Accessories

Fossil’s new hybrid smartwatch has an always-on e-ink display

It’s called the Fossil Hybrid HR

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Smartphone manufacturers originally saw smartwatches as an extension of the phone instead of a beautiful time-telling accessory that you wear on your wrist. If you’re a watch-wearing person, there was absolutely no reason to buy into the tech at the time. The first few models looked hideous and had terrible battery life.

Years later, fashion brands and watchmakers like Fossil saved the day and made buying a smartwatch seem like a good idea. Along with the usual Wear OS smartwatches, the brand also introduced hybrid smartwatches a few years back. These are the typical circular mechanical watches with removable batteries that you don’t have to charge, with a few useful Bluetooth functions.

In 2019, Fossil’s new generation of hybrid smartwatches feature an always-on e-ink display. This allows the watch to display more information like your heart rate, number of steps, weather information, and notifications.

While getting more information can be a good thing, having a display also means having a built-in rechargeable battery — 55 mAh to be exact. Fossil says it takes around two weeks before it needs charging, and about an hour for a full charge. Previous generations of Fossil Q Hybrid last 6-12 months before the batteries needed replacing.

Like previous generations, you can still do functions like control your music through the buttons of the watch, and change the straps as they come in standard 18mm or 22mm sizes.

At launch there are five Fossil Hybrid HR models — those with leather straps retail for US$195 and US$215 for stainless steel.

Accessories

10 gift ideas for the bookworm on your list

Gifts that are not books

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If you have friends or family who love to read, chances are other people will already give them books this holiday season. It’s that or they already bought the book they want to read next. If you want to give something different that they will appreciate, here are some other ideas to help you out:

Kindle

For the friend who has too many books but not enough shelves, get her the new Kindle. It’s also perfect for that friend who brings a book or two when traveling. She always managse to finish reading on the flight leaving herself book-less for the rest of the trip.

The new Kindle retails for US$ 89.99 and comes in black and white.

Kindle case

If she already has a Kindle, how about a case inspired by classic book covers? Not only will it protect her gadget from scratches, it also gives her the feeling of holding a book while reading. Smell of an actual book not included.

The case starts at GBP 25, and comes in varying sizes and covers.

Audible credits

Some people will always prefer reading over listening to audiobooks. For those who are open to the latter, Audible credits are a practical, yet thoughtful gift you can give. If you know of a specific title they want to listen to, there’s also an option to get that book as a gift either through your own Audible credits or using a credit card.

One credit starts at US$ 15, and you can choose to give up to 12 months worth of Audible credits.

Noise-cancelling earphones

A pair of noise cancelling earphones is one of the best gifts you can give this year not just to bookworms, but to almost anyone on your list. Bookworms will especially love being able to block any noise and concentrate on reading (or listening to) their book.

Plenty of great options came out this year, including the Sony WF-1000XM3, which retails for SG$ 349.

Bookends

Help decorate one’s home with cute bookends. For someone who lives in a smaller space, a multi-purpose bookend is your best bet — maybe one that doubles as a flower vase for the living room or a kitchen utensil holder. You can also get an upcycled one using old records. For a more personal touch, you can even do it yourself and you got yourself a crafty project this holiday season.

Lumio LED book lamp

Any bookworm will appreciate receiving a lamp to help them read when the sun starts to dip. What if you give them something in the shape of a book? They sure will love you more than they already do!

The Lumio LED book lamp comes in different finishes, and starts at US$ 150.

Laptop sleeve

Another gift idea for that special someone is a book-inspired sleeve to protect her laptop. Make it more personal by making her favorite cover made. You can even add the first and last pages of the book to make it feel more like one. There’s also an option to add a smaller but similar case for the charger and other accessories.

The laptop sleeve starts at $199 on Etsy, but is on sale at $59.70.

NYPL Library Card Pouch

The New York Public Library store has a ton of useful knickknacks you can buy as gifts. There’s a pouch inspired by the original library cards from the 1940’s that any bookworm will appreciate even if you bought it at the last minute!

The NYPL Library Card Pouch retails for US$ 15 for non-members.

 NYPL Library Card Socks

Another option is this cute pair of socks that will surely make any bookworm’s heart and feet warm this chilly season. It comes in small and large and is priced at US$12 for non-members.

Black NYPL Ruth Bader Ginsburg Tote Bag

Know someone inspired by the Notorious RBG? This tote could not be any more perfect. It can carry not just that heavy hardbound book, but her groceries or gym clothes as well!

The black tote bag retails for US$ 15 for non-members.

