Accessories

Fossil Hybrid HR review: Exceeding expectations

Who needs a man when you have the Hybrid HR?

Published

on

These days, the qualities I look for in a man are the same things I look for in a watch: smart, good-looking, long-lasting, and more important, a great travel companion.

The search isn’t easy. Smartwatches have come and gone in my life mainly for two reasons: they have poor battery life and/or are hideous.

Walking around Brooklyn the day I took the Fossil Hybrid HR out of the box

For those same reasons, only the Fossil Q Hybrid smartwatches remained constant on my wrist for the last three years. When I learned that Fossil released the Hybrid HR, I got excited — until I saw that it promises only two weeks of battery life, that is.

A two-week battery life is already huge leap forward if you’re coming from a WearOS device or an Apple Watch. If you’re used to the original Hybrid line like me however, two weeks is not a lot.

Still, I wanted to give it a chance. It can do far more than the original hybrid after all, and it has a heart rate sensor, so the trade off might be worth it.

SEE ALSO: Fossil Q Hybrid: His and Hers

Polished looks

The one I have is the Hybrid HR Charter, with a rose gold stainless steel mesh strap and a white watch face. On the app it shows that it’s also called Diana.

Just like the late princess, it’s stylish, refined, and elegant as far as smartwatches go. There’s a version with a black watch face and rose gold combination as well, which I think is a perfect look for winter.

It comes with traditional watch hands and dials, but in the middle is a cutout for what Fossil calls a read-out display. This is similar to the e-ink display you’d find on a Kindle and other e-book readers. Unlike Kindle displays and regular smartwatch displays, the read-out display is not touch screen; all navigation is done through the three physical buttons on the right.

Buy the Fossil Hybrid HR

The physical buttons do three things primarily: up, select, and down. They can also be set to do other functions when not selecting from a menu. From the home screen, I set the top button to show my wellness stats, the middle button shows the weather including chance of rain and highs and lows throughout the day, while the bottom button is a shortcut for tracking my workouts.

The read-out display shows up to four bits of information at a time that you can customize on the Fossil Hybrid app. It can show a second timezone, day and date date, resting heart rate, the weather, chance of rain, calories burned, active minutes, steps, and battery life.

I set mine to show the day and date, my resting heart rate, a second timezone set to Barcelona, and the weather. These are the information I’ll always want to know without checking my phone, whether I’m traveling, working out, or just reading a book on a lazy Sunday.

On the Fossil Hybrid app, you can create presets and easily switch between them, depending on your activity.

The background is cuztomizable, too. Fossil has a few classy black and white patterns you can choose from.

Alternatively, you can use any photo from your gallery and it will be converted into a black and white, e-ink version. I found that it works better with photos with a lot of negative space. Here’s what it looks like with a photo of the sunrise over rock formations in Cappadocia, Turkey.

It can also be set to show no widgets and look like an analog watch if you want it to. It can have a plain white background, a photo, or any of the patterns all while still being able to see the data it records through its sensors on the app.

Since there’s no way to adjust the display brightness, you can double tap on the watch face to activate the lights to help you see the time better when it’s dark.

Basic fitness tracking

The main reason I gave the Hybrid HR a chance, is that unlike the original Fossil Q Hybrid models, it comes with a heart rate sensor. This is what I liked about the other smartwatches I’ve tried before, including the Fossil Q Gen 4. Knowing how unfit I was by seeing my resting heart rate made me want to live a more active lifestyle.

The Hybrid HR can track exercises although it’s not exactly made for that — there are more capable wearables if that’s what you’re looking for. The mesh band is replacable with any standard 18mm watch strap, so I bought a gray silicone strap from Fossil for when I do my workouts.

I don’t remember the last time I tracked my workout using a smartwatch, but I do remember arriving at the gym a handful of times with a dead battery.

Buy the Fossil Hybrid HR

Two months in and I have yet to get into the habit of putting it on whenever I work out, as well as remembering to start and stop the tracking function, so I have yet to see any real pattern from the readings.

My resting heart rate during a core workout (left) and a leg day (right)

When I did remember, the app recorded that I burned 79 calories and a maximum heart rate of 139 bpm during a 34-minute core workout. It recorded a total of 243 calories burnt one excruciating leg day, and an understandably maximum heart rate of 193 bpm.

The Fossil Hybrid HR is able to track sleep — on a flight (left) and on my bed

It also has a sleep tracker, and I’ve kept it on a few times while I dozed off. This isn’t a feature that I see myself using and checking a lot but I’m amazed at how it knew exactly when I fell asleep during flights, the specific moments when I woke up to drink water, or adjust my position.

