We were at the Dublin launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Gear last night. The event was a very swish, very well run affair, with media people, people from social and a few famous people too.
We were all there to see the launch of Samsung’s two new products, the Note 3 and the Galaxy Gear. We got the whole demo of both devices and both are very well made and do genuinely look very nice. Of course we also had some hands on time with each device and our initial impressions are a little mixed.
The Note 3 has a 5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED screen which does provide a stunning canvas for the Android system. The larger screen has allowed Samsung to implement what they call ‘Multi Window’ which allows the screen to show two open applications at once. For example if you are in a new message, you can split the window between the message and the gallery, so message on top and gallery on the bottom. From this you can then use the S Pen to just drag the required photo into the message. This works, and initially you think this is great, but I can’t help feeling one might get a bit tired of it, its quicker to share a picture straight from the gallery itself.
The specifications on the Note 3 are pretty much the best out there right now coming with 3GB of RAM. Equipped with a 13-megapixel rear camera with Smart Stabilisation and high CRI LED flash, this capable camera is very full featured. LTE is on board too which is great seeing as 4G just launched the other week in Ireland.
- LTE 2.3 GHz Quad-Core Processor
- 3G 1.9 GHz Octa Core Processor ( A15 1.9 GHz + A7 1.3 GHz)
- Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean)
- 32GB User memory ＋ microSD slot (up to 64GB), 3GB RAM
Despite these amazing specs, I really struggled to see a vast difference between it and the Note 2 or S4. This being said, while the everyday user may not see a massive speed improment the device is future proofed to quite an extent.
We also got to experience the Galaxy Gear companion device which is intended to compliment your experience with the Note 3 and soon other devices. However here is the problem, people think this is a smart watch, it’s not, lets get that out of the way first thing. The idea behind the Galaxy Gear is that it will augment your time with the Note 3, for example it will display notifications, weather, the time of course too. So you will not need to take your phone out of your pocket, that is unless you want to read the full message.
Our limited hands on time with the Gear let us feel its build quality which is very good, its solid and fits well. However at €349 it is a very expensive ‘companion’ device to buy, more over people using other Android devices such as Sony Xperia’s will not be able to use it. It is a big ask for someone who has a Z1 to give it up and buy a Note 3 just to be able to use the Gear. What Samsung has done here is a slight mistake, they have made an open Android system become proprietary by not allowing other manufacturers to hook into their device.
The built-in speaker allows users to conduct hands-free calls directly from the Gear. It has a 1.9MP camera that sits on the front facing strap and this looks like a potentially very cool spy cam. It will take up to 15 seconds of video and up to 50 images. Images will not transfer after each one is taken, you will have to manually move them to the phone. However once the limit of 50 is reached the Gear will automatically send them to the phone.
I found the Gear quite limited, and a little bit unresponsive, its specs are quite modest considering the cost of the device. It has an 800 MHz processor, Bluetooth® v 4.0 + BLE, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, 4GB Internal memory and 512MB RAM. I found that flicking between windows just that little bit sluggish, with sometimes a 1 second delay.
My thoughts above as stated are based on limited time with both the Note 3 and the Galaxy Gear and I am not sold on the Galaxy Gear, not yet, not in its current incarnation.
The Note 3 is a beautiful device, despite a lot plastic it feels solid and has a good weight to it unlike previous versions of the Note. I would like to see Samsung discounting the Galaxy Gear to €100 for people who are buying a Note 3, I think this would help get it off the ground.
We should have some demo units at ITB within the next week to give them a good testing, where hopefully any doubts mentioned above will disappear.