Features

Fossil Q Hybrid: Reinventing the smartwatch

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In the tech world, to win you must innovate.

It’s a fast-paced, uber-crazy rat race, where each year, feature upon feature is piled onto new products dubbed the latest and greatest of tech.

Not everything makes sense, not everything practical or groundbreaking. But these headline features are what sells these products, and it gives us tech journalists something to write about.

But what if scaling back was even better than moving forward?

It’s an unconventional approach to product design, but one that might make sense in the smartwatch space and maybe even the tech world at large. More on that later.

I’ve owned and used many a smartwatch over the last two years, but nothing has really become a daily companion. Either charging becomes cumbersome, the need to be constantly connected drains my smartphone faster, or the novelty of owning one wears off.

If I didn’t write about tech for a living, I would think twice about buying a smartwatch knowing that unlike a traditional watch that I could theoretically pass down to my children, a smartwatch would be obsolete in a year, two at best.

Samsung’s Gear S3 smartwatch has built-in navigation features.

Sure everything’s gotten better — watch designs, software, and hardware features like buttons, knobs, and rotating bezels that make it easier to interact with these smart devices are much improved.

But more than two years since the first Google-powered smartwatch was unveiled, and over a year since the release of the original Apple Watch, the smartwatch industry is still at a standstill.

[irp posts=”8920" name=”Smartwatches are doing even worse than expected”]

Recently I was at the launch of Fossil Q smartwatches in the Philippines. I wasn’t particularly interested at first, but I own a few Fossil watches myself, and was curious to see how a traditional watchmaker would approach smartwatch design.

Unlike brands such as Apple, Samsung, and Motorola that are primarily tech companies, Fossil is a first and foremost a fashion brand.

It’s an easy fit. Usually smartwatches from any of the tech companies mentioned above come in two to three variants; Fossil’s new Android Wear-powered smartwatches — the Fossil Q Marshal and Q Wander — are available in a wide range of styles, as are Fossil’s traditional watches.

My Fossil Q Crewmaster Hybrid

But what caught my attention was the Q Hybrid, which is unlike any other smartwatch that I’ve reviewed before. I was so smitten, that I’ve since gone ahead and purchased one of my own — mine is called the Fossil Q Crewmaster Hybrid, a nautical-inspired watch with a multi-colored face and black silicone strap.

Fossil refers to its Hybrid line as smartwatches, but they don’t fall into the usual model. They are, for all intents and purposes, traditional watches. They look just like any other Fossil watch; don’t have a touchscreen or an operating system, you don’t have to charge them at the end of every day (you replace the standard CR2430 batteries every six months), and you can’t use them to make calls or read text messages.

But they are smart in the sense that they can track your steps and sleep. They connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth and sync with a smartphone app. And they can be programmed to vibrate when you get a notification — I’ve programmed my watch to vibrate only when I get important calls from loved ones.

Fossil Q Hybrid watches come with built-in fitness tracking features. You can view your stats on your smartphone.

My Hybrid watch also has an extra button that can be programmed to extend the functionality of my smartphone — like being able to play and skip music tracks, using it as a remote shutter button for taking photos, or having it make loud noises when it’s gone missing.

If you compare these features to any other smartwatch in my collection, there’s plenty the Fossil Q Hybrid can’t do, but that’s fine with me. In fact, maybe that’s exactly what makes the Fossil Q Hybrid an excellent idea.

Not everyone will agree, but perhaps this is what all smartwatches should be like.

In Manila, I sat down with Fossil APAC Merchandising Manager Justin Paxton.

He says, “Over the next couple of years, customers will eventually get to the point where they’re going to say, why does my watch only tell the time. There will be a point where customers will want smart features and expect it to be a standard.”

Perhaps that time has come. We want traditional watches and we want smart features, but we don’t need to have them all. We don’t need extra features at the cost of battery life, or the legacy of a watch that can last several lifetimes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for the latest and greatest tech — I’d still fawn over a super watch that can do it all. But as tech creeps into more aspects of daily life, maybe tech companies can learn a thing or two from outsiders like Fossil.

That innovation alone doesn’t sell a product. And that scaling back and just perfecting something already existing, makes for the best tech of all.

Cameras

EZVIZ S2 Action Camera: A road trip companion

Dashcam and action camera in one!

