Samsung Gear Match evaluation: a messy merger of health band and smartwatch
Health trackers and smartwatches come a dime a dozen, however units that mix the perfect of each? Nonetheless exceedingly uncommon. Now, nevertheless, Samsung thinks it has the right answer within the Gear Match, a health band with a lovely, curved display, in addition to a coronary heart price monitor, pedometer and some smartwatch options thrown in for good measure. It is an formidable product, little question, however sadly, this $200 health-monitoring smartwatch hybrid did not fairly meet my expectations. This is why.
- Snug to put on
- Beautiful curved AMOLED show
- Lengthy battery life
- No app ecosystem, restricted performance
- Coronary heart price monitor and pedometer aren’t correct
- Slender show makes it robust to learn
- Small, proprietary charging cradle
We needed to love the Gear Match, which options lovely hardware and guarantees to mix the perfect of a health tracker and smartwatch. Nevertheless, its software program and efficiency have been poorly executed, making it unattainable to advocate.
Hardware and show
Lovely. That is the thought that ran by means of my thoughts once I dealt with the Samsung Gear Match for the very first time again in February. Principally it was the display that acquired me, a 1.eighty four-inch curved Tremendous AMOLED show that wraps round your wrist. It helps this smartwatch/health band hybrid appear and feel extra pure, and it is far more aesthetically pleasing than most of its rivals, too. The display itself has vibrant colours, making it enjoyable to stare at even whenever you’re not utilizing it. It is barely readable in daylight, although; you will have to bump it as much as “outside brightness” mode, and even then it solely stays in that mode for 5 minutes earlier than reverting again right down to your earlier setting. And since there isn’t any ambient mild sensor, there is no auto-brightness setting to make it simpler on your show to regulate once you go outdoor.
Shifting past the display, the Match is a slender plastic module that comes with an interchangeable wristband. It is easy sufficient to swap colours, although you will not have many choices initially — simply six for now. It is snug sufficient that it isn’t a burden to put on for lengthy durations of time, which is one thing I can not say about many rival watches. Nonetheless, it is a sporty-wanting system, if you realize what I imply, which suggests anybody in search of one thing elegant ought to in all probability look elsewhere.
The Match has one bodily residence button, which you may also double-press as a shortcut to sure apps (that half’s customizable — simply select the function you employ most frequently). On the underside of the gadget, you will discover the guts price monitor, which makes use of an LED to measure your pulse, together with a proprietary docking/charging port. Inside, the watch comes with Bluetooth four.zero Low Power, an accelerometer and gyroscope. What’s lacking? GPS, which might’ve made it potential so as to add extra health-monitoring choices (particularly helpful when it isn’t inside vary of your telephone).
The charging dock used right here is sort of small, which additionally makes it an enormous legal responsibility. Not solely is it another accent to take round everytime you go on an extended journey, however it’s additionally extremely straightforward to lose. There’s not a lot to the cradle itself: It includes a micro-USB port and a pair wing-like tabs that assist safe it onto the edges of your Match. It does a superb job of attaching to the watch each time I have to plug the gadget in. The issue is, if a type of tabs have been to interrupt off later, it would be nearly inconceivable to cost the system.
Identical to Samsung’s new Galaxy S5, the Match is IP67-licensed, which suggests it may be immersed in as much as a meter of water for as much as half-hour. So, having a shower and washing dishes are completely acceptable, and it’d in all probability even be OK in case you jumped into the pool with it.Software program and performance
I will not hassle mincing phrases right here: The hardware is sweet, however the software program is not. It isn’t operating Android or Tizen OS, like Samsung’s different Gears. As an alternative, it makes use of a specialised working system that is restricted in performance and does not permit third-get together apps to work on the gadget itself (this will change ultimately, however in all probability provided that the watch sells nicely sufficient to justify it).
As soon as the watch is about up, you will be greeted by a house display. You’ll be able to change this panel to one among a number of totally different preset choices: You possibly can show the pedometer, the native climate, your subsequent calendar appointment or perhaps a second clock for a special time zone. If you wish to jazz up your clock past that, you possibly can select from 10 totally different themes; you may as well make your personal wallpaper by cropping a slender strip out of any pic in your gallery.
