The next upgrade in the connected life is waiting to be shackled to your wrist. At least, that's Samsung's story: The Korean conglomerate helped open the IFA electronics trade show in Berlin by introducing the Galaxy Gear, a smart watch designed to operate as a counterpart to some of its Android phones.
The idea here is to free users of big-screen phones such as Samsung's new Galaxy Note 3 from having to grab their "phablets" just to check their email or the time. The touchscreen- and voice-controlled Gear uses Bluetooth to sync data, transfer photos taken with its tiny camera and borrow the phone's Internet connection for its own apps.
Is It the Right Time for Smart Watches?
But the almost half-inch-thick Gear, as I realized after strapping a demo unit to my wrist, is a hefty hunk of electronics to wear. And its automatically-dimming touchscreen will still need recharging about once a day - in a separate cradle, instead of just over a micro-USB cable like most phones.
Another high-profile IFA exhibitor, Sony, showed off a different kind of phone peripheral. Its new QX10 and QX100 camera modules clip onto smartphones to borrow their software, screens and bandwidth. Ideally, they get you the high-quality glass of a "real" camera with the easy editing and uploading of a smartphone - but their use of WiFi to talk to their host phones could come at a hit in battery life.