The Gear Live is Samsung’s first kick at the Android Wear can, and like the other hardware in this category, it offers Android Wear basically as Google intended it. Software wise, there’s almost nothing to distinguish these devices – which means it’s all down to hardware design for Wear makers to make their mark.
Samsung’s Gear Live is the only one in the launch crop of devices to sport an optical heart rate sensor, which is a handy spare feature if you’re an athlete or incredibly interested in your fitness levels and activity tracking. The Gear also features pretty much the exact same hardware that Samsung shipped with the Gear 2 smartwatch, released earlier this year and powered by Tizen, which is itself a refinement of the original Gear.
They’ve managed to make a device that’s comfortable and easy to wear all day, albeit with a band that isn’t all that easy to latch onto your wrist to begin with. The smooth transition from bezel to lug is also aesthetically pleasing, but it isn’t convenient when you want to replace it with something else; the connector is proprietary to Samsung, limiting the availability of custom options.
The display on the Samsung is more legible in direct sunlight than the LG G Watch, too – though neither is wonderfully clear in those circumstances. But it is incredibly bright and colorful, vividly rendering the new Material Design principles Google introduced at I/O.