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Review: Samsung Watch Blends Style, Tech Wizardry

Taking photos felt natural except at very high or low angles, which forced the wrist into an awkward position.

I found easy navigation of the touch screen one of the device's biggest pluses. Samsung has dispensed with buttons on the screen, so there's no home or back button. There is a button on the top right edge of the smartwatch face. Pressing it turns the display into a clock. One tap anywhere on the screen takes and saves a photo in the Gear and the smartphone that's paired with it. In clock mode, one swipe from bottom to top pulls up a numeric keypad.

Swiping from left or right shows a list of icons, including the S Voice, Samsung's equivalent of Apple's Siri digital assistant that responds to voice commands. You also get a list of emails and notifications from social networking apps. At any time, tapping the screen twice with two fingers conjures a pop-up window that shows the time, the weather and the amount of battery left.

With the combination of S Voice and the speakerphone in the strap, placing and answering calls was much easier than a smartphone. I tested it in a noisy setting and had to speak to the Gear more than once to set an alarm in my smartphone or to look up a contact to place a call. But it did work without too much effort. I didn't have the device for long enough to test how well it worked when not very close to the smartphone.

One downside is that the Gear doesn't support a wireless earpiece, so both sides of any conversation can be overheard. (There is a way you can get around that, though: Link the wireless earpiece directly with the phone instead. But the Gear itself can be linked only with one device â¿¿ the phone.)

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