The Galaxy Gear S - The Evolution of the Smartwatch to a stand alone

I've had fitness bands, smart watches that connect to my phone and currently rock a Gear Fit which is a fitness band that connect to my phone for notifications and media control. The next step is the smart watch with it's own chip and I'm trying out the Gear S paired with a Note 4. First impression - this is HUGE; twice the size of the Gear Fit.

The Gear S has been out couple months and my tech budget this year is for a wearable. Should it be android wear or a stand alone device? The Gear S is my first chance to see if a standalone fits into my lifestyle and as a bonus I get to try out the Note 4 which is much larger than the Z3Compact I'm currently using. and the Gear S seems almost as large as the Z3C!

Once the Gear S has been set up, you don't need the Samsung phone. Messages and notifications showed up through the SIM. I used S Voice to phone home as a demo then got a call back because I hung up too quickly. Very Dick Tracy (and inhibiting) to be talking to your wrist in a gym. Call quality was clear on both ends though.

S Voice is pretty accurate as long as you are in a low noise environment. For loud spaces you can use a screen keypad to dial a number and the keyboard is quite accurate if you want to swipe a text or note. I've changed the S voice launch word to "Question" and the response is pretty consistent. It does a good job of guessing what you're asking - I did a search for chia as an egg substitute with a lot of barking going on in the background and it came back with a reasonable (but wrong as it was not familiar with chia) search request. It's using Yahoo/Wolfram for the search engine. I also had to speak very close to the watch at the gym but in quiet suroundings it works well. It would not initiate a call while I was driving - which is a good thing.

Day Zero (ok evening) - DH has a real hate on for his Z3C and by extension mine. He loved the look of the watch and the things it could do. He actually wanted me to go buy one right then. I thought I should wait until I actually use it.

Took it to exercise class. Very accurate for heart rate and it let me know when I was in the zone for my age and as comfortable to wear as my Gear Fit. I showed it to a couple people (one guy who knew what it was and one gal who didn't) after class and they were really impressed with the screen and the stuff it does. I then stopped and showed another couple of friends - one the class instructor. While I stumbled through a demo I learned a lot and Samsung gained a potential buyer who currently uses a flip phone!

The battery drains pretty quickly with a lot of use but you can use it while it's charging. 15 minutes of charging bumped up the battery from 35% to 42% which kept it going to the end of the day. While I used it during the week, battery life was most challenged when I wore it during class.

I connected it to the car. OK this is cool, it connects to the Macan as if it's a regular phone. Nice! Plays music that's stored on the Gear through the vehicle sound system. Calling out didn't work for me, but answering worked like a dream and call quality was the same as for my phone.

Speaker quality is reasonable for a watch and actually would be ok if you had a office. You can play music stored on the Gear or from your phone. To put music on, I just connected it to my computer but there are apps for transfering music. I used it while doing some kitchen stuff and sound quality was about what you would expect.

I used the Gear S to track a walk and I could see it being really useful if you were training. At the end of the exercise session it shows not only your time and heartrate but a graph of your intensity. The screen was large enough to be able to read clearly. The battery lasted a lot better but I would charge nightly.

I don't use my phone at work very much so this was more of a test for battery life. I will be taking it to the gym though. After a day, of mostly step counting and standy by I was still at 70% and after an exercise class I was close to 50%. Ran into the two friends I had demoed it to on Saturday and mentioned I had found the keyboard. They had found it intriguing enough that they went home Saturday and googled it, the friend with the flip phone would make the jump if this was a stand alone for sure.

Some days you just want to text, check email and read a feed. I will miss being able to take just take my license and car key on quick jaunts. The Gear S is really comfortable even when doing push ups. It would be a no brainer to purchase if this was a stand alone product, could pair with any Android phone or a Samsung tablet. If you have a Samsung phone and are considering a wearable, make sure to look at this one.