Samsung (SSNLF) has three major new products launching today: The Galaxy S5 flagship smartphone, the Gear 2 smartwatch, and the new Gear Fit fitness tracker/smartwatch.
It’s the Gear Fit smartwatch that had the most buzz when Samsung officially announced it in February. Unlike the company’s first clunky Gear Fit smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear, the Gear Fit is a sleek gadget with a gorgeous curved glass display. It’s light and very comfortable to wear, just like other fitness gadgets such as the FitBit and Jawbone Up.
But there’s one glaring flaw that makes it tough for me to recommend for most people to buy the Gear Fit. The narrow screen is incredibly awkward to use.
By default, the Gear Fit displays everything horizontally. It looks fine, but it’s difficult to read from your wrist because everything is perpendicular to your vision. You either have to twist your head around or move your arm into an uncomfortable position.
Samsung tried to fix the problem by letting you rotate everything into a vertical orientation. It’s sort of better, but text from incoming notifications are squished to just a few characters per line, meaning some words are split up. It looks like this:
That’s not very practical!
If anything, Samsung’s Gear Fit teaches us that no one has come up with the perfect solution to a wearable computing device. The hardware might be close, but the user interface is the real challenge.