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.

Deals

Plan for Black Friday early with these amazing deals

It’s time to ready your shopping list and wallet

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We’re midway through November already, inching towards Thanksgiving and one of the most awaited dates for shopping — Black Friday. To help you get yourself and your wallet ready, we scoured through the internet to find some of the best tech deals that’ll be popping up next week. Here are some offers that you might want to take advantage of on November 23rd.

17.3-inch ASUS TUF gaming laptop (US$ 999)

This ASUS Gaming Laptop will be going down by US$ 400, so if you’ve been wanting a gaming laptop, this might be the time to cop one. And if you have a more limited budget, you could also check out the HP Pavilion CX0056WM Gaming Laptop for  under US$ 600 with over US$ 100 worth of extra gaming software at Walmart.

HyperDrive USB Type-C Hub for MacBooks (US$ 69.99)

This would make a perfect gift for that person you know who lives the #donglelife. Check out the deal at Best Buy.

Sony PS4 1TB Slim Spider‑Man Bundle (US$ 199) and Xbox One S 1TB Minecraft Creators Bundle (US$ 299)

The best console deals come out this time of year, and next week, both the Spider-Man PlayStation 4 bundle and the Minecraft Creators Xbox One S bundle will be up for grabs!

Nintendo Switch Super Mario Kart Deluxe Bundle (US$ 299)

Another console being featured this Black Friday is the Nintendo Switch. Why not get the Switch with an amazing party game for your holiday gatherings? You can check the deal out at Best Buy or Walmart.

Pac-Man or Galaga Retro Arcade Machine (US$ 249)

For retro gamers or those who want to reminisce about the arcade days, this would definitely be a great item to pick up. Check it out at Target.

Amazon Echo Dot (Gen 3) (US$ 25) and Google Home Mini (US$ 25)

Get in the smart home/speaker game with the Amazon Echo Dot at half the price! You can also go with the Google Home Mini, if Alexa’s not your jam.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (128GB) with keyboard (US$ 599)

Why not get a powerful and portable device? The Surface Pro 6 will be US$ 360 cheaper on Friday, and it might be a good time to pick it up. The deal will be available at Best Buy.

65-inch 4K Smart Roku TV (US$ 398) and 40-inch Hisense 1080p TV (US$ 99)

This Walmart deal is probably one of the best TV deals we’ve ever seen. But if 65 inches is too big or you have a more limited budget, there’s also a 40-inch option that’s an incredible deal, as well.

Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones (US$ 99)

It might be a great chance to pick up a pair of wireless buds from one of the best audio companies out there for under US$ 100. If that’s still a bit too steep though, the Skullcandy Method Wireless Earbuds will also be available at Best Buy for US$ 25, and they’re good quality too.

Anki’s Cozmo (US$ 139.99) and Vector (US$ 199.99) Robots

Anki has been making their rounds on the internet with these two adorable little robots. They would make for a great gift for children and adults alike, and will be marked down at Best Buy this Thanksgiving weekend.

There you have it! Just a few sneaky bits we found ahead of all the ads. We’re sure there’ll be loads more amazing stuff to check out, but this is a good place to start. We hope you enjoy your holidays, and be careful if you’re planning to face the Black Friday mobs. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Features

Huawei, ZTE face ban amid 5G arms race: Weekend Rewind

It’s a security issue

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Here are this week’s top stories on GadgetMatch.

1. Huawei and ZTE facing more potential bans

Huawei and ZTE have had a relatively hard time breaking through the US and it looks like they’ll face similar problems in other countries. While the US has allowed both Chinese companies to operate in their soil, the likes of Australia, Japan, the UK, and Germany aren’t exactly eager to welcome these two.

The cause for concern is China’s newly implemented National Intelligence Law. This law forces Chinese companies and individuals to serve the Chinese government when needed. Other countries fear this could compromise security.

Huawei and ZTE are gearing up towards 5G but with this current development, it looks like they’ll need to look elsewhere to establish their infrastructure.

