Review: Evolutionary advances in new smartwatches

Jul 03 2014, 11:20 IST
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New Android wristwatches from Samsung and LG make a few evolutionary advances, though I won't be rushing out to buy either. New Android wristwatches from Samsung and LG make a few evolutionary advances, though I won't be rushing out to buy either.
SummaryNew Android wristwatches from Samsung and LG make a few evolutionary advances, though I won't be rushing out to buy either.

2 Neo both require a Samsung phone.

Samsung's Gear Live ($199, starts shipping next week):

Out of the box, the Gear Live looks much like the Gear 2. But once you turn it on, it stays on. The watch face doesn't go dark as the one on the Gear 2 does after inactivity.

Unfortunately, the promised battery life is back down to a single day, though actual performance varied depending on use. The best I got was a day and a half on a full charge. In the worst case, about half the charge was gone in just five hours.

The Gear Live doesn't have as many fitness features. You can count steps and measure heart rate, but you can't measure distance or calories with built-in apps.

In addition, there's no camera or speakerphone. To make calls, you need a Bluetooth headset paired to your phone.

Because the Gear Live and the G Watch both use Android Wear, they have similar functionality. You control both mostly by voice. There aren't many icons or buttons on the screen, as you'd find on previous smartwatches.

You do have to get used to swiping left (for more information) or right (to dismiss a notification). But otherwise, the interface is clean and simple. One thing I wish for: a central place to view notifications, including ones I've dismissed.

LG's G Watch ($229, starts shipping Thursday):

LG is hoping to make its watch easier to use by making it without a physical button. It's not really needed when voice control is so prominent, and I've used the Gear Live's physical button only as a fallback for when I couldn't figure out how to do something.

The LG watch has about a third more battery capacity than Samsung's, but both watches lasted about the same amount of time in my tests.

The resolution and colors on LG's always-on screen aren't as good as they are on Samsung's, though LG's notifications use larger type and are easier to read.

The G Watch can count steps but doesn't have a heart rate sensor - the biggest way it differs from the Gear Live. The G Watch doesn't have a camera or speakerphone either.

The G Watch's strap feels rubbery, but it's replaceable with any standard 22-millimeter watch strap. The hard-plastic feel on Samsung's watches isn't much better, but you can replace their straps, too.

Motorola plans to come out with the

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