Samsung smartwatch: the latest thing or a little too 'Dick Tracy'?
Korean company boss says it'll become a fashion icon worldwide, but some critics say it's just too retro
SAMSUNG'S new Galaxy Gear smartwatch has been dubbed the "modern-day Dick Tracy watch" - but not all critics are convinced this is a desirable look.
The Gear is not a phone in its own right - it is an accessory that connects to a mobile phone via Bluetooth. It allows users to preview incoming calls and texts, make hands-free calls, take low-resolution photographs and control music from their phone. It has a 1.63-inch bright touchscreen display, six coloured straps to choose from and a slick stainless steel frame. It also tells the time.
Samsung's CEO, JK Shin, believes it will become a "fashion icon" around the world.
"Light, sleek and highly tactile, the touchscreen is super-responsive," says tech writer David Phelan in The Independent. "The camera is nimble and effective. When you're wearing it, it suddenly makes sense: it is alluring, comfortable and enjoyable."
Writing for The Verge, Vlad Savov says it is "quite unlike anything you've seen before". It's feature-rich, with an impressive number of compatible apps, he says, and if you "think of it as a toy and a fun accessory, it can definitely be enjoyed".
Other critics do not agree. "Social inadequate. That's the 'look' you'll be buying into if you strap Samsung's new smartwatch onto your wrist," says Mic Wright, the Daily Telegraph's chief tech blogger.
Wearing a smartwatch, he says, is "like pulling on a slogan T-shirt that reads: 'I have no sex life'."
Other critics have complained that it is slow, has a very limited battery life and can only work with Samsung mobile phones. The UK release date and price have not yet been confirmed but many believe it will cost hundreds of pounds.
"It just looks a little bit too back to the future," says Andy Blackmore for Metro. "In the '80s I would have sold precious back-issues of Warlord Comics or Airfix magazines to get such styling in a digital watch. I'm not sure that over 30 years later I want to stump up $299 for a smartwatch that looks like a Texas Instruments Alarm Chronograph, circa 1981."
But while many people might not aspire to the style of Dick Tracy right now, Jason Jenkins, editor of CNET UK, thinks we'll soon be thinking differently. "You don't need Samsung's smartwatch," he says, "but in a year or two we'll all have something like it." ·