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BW Businessworld

Gear Up For Fitness

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If you are craving some attention, just strap on a smartwatch — especially one like the Samsung Gear Fit. It’s got a curved, bright vibrantly- coloured screen that sits on your wrist like a bracelet and is guaranteed to turn heads and be a conversation starter. And when someone asks “What’s that you’re wearing?” you’ll find yourself stuck between wanting to say smartwatch and fitness band because the Gear Fit is trying to be both.

I could be uncharitable and say it’s succeeding at neither but I think that isn’t Samsung’s problem alone; it’s something that the new wearables that are said to be about to flood the market still have to figure out — what do you really, really need them for?

So, the Gear Fit, which will work with a couple of the most recent Samsung phones like the Galaxy S5, of course, and the Note 3, is an expensive piece of kit for something that hasn’t quite found its place yet. It’s Rs 15,550 in addition to the phone it has to pair with and have nearby to work.

The Gear Fit is mercifully not clunky or heavy. You barely feel it on your wrist. The leather strap has lots of apertures to fit any size of wrist and it’s even interchangeable. But looking at it does present a bit of a tricky situation. As you lift your wrist (and the device comes on), the angle is a little awkward. The text on it can go into portrait mode but because it’s so narrow, that too is a bit strange. All the same, it’s very clear and readable, even in sunlight.

  • 1.84 inch curved Super AMOLED Touchscreen
  • IP67 certified dust and water resistant
  • Accellerometer, Gyrososcope, heart rate sensor
  • 2 to 4 days
  • battery life
There’s a surprising number of settings to adjust the display, for something that small. There are some settings for left vs. right-handed use. As it sits on your wrist, the gadget senses when you’ve moved your hand to look at it and the screen turns itself on and then turns off when you’re done. This surely takes up some amount of battery, but it’s very convenient and frees you from fiddling with it too much.

The Gear Fit has to work with a Gear Fit Manager app which the phone will prompt you to download. Once that’s done and your devices are paired via Bluetooth or NFC, you can well… tell the time. But no, there’s a few more things you can do. You can use it to control the music on your phone; you can get notifications and messages in case you don’t feel like pulling out your phone just at that moment. You can even reply with preset messages in some cases. But you can’t extend its features beyond this as there are no apps that you can add.

As a fitness band, the Gear Fit can count your steps, tell you how peaceful your sleep was, track your exercise, and measure your heartbeat provided you keep still a moment. Commonly, people don’t find it’s that accurate, but more importantly, there isn’t much you can do with most of the information. True, you can speed up or slow down your walk or run to meet a required standard, but a fitness freak will need more in-depth analysis and highly accurate measurement.
The Gear Fit’s battery lasts two to three days depending on how much you use it and it charges by using a tiny adaptor which clamps on to allow for the micro USB slot to be used. Lose the adaptor – and that’s big trouble.

Samsung has a couple of other Gear watches as well. Overall, the Gear Fit is interesting looking but it doesn’t have a serious and really important use either on the watch or fitness side. More wearables are coming and unless you have money to spare for a toy, it’s best to wait for the next iteration. On the other hand, if you want to look cool, really cool.

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 14-07-2014)