2. PLDT, Smart activates first 5G towers in PH

Speaking of 5G, the Philippines isn’t one of the countries that’s blocking China. In fact, the government may be too welcoming. Partnering with Huawei and Ericsson, telecommunications company PLDT along with its wireless arm Smart has activated two 5G cell sites in the country.

The first one is located in Makati City where the company’s headquarters is also found. The other is in Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga, a neighboring region of Metro Manila.

3. MediaTek gearing up for 5G

Still on 5G, MediaTek is already hard at work in developing its 5G-capable chip. In a media tour in Taiwan, the company showcased the Helio M70 which does just that.

MediaTek says commercial rollout won’t happen until 2020 but they’re already prepared to showcase the chip at the next MWC (Mobile World Congress) in Barcelona, Spain.

 

Image source: LetsGoDigital

4. Apple patents holed iPhone design

Is Apple killing the notch? That appears to be the case if the latest patent they filed is any indication. LetsGoDigital reported that Apple is planning a holed smartphone.

According to the patent, the front-facing camera could be hidden underneath the screen through that hole. Whether or not this will be the case for the next iPhone remains to be seen. We all just have to wait and see.

5. PlayStation to skip E3 2019

PlayStation won’t be present when annual gaming convention E3 comes around in 2019. This marks the first time in the show’s 24-year history that Sony won’t be present.

In a statement sent to multiple outlets, Sony said, “As the industry evolves, Sony Interactive Entertainment continues to look for inventive opportunities to engage the community. PlayStation fans mean the world to us and we always want to innovate, think differently, and experiment with new ways to delight gamers. As a result, we have decided not to participate in E3 in 2019. We are exploring new and familiar ways to engage our community in 2019 and can’t wait to share our plans with you

It’s all very vague at this point but the company could be all hands on deck for an even more major reveal *cough* PlayStation 5 *cough* and they want the attention all to themselves instead of sharing it with other platforms.


Weekend Rewind is our roundup of top news and features you might have missed for the week. We know the world of technology can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to get up to speed with everything — and that includes us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rewind.

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Features

Bohemian Rhapsody, Ragnarok Mobile: Now Playing

We’re reliving the past!

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Curious to know what GadgetMatch has been up to besides covering everything lifestyle and tech? Here’s what we’ve been seeing, visiting, and playing this month:

Movies to see

Bohemian Rhapsody
Chay: Bohemian Rhapsody is an epic biopic-musical whose title is derived from the equally epic song. Even if there are a lot of inaccuracies and clichés as pointed out by several critics, it’s a film moviegoers will still enjoy, Queen fan or not. If you’re a true-blue Queen fan, this will either make you miss Freddie Mercury or wish you can see all four members perform again together. Good news is watching Bohemian Rhapsody is the closest thing you’ll get to watching a Queen concert in 2018; it’s like seeing Queen’s greatest hits come alive before your own eyes (and ears).

Batman Ninja
Rodneil: What’s cooler than Batman being transported to the samurai era in Japan? Nothing. This film is all kinds of bonkers and that’s why I love it. Batman Ninja captures the essence of the entire bat family as well as their villains while also throwing in every possible animé trope and/or quirk you can think of. Batman Ninja is a lot of fun. Watch with an open mind and try to not take it too seriously.

Hintayan ng Langit
Dan: Hintayan ng Langit first hit theaters during the 2018 QCinema International Film Festival last month. It’s about Lisang (Gina Pareño) who is stuck in purgatory. She then meets her ex-boyfriend Manolo (Eddie Garcia) who is apparently her new roommate. Lisang is already scheduled for passing to heaven, so Manolo’s presence kind of distracted her. It’s a fun and touching interpretation of death and kindling love. The film is an adaptation of Juan Miguel Severo’s one-act play at The Virgin Labfest in 2015 and 2016, and it’ll be shown in Philippine cinemas starting November 21.