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Nowadays, it’s hard to choose an action camera to accompany you on your adventures. Everyone’s top-of-mind is the popular GoPro Hero series and DJI’s new Osmo Action. However, I find these two cameras too much, both for me and my wallet.

On top of it, I’m not a professional adventurer nor a sports enthusiast who would need a high-end action camera. All I need is something I can take with me on my water activities to capture moments occasionally while I’m living in the moment. In search of an affordable action camera that would fit anyone’s budget, I found the EZVIZ S2 2-in-1 Action Camera, which also doubles as a dash camera.

Lightweight and small, this camera is easy to bring wherever you go.

It has a 2-inch IPS LCD touchscreen panel.

You can find an uncovered mini HDMI and micro USB port.

On the other side is the power and settings button which lets you navigate the camera and access different modes.

Found on top are its speaker grilles and shutter button…

… while the bottom sports the battery, micro sd slot, and a hole for the mounts.

While driving to the Bicol region in the Philippines, my friends and I used this camera momentarily to test its capabilities. Thankfully, this camera comes with mounts and accessories like a waterproof case in its box. However, it’s difficult to navigate it as a dash camera since you need to place it inside the case before you can mount it on your windscreen.

Furthermore, the case’s buttons need to be pressed hard. It felt like a marketing ploy since this camera could be better if sold as just an action camera.

But if you look at it on a different perspective, a 2-in-1 camera like this would be nice to have on road trips. Imagine finding a serene spot in the middle of nowhere, and you grab your dash camera. Instantly, you have an action camera to immortalize your precious moments.

Capture your adventures

Then again, if its capability as an action camera we’re talking about, the EZVIZ S2 is enough. Sure, we always want the best of the best. However, in some cases, we don’t really need an expensive camera.

For instance, most people don’t care about the camera you’ve used to take a photo. No matter how wonderful it is, they’ll care about the place, the way you took your photo or the story behind the moment you’ve captured.

This is the reason why it’s perfectly okay to use a cheaper action camera like the EZVIZ S2, in case you have doubts. The samples I took has good color reproduction, average white balance processing, and noticeable grains. Due to my incredibly high standards, I find it difficult to like the camera’s outputs — but my friends did. As I asked around, I find that most people have no qualms about the image quality.

The photo mode has three shooting options for you to choose from — Single shot, Burst, and Timelapse. The mode also gives you the option to shoot in different sizes: 2MP, 4MP, and 8MP. There’s a professional mode, too, in case you want to experiment with your shots. You can customize the white balance, adjust the ISO and exposure value, and even apply filters.

Better for videos

The EZVIZ S2 focuses on video recording. It has a dashcam mode with an emergency recording feature, which prevents the footage from being deleted. This is useful as a piece of evidence, especially during crucial and unforeseen accidents.

There’s also a video mode where you can record at 1080p in 50 fps. The camera can handle three different shooting modes such as video, video+photo, and timelapse. If 1080p is too much, there’s a 720p recording, too, which can cap off at 120fps for slo-mo recording. Additionally, there’s a pro mode for you to adjust your settings the way you like it.

Here are some stills that were taken from the video clips I shot. As long as there’s sufficient light, you can capture photos and videos without any worries.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The EZVIZ S2 2-in-1 Action Camera is perfect as a travel companion, especially for those who love taking road trips. You get an action camera and a dashcam in one for only PhP 5,499 (US$ 108), complete with mounts and accessories. You can choose between black, orange, yellow, and blue for the unit. For this price range, it’s a sweet deal.

This camera is also helpful for starters pursuing underwater and adventure photography; a stepping stone before they upgrade to more professional gear.

Moreover, the EZVIZ S2 is helpful when documenting your adventures every now and then. During my stint with this device, I realized that sometimes, we don’t really need the best. All we need is something that’s enough to capture precious moments while we live our lives to the fullest.

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Editors' Choice

Best of 2019: Our favorite smartphones

So many choices, so we narrowed them down for you

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There’s really not one best smartphone. We all have different needs and thankfully, the options that brands give us is not lacking at all. Whether your priority is photography, gaming, or just something basic, there is definitely a smartphone for you.

Here are our favorites.

