The Gear is a neat device and certainly proves that wearable technology is worth investigating, but it is decidedly first-generation. The watch is bulky, and while Samsung has made a sincere effort to make it aesthetically pleasing by offering it in a variety of colors and watch faces, it looks clunky on most wrists.
As for function, Samsung has done a fairly good job with displaying notifications to the device, though it predictably has done better with its own apps than with those from other companies. The phone’s default e-mail app, for example, will show you a small snippet of incoming e-mails before suggesting you finish reading on your phone. A notification from Gmail or Google Hangouts, on the other hand, directs you to the phone for information. Text messages are the easiest to read on the watch’s small screen and can be dictated by double-tapping the watch’s only physical button.
The voice recognition on the watch, like the phone, is fairly good, even with unusual contact names. That’s a necessity for the watch, because the Gear’s screen real estate simply doesn’t allow for an on-screen keyboard. Even the dial pad on the watch, for outgoing calls, can be difficult to hit accurately. In most cases, users are better off using their voices, even for dialing.
If you opt to take a call on the watch, which houses the speaker and microphone on the wrist clasp, the sound quality is reasonably good, though positioning your arm can be a bit difficult. Talking with the watch is best while sitting down in a quiet room, when you can prop your arm up on something like the arm of a couch for an extended period of time. In public, talking into your sleeve may be fun for playing spy, but not for long periods. In those cases, using the phone is probably the better option.
The Note’s size makes it awkward for long talks. Holding the phone up to one’s face is not comfortable, and certainly not for long periods of time — something that’s been true of the rest of the Note line. These phone-tablet hybrids have always worked better on speakerphone or with a headset for long conversations, and the latest addition is no different.