TV shows to binge watch

Car Masters: Rust to Riches
Kevin: For all the car lovers out there, Car Masters: Rust to Riches will make you drool over its custom vehicle creations. It’s about Gotham Garage’s crew and how they buy old cars or car parts and turn them into a masterpiece in order to sell them for a higher value. They repeat this process until they reach a six-figure price in which they call it a day. It’s a good show to sit back to with a bottle of beer, while enjoying the intricate but fun process of turning rust to riches.

Magic for Humans
Kevin: Magic has always been a fascinating form of entertainment but Justin Willman, the host and performer of the show, injects it with life lessons or relates it to everyday life. It’s a reality and magic show with a fresh formula and will have you laughing while scratching your head at the same time trying to figure out how he does his performances. Oh, and its segment Magic for Susans is just one of the things I wait for every episode.

Terrace House: Aloha State
Rodneil: This season ran from 2016 to 2017, but it was only recently when I got around to watching it. Haven’t really had much recreation time so this was one of the two things that kept me sane over the last two weeks or so. It’s a relatively easy watch and there’s just something about Terrace House that gets you hooked. My favorite members are Lauren Tsai and Taishi Tamaki. Lauren is super talented and also easy on the eyes. Taishi’s arc is somewhat like a mini Ted Mosby from the TV series How I Met Your Mother. His goal in the show was to find “Shinuhodo No Koi” or a love worth dying for and his journey could actually become a movie all on its own.

Bodyguard
Dan: If you love action-thrillers, you should check out Bodyguard. It’s a six-part British drama series, so it’s not something you’ll have to binge watch for weeks. I actually finished it in just a few days because I just couldn’t get enough of the action. The series is set around Police Sergeant David Budd, a war veteran who is suffering from PTSD and is now working as a special protection officer. He’s assigned to protect the Home Secretary and the politics involved in the work drives the series wild. It’s currently streaming on Netflix outside the UK and Ireland.

Games to play

Ragnarok M: Eternal Love
Marvin: Ragnarok Online has finally made its way to mobile, and it’s been a major success so far. The Southeast Asian server for Ragnarok M: Eternal opened recently and it’s been loaded to the brim with both new and old players. A lot of the original mechanics are still around, such as the job classes and guild system, along with new tricks to make the game more smartphone-friendly, including auto-attacking and a straightforward user interface. As a returning player, I must say it’s been a smooth ride so far; let’s just hope it stays that way.

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
MJ: I first heard “Shallow” on A Star Is Born’s trailer, and I fell in love with it. It’s a country rock ballad that tackles things like wondering if you’re contented with who you are, finding confidence through a person, and diving headfirst in love without looking back.

La Vie en Rose by IZ*ONE
Vincenz: This song’s concept is a mix of cutesy and mature concepts with the inclusion of strong vocals plus a vibrant and groovy electro pop beat. Together with its catchy tune and lyrics which present one’s revelation and passion towards a person, the music video’s cinematography, visuals, and choreography are all astounding. The various colors represented by each member and other elements go well with the title of the album itself, COLOR*IZ (read as color-ize).

Yes or Yes by TWICE
Vincenz: If you still don’t know TWICE, better hurry and listen to their 10th title track that shows the diversity of the nine members. The visuals will catch both your eyes and heart but the catchy lyrics, asking one’s love interest to choose between Yes or Yes, make it more addictive. With its popularity, the song went off the charts with the music video itself gaining 31.4 million views in just 24 hours and is currently the seventh-fastest YouTube music video to do so.

Cities/places to visit

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Milan, Italy
Isa: I was in Milan for the OPPO RX17 Pro launch and was able to spend some time in the beautiful city. Despite being cold and relatively wet, Milan in autumn is still a great destination. Architecture is breathtaking and simply walking along the cobblestone streets is an experience in itself. The Milan Cathedral in Piazza Del Duomo, which took almost six centuries to complete, is a must-see.


Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!

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