You can also set it to send you alerts when you’re inactive. I set it to notify me every time I haven’t moved for one hour starting from 11:00 AM and end at 9:00 PM, which is generally the time I spend in front of my computer on weekdays. This has especially become helpful during quarantine since I live in a tiny New York apartment and have very little room for movement.

Better battery life than expected

Apart from being so well-designed, not having to charge the original hybrid smartwatches from Fossil was the reason I loved them. I already have way too many devices that need charging, and I don’t need to bring yet another cable with me when I’m traveling. Packing as little as possible is difficult as it is.

In the last two months of using the Hybrid HR, I found that its battery doesn’t last me two weeks as Fossil claims — it lasts an entire month!

Matching my monotone outfit at a briefing in San Francisco

During my trips to San Francisco, back to New York, then to Barcelona, Budapest, and Madrid through the month of February, not once did I take the charging cable out to juice it up. I could have forgotten to pack the charging cable for my trips and I would have been perfectly fine.

I can point to two reasons why the Hybrid HR’s battery life has been impressive: its read-out display doesn’t consume as much power as other smartwatch displays, and I’ve had most notifications turned off from the very beginning.

Munching on pintxos in Barcelona

While most people wear smartwatches to get notifications without picking up their phones, I’m the complete opposite. I wear a watch so I can see the time at a glance, not to get distracted and for my productivity to get disrupted.

Any work-related apps like Gmail and Slack have never had access to my wrist — only apps that me and my closest friends and family use to communicate did: Messages, Whatsapp, and Instagram Direct.

Buy the Fossil Hybrid HR

After a month I turned off both Whatsapp and Instagram Direct as well, and only left notifications on for Messages for three important contacts on my phone who also use SMS and iMessage sparingly. This meant that my watch now only vibrates and gets to interrupt me for something very important and whenever it tells me to move.

The Fossil Hybrid HR finally showed a low battery notification after four weeks of use

In March, when it finally buzzed to say that I had 7 percent battery life remaining, it took a little over an hour for a full charge. A 30-minute top up can get to 68 percent, which, based on my experience could very well last me more than two weeks of use.

My only complaint, having used the original hybrids from Fossil, is that the Hybrid HR no longer shows up under the Batteries widget on my iPhone. The only way for me to know how much battery I have left on the watch is by going on the app or by changing one of the widgets on the watch. It’s a minor issue, but I’m hoping this is something that can be addressed via an update in the future.

Is the Fossil Hybrid HR your GadgetMatch?

The Fossil Hybrid HR is the answer to the current crop of smartwatch’s biggest pain points: looks and battery life. For my lifestyle, the way I use watches, and at US$ 215, it makes the most sense. Other models start at US$ 195.

“I could have forgotten to pack the charging cable for my trips and I would have been perfectly fine.”

That I can travel and not worry about topping it up every night, while still getting the information I need is a godsend. Knowing what the weather is like at a glance, without asking my Smart Clock or checking Accuweather on my phone, is convenient when I’m planning what to wear given the fleeting weather. Seeing my resting heart rate at any given time, motivates me to exercise and stay fit especially at a time when taking care of one’s health should be everyone’s priority.

Apple’s Health app and other period trackers are not included in the list of apps that can send notifications to the watch

What keeps this smartwatch from being perfect, is the lack of a menstrual cycle tracker. At the very least it would be great to sync my Health or other period tracker apps to get notifications. Getting monthly reminders a few days before my period starts is helpful. They help me plan my days better as I can anticipate and monitor my mood swings, spotting, and intense cravings. Maybe that’s something that can be included in future iterations.

Books and brunch in Budapest

Sure, its battery only lasts one month versus the 8-12 that I was used to getting from the original hybrid models, but the added features are far more useful than the tiny inconvenience of having to charge it every four weeks; not to mention the fact that I no longer have to deal with buying and throwing away batteries that most likely end up in landfills.

I have been in a committed relationship with Fossil Hybrids for over 3 years now, and with the way things are with the Hybrid HR, that isn’t going to change any time soon.

Buy the Fossil Hybrid HR

Accessories

Sony WH-1000XM4 noise-cancelling king now official

‘The best just got better’

Published

on

The Sony WH-1000XM4 is now official. Sony’s best-in-class noise-cancelling over-ear headphones just got a refresh and the improvements further make shine an already polished device.

What’s new?

Multiple device pairing

This has been one of this headphones’ weaknesses and it has finally been addressed. You can now connect the Sony WH-1000XM4 to two devices simultaneously.

When a call comes in, your headphones will know which device is ringing and connect to it automatically. You’ll also be able to quickly switch your headphones to either of the two devices in a single tap.