Apart from the clock, the consumer interface is comprised of 10 menu choices (eleven when you rely App Join, which pops up if a Match-suitable app like Strava is put in in your Galaxy gadget). Should you’re wonderful with small textual content, you possibly can match as much as three icons on the display on the similar time; for those who choose all the things to be bigger, nevertheless, you will should make do with one. Gear Match Supervisor, a Samsung telephone app you want with a purpose to handle your watch, allows you to rearrange the menu as you see match.
Lastly, the menu might be cut up up into two sections: apps that perform as health-monitoring options, and apps that make the most of the smartwatch a part of the gadget. I am going to talk about them individually.As a health band
In case you have a Gear Match-suitable telephone or pill, likelihood is you’ve got seen the S Well being app. It is meant to be a one-cease vacation spot for nearly all your health knowledge, akin to your coronary heart fee, train, calorie consumption and so forth. It hyperlinks together with your Samsung Account, so it is best to have the ability to again up your knowledge and switch it to different Samsung-made units down the street in the event you really feel so inclined. As you may need guessed, virtually any health monitoring you do on the Match may be downloaded and synced with S Well being. By default, the telephone and Match are supposed to speak to one another as soon as each three hours for knowledge transfers, however you’ll be able to have it much less steadily (e.g., a few times a day).
The thought behind the guts price monitor is fantastic, however in follow, it is not as helpful as I used to be anticipating. First off, it isn’t correct sufficient; identical to the Galaxy S5 and Gear 2, the sensor’s numbers vary anyplace from a strong “within the neighborhood” to outright “outlandish.” The measurements different wildly once I adjusted the Match to a special place on my wrist, and the variation was even greater once I measured my pulse on each wrists. All advised, the sensor is just too delicate to sweat, actions and noise, typically requiring you to make a number of makes an attempt. Lastly, the one approach to have the Match regularly measure your coronary heart price is to go in and inform the watch that you simply’re beginning your exercise. Even then, that choice is switched off by default.
Whenever you’re prepared to start your exercise, faucet on the train menu choice. Doing this provides you a small variety of exercise varieties to select from: strolling, mountaineering, operating and biking. These are able to monitoring your distance, the period of time it takes to finish the exercise and the variety of energy you’ve got presumably burned within the course of. Sadly, no matter which exercise you select, there isn’t any option to pause as soon as you’ve got began, so your exercise time will not be correct should you cease to take a break.
A number of the choices, akin to operating mode, include a constructed-in teaching function. As you run, the guts fee monitor retains an eye fixed in your pulse and the coach provides you with easy directions like velocity up or decelerate. Like I stated, strolling is among the exercise choices within the train menu, however the pedometer is handled as a totally separate app on the primary menu. That is extremely unintuitive; it signifies that if I need to go on a stroll and monitor all of my knowledge, I’ve to enter two totally different elements of the Match to activate the whole lot earlier than I may even depart my home. (The pedometer is turned off by default.) If the pedometer had already counted your steps for the day up till that time, you’d need to reset it so you’ll be able to start your exercise at zero. I need to rely each day by day and exercise-particular steps, so it might make extra sense to incorporate a “steps counted” function as a part of the exercise display as an alternative of treating it as a separate knowledge level.
All of that is irritating, however it might virtually be forgivable if the pedometer have been a minimum of correct. Not solely is it imprecise, however it does not sync correctly with S Well being. Relating to the primary concern, I took a stroll and counted my steps the old style means (with my mind); once I in contrast it with my Match, the 2 figures weren’t shut sufficient to one another responsible margin of error. I additionally took my GS5 and Match together with me for a mile-lengthy train — half of it strolling and the opposite half operating — and the Match calculated 200 extra steps than my telephone. These are only a couple examples, in fact, however I’ve observed many extra discrepancies over the previous week and a half.
