The obvious big distinction between Galaxy Gear and the rest of the smartphone market is the inclusion of a camera module with auto focus in the wrist band. Initially I thought this would be something terrible and a novelty at best, but the Gear actually produces surprisingly decent photos considering its size and resolution (just 1392x1392 square). The module does stick out of the wrist band a notable amount, and I’d be concerned about longevity over the course of the Gear, as I normally hit my wrist on things during the course of a normal day, but it does work.

The camera interface on Gear is very simple, just tap to focus and capture anywhere, and the capture routine runs. I've included a number of photos of the interface in the hardware gallery starting here. At the top left is a switcher between stills and video, and top right gives you shortcuts to imaging settings, including between a 1:1 and 4:3 mode for the still camera (1:1 gives you the full sensor area it seems), and focus mode (auto or macro). In video mode you can select between 1:1 and 16:9 video resolution settings, which work out to 640x640 or 720p respectively. I’ve made copies of the video samples I took at the bench location available both on YouTube as shown below and on our own servers zipped up, both 720p and 640 square.

You can record a maximum of 15 seconds of video at a time, and store a maximum of 50 images and videos on the Gear at one time. There’s also no ability to disable the camera shutter sounds, which is probably a good thing considering its potential for creepshots, but the speaker at the bottom is easily silenced with a finger.

It’s kind of amazing to be able to get anything out of a camera that fits into the strap of a watch, so I won’t complain about imaging quality a whole lot. Again I’m impressed at what comes out of a camera that fits into this form factor. Also shooting from the wrist often means shooting from waist level, which means different perspective that forces you into taking some shots you wouldn't take otherwise. I'm a fan of wearables with camera if nothing else because they force me to take photos that aren't eye level, and those different heights and positions are where some of the most interesting or out of the ordinary photos are photographed from. I guess the Gear could also be perfect for corporate espionage, at least until more people start recognizing the fact that there's a camera on your watch, but I digress.

My only concerns with the Gear are really just interface related – I took a lot of photos on accident since the swipe down gesture used for back also will get you to the camera and take a photo, literally every road leads to taking a photo in the Gear interface with that back swipe. The other issue is that getting the images off of Gear is cumbersome, you have to transfer them through the gallery to the attached phone, and then delete them all to get around that 50 photo or video maximum each time.

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  • OddlyShapedTree - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    That is what I thought, but I meant the whole smart watch thing when I said this. If you are charging $300 for a smart watch its functions better outweigh the looks of an equally priced watch. I don't think Samsung, or anyone for that matter, has displayed knowledge of this. I think Apple might win the Smart Watch war due to this:
    They will probably make their iWatch a closed source and only allow it to work with other iOS devices, this would lock people into having to buy their product to still use the watch they bought. If Samsung or anyone else implements this and makes it available to be used with non first-party tech then they might lose potential sales.
  • steven75 - Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - link

    You mean like how the Gear only works so far with two Samsung devices?
  • OddlyShapedTree - Thursday, October 3, 2013 - link

    They have said they plan on making it work with other devices, just not so tightly.
  • bleh0 - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    none of the currently available smartwatches seem all that useful right now.
  • nerd1 - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    It seems that samsung got really lazy and just recycled their android experiences so far into a watch form factor. Of course that would hugely decrease the development cost and time, but 5 hours on time for watch?

    But considering that even a basic Nike Fuelband costs $149 or more, this one doesn't look THAT expensive though.
  • hwoalang - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    watch should be water proof.

    we wash hands all the time. it's must!!!!

    i have feeling a lot of users will have liquid damage issue.
  • brshoemak - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    Apple's smartwatch should be fine then, I heard iOS 7 waterproofs your device, ;)
  • fri2219 - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    How exactly is something that large even considered wearable by anyone who doesn't normally walk with arm weights or protect the blindside of NFL Quarterbacks?

    It looks like some lame gag from an 1980's comedy with Yakov Smirnoff: "In Soviet Russia, Watch Wears You!".
  • Graag - Thursday, October 3, 2013 - link

    This. I mean, do they even want to sell these to *women?*
  • tech4tac - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    There are a number of improvements I'd wished they implement before I'd consider a smartwatch:
    1) Transparent e ink display layered on top of always-on watch functionality.
    2) Detachable face for easy charging (maybe even wireless charging) & possible use as the "core" to function as a nerve center for a display, turning it into a full phone of tablet. Always have your data on your wrist everywhere you go.
    3) A custom SOC (A7?) for better battery life. If you're going to be in the wearable electronics business, might as well create one to use across your entire line. This is just plain LAZY on Samsung's part.
    4) Precision laser beam & a rotating diamond saw face in case I ever need to escape from world-conquering-mad-scientist.
    5) Damn it, make it pretty! Hopefully well get to see creative uses of bendable displays sooner rather than later.

    OK, I'm not entirely unreasonable... just give me 4 of the 5 and I'm in.

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