Galaxy galore: Samsung rolls out new smart watch, tablets

Samsung debuts its first smart watch, the Galaxy Gear, along with two new tablet options before the IFA conference in Berlin.

Michael Sohn/AP
A model wears a Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch in Berlin on Sept. 4, 2013. Samsung has unveiled a highly anticipated digital wristwatch well ahead of a similar product expected from rival Apple. The so-called smart watch is what some technology analysts believe could become this year's must-have holiday gift.

Smart watches, tablets, and “phablets” (a phone-plus-tablet) are the way of the mobile future, according to Samsung’s newest gadget lineup.

Just ahead of the 2013 IFA tech conference in Berlin, Samsung revealed three new devices: the Galaxy Note 3 (a new version of its combination phone and tablet), the Galaxy Note 10.1 (a new, full-sized tablet), and the Galaxy Gear (an Android-powered smart watch). 

The Galaxy Gear was the most anticipated of the three releases, showing a growing interest in "wearable technology." The Gear offers smart-watch technology featured on previous devices, such as the ability to check e-mail and texts, receive phone calls, manage a calendar, and interact with social media and other Android apps.

But this technology also includes the S Voice, the option to control the features of the phone using your voice, as well as a 1.9 megapixel camera embedded in the strap, which allows users to snap photos and videos from their wrist. Early reviewers say the wrist strap placement was a little awkward for snapping photos, but the technology is fascinating nonetheless.

"The goal was to make it wearable and comfortable, and yet something out of sci-fi," says Pranav Mistry, Samsung's director of research.

Though apps and functions aren’t anything that hasn’t been seen before, the implications for smart watches are something to consider. Pocket, an iPhone and Android app that reads articles aloud and lets users save reading material for later, has already come out with a Galaxy Gear app that allows users to control what articles they save to their phone.

Aside from the Galaxy Gear, Samsung introduced two new tablet options: the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 10.1. The Note 3 is the newest incarnation of the phone/tablet hybrid, and its new features tip the scales more toward a tablet. The screen measures in at a whopping 5.7 inches (try fitting that in your pocket) and includes a stylus, called the S Pen. The design is also less industrial, featuring a new textured back with stitching detail. The Note 10.1 offers the same upgrades as the Note 3, but also includes a new sketching app, a redesigned version of Twitter, and special deals for the New York Times and Bloomberg business news.

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