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5 Galaxy Gear features to consider before you dismiss it as ‘too geeky’

Check out our review of the Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch.

As we’ve already seen from the dozens of smartwatches and smartglasses coming out (and even appearing on the fashion runway), wearable tech is finally making the transition from geeky niche to a mainstream trend. Or tech companies want it to, anyway.

Samsung just got into the game on Wednesday by unveiling the Galaxy Gear smartwatch at IFA 2013 in Berlin. With a gorgeous 1.63-inch OLED screen, 4GB of storage and a 800MHz CPU in a package the size of a watch, it’s certainly a technological marvel. But would you actually wear a giant screen on your wrist?

Don’t count it out just yet. Here are five killer features of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear that may have even skeptical fashionistas holding their eye rolls.

1. A secondary screen for your phone

The Galaxy Gear is designed to be a companion for your Samsung Galaxy smartphone. It serves as a secondary screen that can display incoming notifications including calls, text messages, emails, and social-media posts. You’ll see a preview of the incoming message on your Galaxy Gear smartwatch, and you can choose whether to ignore it or grab your Galaxy smartphone and take a closer look. The Smart Relay feature ensures that the full content will automatically be ready and waiting for you on your connected Galaxy device.

2. Voice control

The Galaxy Gear enables you to make and receive hands-free calls, thanks to the inclusion of two microphones (with noise cancellation) and a speaker. All you need to do is raise it to your face to speak. It hooks up using Bluetooth and a special app that you’ll need to install on your smartphone. You can also use it to record voice memos, but more impressively, you have the option of using S Voice to draft messages, create calendar entries, check the weather, or set alarms. S Voice is Samsung’s alternative to Google Now.

Samsung Galaxy Gear

3. A camera at the ready

The feature Samsung calls ‘Memographer’ is basically a camera in the strap. It’s a 1.9-megapixel camera, which allows you to capture photos and record video hands-free. Videos can be up to 10 seconds in length at 720p quality. You can also share them directly from the watch to your social-media accounts. The big selling point is the ease and speed of use. You can just swipe down to capture a moment, which should be much faster than fishing a phone out of your pocket. The camera also features auto-focus, and anyone worried about sneaky snaps can relax, because there’s a shutter sound that can’t be turned off.

4. Smartphone security

The fact that the Gear is connected to your Galaxy smartphone or tablet means it can also be used to find your device. For security, you can also set it up to automatically lock your phone as soon as the watch moves more than 1.5 meters away. There’s even a safety assistance feature in case of emergency, which notifies saved contacts with a prewritten message and your location when you press the power button three times continuously.

5. Fitness tracking

The Galaxy Gear has a built-in pedometer app, which can track your physical activity and compile data from your workouts on calories burned and the distance you’ve covered. Apps like MyFitnessPal and Runkeeper are poised to leverage this data, too.

Don’t forget the app ecosystem

These are just the features the Galaxy Gear will ship with, but like any good “smart” device, apps will make future possibilities limitless. Around 70 apps, including Evernote, eBay, Glympse, TripIt, Pocket, Banjo, and Path should be available at launch, and that number will no doubt grow as more developers get on board. They will be exclusively available in the Samsung app store.

Tempted? The Galaxy Gear will be available from September 25 in many countries, or October in the United States, where it will sell for $299.

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