The syncing drawback solely manifested itself once I used each the Match and Galaxy gadget to watch my train; as a result of the S Well being app is aware of you may need each your telephone and smartwatch on you on the similar time, it solely syncs the exercise with the earliest begin time. On paper, it is a sensible concept; each units ought to measure the very same outcomes. Since they clearly do not, although, this implies you will find yourself with a discrepancy in your train until you flip off the exercise tracker on one gadget (or depart your telephone at residence if you’re going for a run). The Match additionally did not do an excellent job of calculating distances traveled. I used an area monitor to run a mile, however the Match informed me I might solely travelled one-fifth of that distance. Once more, GPS would have are available mighty useful right here.
Sadly, the Match’s woes transcend health monitoring — its sleep tracker can also be pretty pointless. The Match makes use of its constructed-in accelerometer to detect movement as a method of figuring out should you’re absolutely asleep, and… that is about it. It additionally has a timer that tracks if you need to start sleeping and once you get up, however even that is a problem. In contrast to the Foundation B1 band, which routinely detects whenever you go to sleep, the Match requires you to do it manually. So, if it takes you a full half-hour to conk out, the Match will probably be none the wiser.
Not solely is the quantity of sleep knowledge restricted but in addition, the one method to retailer any of it’s to obtain a standalone app within the Samsung Retailer referred to as “S Well being Sleep.” That is proper, one of many Match’s marquee options has no place in the primary S Well being app. Why the corporate did it this manner, I can not be certain. What I do know, nevertheless, is that you simply presently want three totally different apps to correctly handle the Gear Match and all the knowledge you gather on it. At this level, you in all probability can see precisely how complicated the consumer expertise is right here. I think about many of those issues can be solved over time, however by then it may be too late.As a smartwatch
The health tracker clearly wants some work, however how does the Match do as a smartwatch? Let’s begin with a recap of what it does: just like the Pebble, It is an extension of your telephone, with notifications for incoming calls, textual content messages and emails, and in addition choose apps. Most of that works nice, however notifications — particularly lengthy ones — are a little bit of a multitude merely due to the awkward display. If I take a look at it in horizontal mode, I’ve to view it from a clumsy angle that hurts my neck (extra on this within the subsequent part). Most apps do not even present the precise notification; they show a teaser and provide the choice to take a look at it out of your telephone. Within the case of Gmail, you’ll be able to see the sender’s identify and topic line, however nothing else. Worse, if in case you have multiple e-mail, your most up-to-date message particulars mix into one single notification like a run-on sentence.
There’s additionally a timer, media controller and stopwatch on board should you want them, however that is primarily the place the performance stops — keep in mind that there are not any third-social gathering apps right here. For lots of people, this might be greater than lots — as I discussed earlier than, this is not meant to exchange your smartphone, however I might nonetheless wish to see what else builders might do to the Match to make it simpler in relation to finishing primary duties.
In case you are questioning, the Match comes with a Do Not Disturb mode (which Samsung calls Blocking Mode), however there is a catch: It is mixed with the sleep tracker, in order that’s the one time you should use it. Whereas I undoubtedly like to make use of this mode once I’m sleeping, there are many occasions once I’m making an attempt to concentrate on different duties and don’t need my wrist vibrating each few seconds. This looks like an enormous oversight on Samsung’s half.Efficiency and battery life
There’s one different drawback with utilizing the Match as a smartwatch: The show itself could also be enjoyable to take a look at, however the precise contents on the display aren’t. That is as a result of the panel is so slender that I needed to pressure my neck each time I needed to learn the Match show in horizontal (panorama) mode. Vertical (portrait) mode solves this drawback, however introduces one other challenge: You’ll be able to solely learn a couple of characters of textual content on every line, forcing you to scroll even additional down the display simply to get to the top of the message.
On the plus aspect, scrolling is not terribly troublesome because the display is fairly responsive. However until your telephone is in one other room and you are not capable of rise up and seize it, utilizing two palms to scroll by means of a notification in your watch just about defeats the aim — it would be quicker to only decide up the telephone.
In the meantime, I by no means had any issues pairing the Match to my Galaxy S5, nor did I’ve any points sustaining my Bluetooth connection. Additionally, the constructed-in accelerometer makes it attainable to wake the show up once I increase my arm, however the efficiency right here is hit-or-miss. On a number of events, I discovered myself grossly exaggerating my actions as a result of merely elevating my arm did not truly flip it on.
