM, first described its PlayBook tablet. We all know how that worked out.)
Not only do you need a smartphone to get the most of Gear, at this point Galaxy Gear only works with Samsung's latest Note smartphone, the Note 3. I asked the Samsung representative at the Unpacked event when additional support for other phones would be added, and though he hinted that such support would eventually become available, he would not specify which additional devices will work with the Gear smartwatch in the future or whether support would be restricted to only Samsung Galaxy devices.
2) The Galaxy Gear and Note 3 Bundle is Expensive
If you want to use the Galaxy Gear as intended, you need to drop around $300 for a new phone; you probably need to sign a new wireless contract to get a subsidized Note 3; and then you need to pay another $300 for the Gear watch itself. That's $600 or more to get your mitts on the Gear and the Note 3 you'll need to use it.
In the United States, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon have all announced plans to sell the Note 3 and Gear, so it should be widely available. But $600 is a whole lot of scratch to drop on a brand new device that's largely untested by anyone outside of Samsung.
3) Galaxy Gear Specs Aren't Impressive
Samsung's official list of technical specifications for the Galaxy Gear is a small one, consisting mostly of processor, display resolution, internal storage, and size and weight numbers. The specs it did release aren't exactly impressive, especially for the price.