Samsung beats Apple to the punch, unveils Galaxy Gear smartwatch

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We’ve known for a while now that just about every company under the sun is making a smartwatch.

AppleMicrosoft, Google, LG … you name the manufacturer, and it probably a wrist-based computer in the works. Sometimes there’s something to be said for being first, though, and Samsung just beat out the other major mobile manufacturers. Say hello to the well-leaked, but no less intriguing, Samsung Galaxy Gear.

Wearable electronics are all about notifications, and the Galaxy Gear is no exception. Emails, text messages, calls, and other notifications will pop up on the device’s 1.63-inch, 320 x 320 display. You can read previews of those notifications right on the tiny screen. You can even use it to make voice calls (while tethered to your Samsung phone) by lifting it up towards your ear.

The Gear also has Samsung’s S Voice (think Siri, only made by Samsung) in tow. So you can do things like draft messages, set reminders, or check the weather just by speaking to your wrist. Dick Tracy would be proud.

Integration with Samsung’s Galaxy phones is key, particularly with Samsung’s Smart Relay feature. If you receive a notification on your Galaxy Gear, you can pull the Galaxy Note 3 out of your pocket, and the app that gave you the notification will already be open. Lengthy email comes in on Gear, whip out smartphone, and read rest of email. No searching for the app required.

It isn’t often that we get excited about a 1.9-megapixel camera, and perhaps we shouldn’t here either. But the convenience that you get (and perhaps the intrusiveness that others get) from having a camera on your wrist makes this significant. There is, however, no front-facing camera for video chat, so that’s one area where Dick Tracy still has a leg-up on Samsung’s engineers.

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