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Review: Samsung Gear 2 Neo smartwatch

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August 31, 2014

Gizmag turns back the clock to review the Gear 2 Neo (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

Gizmag turns back the clock to review the Gear 2 Neo (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

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We reviewed Samsung's Gear 2 smartwatch when it launched in April, but we skipped its sibling, the Gear 2 Neo. With only minor differences between the two, we figured the one review could speak for both watches. Well, Samsung's smartwatch platform has grown in the last four months, so let's see how things have changed as Gizmag (finally) reviews the Samsung Gear 2 Neo.

The Samsung Gear 2 Neo is almost exactly the same watch as the Gear 2. The only differences? The Neo is missing a camera, has a plastic body (in place of stainless steel) and is US$100 cheaper.

When we reviewed the Gear 2, I thought it was a marked improvement over the Galaxy Gear, but had the same apps problem that plagued its predecessor. Namely, it had very few – and even fewer that mattered. With Android Wear (at the time) looming on the horizon, I wasn't sure if developers would give the Gear platform much love.

Four months later, has any of that changed? Well, though Samsung's Tizen platform for wearables (the software that runs on the Gear) hasn't exactly set the world on fire, it is in much better shape than it was in April.

The Fleksy keyboard messaging app is the Gear's killer app (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.co...

For starters, the Gear platform finally has a few killer apps. To me, the biggest game-changer is Fleksy (above). The keyboard app lets you type and send text messages right on your Gear, without pulling out your phone or using Samsung's slow and limited S Voice input. Typing isn't exactly ideal on a 1.63-in display, but Fleksy's unique error-correction works like a charm here.

With Fleksy, all you have to do is try to tap your fingers on the correct letters, and watch as Fleksy automatically corrects whatever gibberish you hammered out to the words you were trying to type. It isn't perfect, but, for me, it works most of the time. For such a tiny screen, that's no small feat.

Conversions+ is a simple, but nice, app that lets you perform common conversions on your w...

Developers have spawned a few other gems as well. Converter+ (above) lets you quickly make most common conversions (including distance, weight, cooking and much more) right on your wrist. Smart IR Remote gives us the advanced TV remote features that Samsung's WatchOn is missing. Hell, even weather nerds have a killer app, as Radar Watch shows you the latest Doppler radar map of your area right on your Gear.

Android Wear's app development has been active since it launched, but the Gear platform has been doing surprisingly well in its own right. Wear has much better voice input, and it also integrates more directly with Android smartphone apps. But in every other respect, I'd say the Gear's Tizen is doing at least as well, if not better. If nothing else, the platform is finally showing signs of life.

The Gear's app library may not exactly be booming, but it's doing much better than it was ...

I can't say I miss having a camera on the Gear 2 Neo. And it looks like Samsung has also realized that most people don't need a crappy 2 MP shooter on their wrists, as the company's upcoming Gear S smartwatch (yes, there's yet another new model on its way) is going to be missing a camera as well.

The Neo has an infrared (IR) blaster, so you can use it as a remote control (Photo: Will S...

The Neo's main body is made of plastic, rather than the Gear 2's stainless steel, but I don't see this as a big loss. It's a very solid (slightly rubbery-feeling) plastic, and I don't think it downgrades the premium aura of the watch. If anything, it should be more durable and less prone to scratches.

Like the Gear 2 (and several other recent Samsung products), the Neo is also water-resistant. Its IP67 rating means it can soak in 1 m (3.3 ft) of water for 30 minutes and keep on ticking.

Like all of Samsung's recent watches, the Gear 2 Neo has a heart rate sensor (Photo: Will ...

Though I'm enjoying the Gear 2 Neo more than I thought I would at this stage, I'm also not sure if this is a great time to buy it. If you're a fan of Samsung's watches, we're going to find out more about the company's forward-thinking Gear S in a few days. It has a standalone 3G connection (so it can work its mojo without a phone's help) and a spacious curved screen. If it ends up retailing for $200-300, it might be worth a look when it launches this October.