As for runtime, Samsung claims the Match’s battery will final three to 4 days. After spending just a little over every week with it, I’ve to agree. I solely needed to absolutely cost the unit twice throughout my time reviewing it, and every time it lasted for 4 days. Admittedly, although, it in all probability would have drained quicker if I have been a extra avid runner, which suggests the standard caveat applies right here: Your mileage might range.The competitors
The $200 Gear Match is exclusive in that it faces competitors from not one, however two kinds of wearables: health trackers and smartwatches. Meaning you’ve a lot to select from, although the Match is one of some units that try and bridge the hole between the 2 genres. However it’s not the solely one. With regards to being a jack-of-all-trades, the $four hundred Adidas miCoach Sensible Run does an excellent job combining a number of parts, doing quadruple-obligation as a media gadget, coaching coach, GPS tracker and coronary heart price monitor. The issue is, it is expensive. In truth, given the function set, the Gear Match seems like a steal at half the fee.
Apart from the efficiency points, the Match additionally has restricted compatibility. It may possibly solely hook up with particular Samsung smartphones and tablets, so anybody utilizing different Android or iOS units will not have the ability to do something with it. It is also on the costly finish of the health-band spectrum, going up towards the $199 Foundation band. Though the Match has a number of extra smartwatch-sort qualities, the Foundation B1 does a greater job monitoring most health actions. And, as talked about earlier, it even screens your sleep mechanically, a killer function that places the Match’s capabilities to disgrace.
On the cheaper aspect, you’ll be able to select from the $one hundred fifty Jawbone Up24, $one hundred Fitbit Flex, $one hundred Polar Loop and $one hundred thirty Garmin Vivofit. The Garmin and Polar units have optionally available coronary heart price screens, and the previous has a easy show for stats; all of them can join with most smartphones to sync your knowledge. Whereas most health trackers do not have many smartwatch qualities (if any), most smartwatches have no less than a number of health monitoring options. The Pebble (which ranges from $one hundred fifty to $249 relying on the mannequin) is backed by an enthusiastic developer group, and it is received a bunch of intelligent apps associated to well being and health, resembling sleep trackers, swim counters and pedometers (to call a couple of); you will discover Strava, RunKeeper, Runtastic Professional and different properly-recognized apps within the Pebble retailer as properly. Sadly, although, the Pebble, does not have a coronary heart fee monitor.Wrap-up
I am going to give Samsung credit score the place it is due: It is one of many first corporations to mix a health tracker with a smartwatch, and there’s certainly a marketplace for such a tool. When it comes to hardware, the corporate did a unbelievable job crafting a curved gadget that feels snug and appears good, in addition. Samsung additionally included a coronary heart price monitor, an attractive show and interchangeable bands — all good issues.
The place Samsung failed is within the software program. The consumer interface is complicated; the show is awkward to learn; the guts price monitor and pedometer aren’t correct; and the sleep tracker solely logs a pair essential stats. Finally, the corporate tried so exhausting to combine a health tracker with a smartwatch that it ended up half-baking each elements. As is, it isn’t well worth the $200 asking worth.
Historical past, too, would recommend it isn’t a good suggestion to purchase this proper now. As I discussed in my unique Galaxy Gear evaluate, the system felt extra like a proof of idea. Samsung clearly agreed, because it pushed out an improved sequel lower than six months later. Now, the Gear Match seems to be in the identical place: nice on paper, however poorly executed. It is best to attend this one out, however hopefully Samsung will push ahead, listens to suggestions and comes out with a a lot better model earlier than too lengthy.
Tags: health, gearfit, well being, mobilepostcross, evaluation, samsung, samsunggearfit, smartwatch, uk-function, uk-critiques
- Key specs
- <a href=”http://www.engadget.com/merchandise/samsung/gear/match/” title=”Samsung Gear Match critiques” goal=”_blank”> Critiques • 1 </a>
- Type issue Different
- Working system Different
- Display measurement 1.forty eight inches
- Storage sort Inner storage (four GB, Flash)
- Most battery life As much as ninety six hours
- Introduced 2014-02-24