Saturday, July 19, 2014

Samsung Gear 2 Neo review: useful and natural tech for a decent price

I've spent a few days now with my new Samsung Gear 2 Neo. Opening my little brown box from Amazon had me smiling and wide-eyed as I held the even smaller faux bamboo box that held my Gear 2 Neo safely inside it. Now, I'm still just as happy to have it and I've found that the little orange watch on my wrist is the perfect companion for my Galaxy S4. 

You can customize it to look like the Pip-Boy 3000 from Fallout 3!


The Gear 2 Neo has a small, square screen with a 1.65 inch diagonal measurement. The AMOLED screen has six brightness settings, with setting 6 to be Outdoor Mode, though on a cloudy day 4 or 5 will do you fine. The plastic-y material may turn some people away, but it feels just fine on my wrist; I felt better about wearing the Gear 2 Neo than I have any traditional watch because it just feels so wonderful on my skin. Maybe I'm weird. Actually strike that. I am weird. 

                                                                     Very comfortable!
  You need to use this pin here to make sure the watch doesn't slip.
Samsung went minimal on branding.

The square screen did take some adjusting to as far as wearing it. After the first few hours, though, I was adjust quite well. You'll never stop feeling it on your wrist, but it doesn't really bug you. 

Aside from the watch itself, the charger and proprietary cradle have a design scheme of their own. The prong end of the charger is angled in comparison to the smooth, curved design of my S4 charger. This seems to mock the default wallpaper of the S5 and the Gear 2 devices, interestingly enough. The cradle hugs the watch tight, caressing it into a deep sleep ensuring that the watch gets the proper charge. The cradle also is colored to match the watch itself; my cradle is the same wild orange as my watch.

Here are the heart monitor and the proprietary charge pins.
Charging cradle and micro-USB end of the charger.

Features and Use

A pedometer, music player, media controller, and more all are part of the feature set of the Gear 2 Neo. I haven't used everything (yet), but the ones I have used are awesome. Some still need some work, but otherwise function very well.

Motion screen on: When you raise your wrist to check the watch, the Gear 2 Neo turns on. It works most of the time, though you usually have to be deliberate with your motion. Regardless, this is pretty handy (pun absolutely intended so stop complaining, peasant). 

Two-step unlock: this sadly needs more work. When the phone is near the watch, it will allow you to unlock without a pattern or PIN number. However, it doesn't always work, and it needs serious work on it.

Media controller: connects to the phone via Bluetooth, allowing you to play, pause, skip forward and back; and adjust volume on your wrist. However, play/pause and skip are slow to respond when you use it after starting the default music app. I've had the same problem with my Ford Focus, as sometimes the music won't start or stop when I tell it to or push the button. This is a problem with the Bluetooth signals, not the device necessarily. In any case, when it did work (a majority of the time), it worked smoothly, delayed for only about a second. 

Sleep monitor: I've been trying to see how much I toss and turn in bed, and the Gear 2 Neo says that I am asleep about 88-90% of the time I'm in bed, which seems accurate to me. The sleep monitor uses motion trackers to see how much you toss and turn in bed. I used to toss and turn in my old boxspring mattress, but my new mattress has me moving less. The Gear 2 Neo, ergo, measured my motion and said I actually got really good sleep these past few nights. Not too shabby. In sleep monitor mode, you won't receive notifications and motion screen on is turned off to conserve battery. I only used 2% of battery in sleep mode, so I could go about my day without needing to recharge. 

Calls, texts, and S Voice: using the Neo for calls and texts is actually really cool. Everyone I called said I sounded clear, and I could hear everything they said as if it were a good smartphone speaker. Texting allows you to send pre-determined texts, voice typing, or simply emoticons. I like voice typing, even if it isn't totally accurate, and using S Voice isn't too bad. It can understand me well and takes only a second or two to pull up information I request.

Agent Matthew reports for duty.

Timer: enough said, and it works perfectly.

I'll continue testing the other features as the days go on, but from what I hear, they work fairly well and are really useful.

As far as use goes, I am a heavier user, meaning I will want to cut back on power consumption. By my estimates, I can use the watch for two days without needing to recharge. Even if battery life lasts only a day, I wouldn't mind because I recharge everything overnight regardless. 

Total: 4.8/5 Stars

Pros: works excellently, bevy of useful features, good price, calls and texts

Con: Only works with Samsung Galaxy devices. 

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