Best smartphones for photography: iPhone 11 Pro, Pixel 4

How good are the cameras? That’s always a topic of conversation when new phones are released. While other brands have made huge strides, the iPhone 11 Pro and the Pixel 4 continue to dominate this category. The iPhone is a no-brainer choice for most people. Consistency is key and Apple has been pretty much consistent with the cameras on the iPhone.

Meanwhile, Google’s computational photography on the Pixel 4 continues to wow reviewers and casual users. Like the iPhone, the Pixel has consistently been one of the best in this category and it appears it will continue to be in the foreseeable future.

Honorable mentions: Huawei Mate 30 Pro, Huawei P30 Pro

Best Android flagship: Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Galaxy Note 10+

While the S Pen continues to set the Galaxy Note 10 series apart, the latest iteration of this Samsung flagship does so many other things at a high level as well. It is still a smartphone that’s literally for anyone, especially with the Galaxy Note 10 being made for people with smaller hands. Audio enthusiasts will lament the lack of a headphone jack for HiFi audio but more casual users are buying wireless earphones for their devices.

Honorable Mentions: OnePlus 7T Pro, Huawei P30 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S10+

Best implementation of a foldable display: Motorola razr

While the Samsung Galaxy Fold dominated this year’s headlines — and not always for the best reasons, it was the Motorola razr that showed us that while it’s notable to be the first, it’s more important to be the first to get it right. The new razr is a buzzer beater entry in this category but it’s also a slam dunk. The device, at launch, just works. No creases, no displays you can tear off, and no threat of software support being banned.

Best smartphone with a 64MP camera: Realme XT

The only two other phones in this category are the Redmi Note 8 Pro and the Vivo NEX 3. We think that of the three, the Realme XT offers the best value. You see, other than the megapixel count, what sets smartphone cameras apart is the phone’s post-processing. The Realme XT consistently produces images with great detail and fantastic color reproduction. It doesn’t hurt that the phone’s white variant looks pretty good too.

Best value smartphone: Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro (Redmi K20 Pro) 

This is 2019’s flagship killer. Not only is it equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 that’s present in most flagships today, it also has a modern all-screen design with a pop-up camera plus its rear cameras more than holds its own against phones that are similarly priced. But the price, that’s where this phone truly sets itself apart. For less than half of most flagships today, you get very near-flagship performance. There’s almost nothing else like it.

Honorable Mentions: OnePlus 7T, Realme 5 Pro

Best budget smartphone: Realme 5

Realme broke out in 2019 like no other brand. They’ve strengthened their foothold in key developing markets by launching devices that punch above their weight class. The Realme 5 is one such device. As one of the few budget smartphones with a quad-camera setup and is capable of basic gaming, it’s a well-rounded device and is perfect for anyone looking to get their first smartphone.

Honorable Mentions: Redmi Note 8, Samsung Galaxy A20s

Best smartphones for videography: iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max 

iPhones have been far and away the best smartphones for taking videos for a while now. The same is true in 2019. The iPhone 11 series has put even more emphasis on the cameras and just took what it was already good at and just became better at it. No one’s touching the iPhone in this category but the challengers have been gaining on them.

Honorable mentions: Huawei Mate 30 Pro, Huawei P30 Pro, OPPO Reno2, Samsung Galaxy Note 10+

Best gaming smartphone: ROG Phone 2

It’s not even about the accessories. Yes, those are cool, but what really makes this a gaming smartphone is its design. We’re not just talking about how it looks. Design should always be how form and function come together. The ROG Phone 2’s features and little touches here and there like the second usb-c port for charging, the flat display, the front-firing speakers — these are all design decisions that address a mobile gamer’s needs. It’s extremely thoughtful of its target market.

Best Android smartphone without Google Mobile Services: Huawei Mate 30 Pro 

Heh. Sorry Huawei, we just had to. ✌

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Hands-On

Motorola razr Hands-On

The popular RAZR is back!

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The new Motorola razr is a modern version of the popular RAZR V3. It still has a sleek design, but now has a 6.2-inch Flex Display with a perfectly executed zero-gap hinge.

It runs on Snapdragon 710 chipset, 6GB RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 2510 mAh battery with 15W TurboPower charger right out of the box.

But does all of that justify the $1499 price tag?

This is our Motorola razr hands-on.

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