Of course we'll also be finding out more about Android Wear watches like the round-faced Moto 360 and LG G Watch R in the next week. And, oh yes, Apple is also rumored to have a little something up its sleeve on September 9. The smartwatch market is about to get a lot more interesting.

The Neo has a flat screen, but the upcoming Gear S will sport a 2-in curved display (Photo...

While the Gear 2 Neo isn't likely to be your best choice this holiday season, it does give me hope for Samsung's wearable platform. App development is better than I expected it to be and, with a few tweaks (most notably to its voice control), it could be a legit Android Wear rival.

The Samsung Gear 2 Neo is available now, still retailing for $200. For more detail on the watch, you can hit up our full Gear 2 review from back in April. And stay tuned to Gizmag this week, as we expect to spend some quality hands-on time with the upcoming Gear S.

Product page: Samsung

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About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
4 Comments

These things scare me. People texting, web surfing etc. with their smart 'phones while driving is bad enough, the idea of trying to do so with these, is much worse.

Surely, there is the need for global standards that curtail a driver's ability to use these devices while on the move. There must be ways to detect when a smart 'phone or a wearable device is within the driver's zone in any vehicle and disable it until the vehicle has come to a halt.

It would be so nice if for once the motor industry took the initiative instead of waiting until the number of body bags has reached a tipping point, forcing the politicians to step in.

Mel Tisdale
1st September, 2014 @ 04:30 am PDT

Mel Tisdale, we need to take the same approach as drunk or impaired driving, For some reason this technology being new as it is has produced a new kind of attitude that the users think they can get away with multitasking while driving? We need to make this as unacceptable as drunk driving, but I don't think the onus should be on the manufactures of this tech or the car manufactures, people can be trained but tech can always be gotten around. I would also ask how would you apply this "nanny" tech to somebody like me who drives car's that are all over 20 years old? There are more of us then you think, we don't need to be every one else's "nanny" just educate people that using this and driving isn't alright. :-)

mrhuckfin
2nd September, 2014 @ 08:20 pm PDT

Only 60 deaths have been positively linked to texting while driving. The bodies are not piling up..

http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812032.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/Distracted_Driving/

There is roughly 30,000 fatalities a year. In 2011 there were only 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver

of those roughly 300 and only 300 involved cellphone use AT all!

By comparison (we don't have 2011 numbers yet.)

In 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.1

Everyone is so misinformed on this it is amazing. The koolaid has been served and everyone is drinking it.

Most people have a place in the car they at least rest their cell phone on if not a device that puts it front and center. Second. When people actually text, call, or read anything on their cell phone they don't do i in dangerous situations. One study had drivers knocking down cones and declared that driving while texting was more dangerous than drinking and driving. When those cones are replaced with parked cars, no one, not one participant, hit any vehicle because they slowed down and they did what any normal person would do, PAID ATTENTION. They didn't text, why? Well they don't want to hit a car. Some common sense goes a long way here.

Further more roughly 420,000 accidents happen while the driver is distracted driving. of a total of 5 million accidents! Of those ~14,000 involved cellphones. That's right 14,000. Of those roughly 3,000 involved texting.. That's less than .006% of accidents in total involve texting.

How people can LIE out and out LIE about stats that are found at the CDC (links given)

http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/facts-and-statistics.html

"The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012. An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, this was a nine percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011."

http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811856.pdf

Number of fatalities in 2012: 33,561 Number by "distracted driving" : 3328 3328/33561=9.9%

It gets worse..

The number of confirmed fatalities attributed to USING A CELLPHONE and driving is ~400 or

Ted John Noga
8th November, 2014 @ 07:42 pm PST

Most of the smartwatches are already using voice-command. That's the whole point of a smart watch, so you don't have to get your phone on your bag.. and you can keep your hands free and still search on the web, view who called you, view facebook notifications etc... For driving is much better than a smartphone...you can even make a call with your watch without having to touch anything...

Fab Mika
18th November, 2014 @ 06:07 pm PST
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