Samsung just took the wraps off its new Galaxy Gear, a watch with a built-in camera and speakers that acts like a companion to the company’s Galaxy line of phones and tablets.

The $299 device connects via low-power Bluetooth to Samsung’s Galaxy phone to manage notifications, voice calls and other neat tricks. But it’s not an independent contractor and the watch loses much of its functionality when working solo. Still, there’s a 1.9 megapixel camera built into the strap and both the hardware and software design are in the aesthetic ballpark of comparably priced watches that tell little more than the time.

The Verge reports that the speakers were too quiet to carry on a conversation outside a hushed room (that might be a blessing for others) and there is cause for concern about battery life.

There are other smartwatches to be had already, with more to come. The crowd-funded Pebble watch uses a black and white LCD to keep its power consumption low, and Sony has its new SmartWatch 2, which is cheaper than the Galaxy Gear (though less feature rich) and compatible with Android devices not made by Samsung.

Meanwhile rumors abound of a new iWatch made by Apple, and other companies are hoping to come out with talkative wristwear.

It seems Dick Tracy was on to something after all.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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