Superior sound

Every iteration of these headphones already sound amazing. But that didn’t stop Sony from elevating the listening experience even further.

The ever-reliable QN1 is still here for noise-cancellation but it’s now paired with a new Bluetooth Audio SoC. It can sense and adjust to music and noise at over 700 times per second.

It now also has Edge-AI, DSEE Extreme which more accurately rebuilds audio lost during digital compression for a full fidelity experience. The 360 Reality Audio feature is now also making its way to these headphones. It lets listeners enjoy a custom immersive musical field that is perfectly optimized for each individual user.

The WH-1000XM4 also supports Google’s helpful new Fast Pair feature that lets you easily locate where you left your WH-1000XM4 by ringing them.

Speak-to-chat

Previously, you had to cover one of the ear cups to disable the noise-cancelling for a short period. Now, you only have to speak and the headphones will recognize your voice,

automatically stop your music and let in ambient sound so you can conduct a conversation without removing your headphones.

What’s been carried over?

As mentioned, the superior sound and noise-cancelling are still here but enhanced. The simple and sleek look has also been retained. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

The battery life also remains the same which is a good thing. You get up to 30 hours overall and the quick charging function gives you up to 5 hours of wireless playback from 10 minutes of charging.

The headphones also still know if you’re wearing them or not. It stops the music when you have it off and resumes playback when you put them on.

Lastly, it still has support for Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa for your personal voice assistant.

Pricing and availability 

The Sony WH-1000XM4 will come in Black and Platinum Silver.

In Singapore, it will be available at selected retail shops and online stores starting August 7,2020 at a retail price of SG$ 549.

SEE ALSO: Sony WH-1000XM3 Hands-on: As good as advertised

Continue Reading

Accessories

Razer launched a heat-resistant, antibacterial Note 20 case

Available in the usual black and green

Published

on

Earlier today, Samsung launched the much-awaited Galaxy Note 20 series. The premium flagship lineup promises more of what made the series so successful plus a few new features. Naturally, the Galaxy Note 20 series costs a pretty penny. If you’re getting the new smartphone, you’ll want protection for your investment. Going along with the exciting gallery of stylish accessories, Razer launched a heat-resistant, antibacterial case for the Note 20 series.

As part of the Arctech Pro series, Razer is bundling the Note 20’s case with a series of impressive features. The case comes with Thermaphene Cooling Technology, which uses a thermally conductive layer to spread trapped heat equally. Though also a productivity pusher, the Note 20 series sports the Snapdragon 865+ (or the Exynos 990), making it a perfect device for intense mobile gaming. Razer does have rationale in putting a gaming-centric feature on its case. Speaking of gaming, the case also has stronger and more comfortable side panels for horizontal orientations.

Especially with today’s world, the Archtech Pro case also comes with anti-bacterial coating which “prevents the growth of bacteria.” Though it might not prevent the coronavirus from landing on your phone, the case will prevent your phone from becoming a cesspool of wayward bacteria.

Another advertised feature is 5G compatibility. Supposedly, the case will work seamlessly according to the phone’s 5G antenna, allowing easy connectivity once that particular technology becomes available.

As you might expect, the Razer Arctech Pro comes in only one flavor: the iconic black and green. The case is available for both the Note 20 and the Note 20 Ultra. Both will cost US$ 44.99.

SEE ALSO: Razer is developing face mask vending machines

Continue Reading

Accessories

Samsung’s Note 20 accessories look fabulously polished

Sustainable, stylish protection

Published

on

Samsung’s newest Galaxy Note 20 series may look glamorous without a case, but having a stylish case is worth considering when you have an expensive phone.

Luckily, the South Korean company released fabulous phone cases to protect the Galaxy Note 20 while looking good. There’s the Kvadrat cover, a case familiar to most Samsung users and loyalists following the annual Unpacked event.

In case you’re just discovering Kvadrat, it’s a Danish textile company taking inspirations from its Scandinavian roots. The company produces a sustainable textile called Revive, made from post-consumer recycled polyester like plastic bottles.

Samsung and Kvadrat’s collaboration aims to reduce the environmental impact of production and plastic waste.

Even though it looks thin and stylish, the Kvadrat Cover complements the Note 20 series’ striking shape while staying durable — protecting your phone from accidental drops and damage. It comes in Red and Gray.


Samsung’s usual Clear View and LED View cover are still part of the Note 20 series’s lineup of accessories. It comes in Gray and Samsung’s most appreciated color this year and a step-up of the previous Rose Gold — Copper.

Price and availability are yet to be announced and may vary per region. This page will be updated accordingly.

WATCH our Galaxy Note 20 Series video

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Gadget Reviews

Trending