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Star Wars: The Rise of collabs with Samsung, adidas

The Force is strong with many brands

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Hype for Star Wars Episode XI: The Rise of Skywalker is reaching a fever pitch.

The final installment of the latest trilogy in the pop culture franchise is upon us. With it came a wave of Star Wars collaborations, merch, and everything else in between. Here’s a quick rundown of everything we spotted in no particular order.

adidas: Run with The Force 

The Star Wars X Ultraboost 19 running shoes received majority of the hype. Boost is life, after all. This collaboration came in two colorways: The X-Wing and the Millenium Falcon.

These kicks flew off the shelves so you might have a hard time getting your feet in them but fret not, Adidas actually has a few more Star Wars kicks that mostly flew under the radar.

If you’re looking to do more running you can check out the Nite Jogger with R2D2’s colors, or the AplhaEdge 4D shoe with more subtle Star Wars hints.

You play ball? The Harden Vol. 4, equipped with the Lightstrike cushioning, comes in the iconic purple lightsaber color. There’s also the D.O.N. Issue #1 Lightsaber blue and the Dame 5 Lightsaber Green.

There are also other collaborations with less popular adidas sneakers like the Pro Next 2019 which I copped for myself. Not into shoes? There’s also a bunch of shirts, joggers, and hoodies under the adidas Star Wars collection.

Dark side of The Force infused Samsung Galaxy Note 10+

If you rock with black and red then you’re sure to love the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Star Wars Special Edition. Samsung really embraced the Dark Side on this one with the design centered around Kylo Ren — grandson of the iconic Darth Vader.

This package also includes the Galaxy Buds and a special case that’s all Kylo Ren-themed.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

If you want to live your Jedi dreams there’s a pretty nifty way to do it through a video game. The Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order action-adventure game came out just a couple of months shy of the latest Star Wars movie.

It received rave reviews from various gaming websites. It’s easily one of the better Star Wars games in very recent memory. The game is available on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

United’s Star Wars Boeing 737 plane

This one’s a direct tie-in with the upcoming movie. Facing the plane, on its right is Resistance-themed with blue being the main highlight color. On its left is the First Order with red being the highlight.

The same is true inside with the insignia of the Resistance and the First Order on the plane’s seats. To book this flight, passengers can look up the aircraft’s tail number — N36272. You won’t be jumping to lightspeed but at least you’ll fly in style.

Cook with The Force

Williams Sonoma might not be the first brand you think of when it comes to geek stuff but the cookware company came through for Star Wars enthusiasts.

Available for pre-order right now and hitting stores on December 13 are the following: BB-8 styled Duo Mini 3QT that costs US$ 79.95. Meanwhile the Pot Duo 6QT comes in three variants: Darth Vader, R2-D2, and Stormtrooper. Each one costs US$ 99.95. Finally there’s the Pot Duo 8QT with a Chewbacca look. It’s the largest one and costs US$ 119.95.

The company even promises each one will have a unique custom recipe along with the packaging. These are the Darth Vader’s Beef Stew, BB-8 Shrimp Pasta, Dark Side Deviled Eggs, R2-D2 Rotisserie Herb Chicken, and Chewie’s Chili.

World Balance X Star Wars

In the Philippines, shoes and apparel brand World Balance also have a collaboration with the Star Wars franchise. They have everything from shoes, shirts, to caps, and bags.

They have an insane collection and can probably dress you up in all Star Wars-themed garb from head to toe.

Bonus: Baby Yoda Funko Pop

This one is more in line with the Disney+ Original series Star Wars: The Mandalorian but it’s also Star Wars so I’m putting it here anyway. Baby Yoda is currently challenging Baby Groot as the most adorable baby under the Disney’s properties.

If you want to have him all to yourself, you can do so by copping the baby Yoda Funko Pop. It comes in both the regular-sized Funko and one that’s 10-inch tall. But real talk, a friend says she prefers a baby Yoda plushie. Maybe we’ll get that at some point.

SEE ALSO: Star Wars gadgets and accessories gift guide

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be shown on theaters worldwide starting December 20.

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Huawei Freebuds 3 review: Best value wireless earbuds

Everything works as advertised

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True wireless earbuds with noise-cancellation sprouted like crazy in 2019. Not to be outdone, Huawei, along with a few other wearables, launched the Freebuds 3. And these earbuds are actually pretty darn good.

Comfy fit, on the fence about the look

Let’s get it out of the way before anything else. The Huawei Freebuds 3 looks a lot like Apple’s Airpods. In fact, the entire Freebuds line has looked like this since it’s first iteration.

But is it fair to reduce it as simply an AirPods knockoff? Not quite.

Looks-wise, I kind of get why they went with this design. Not everyone’s a fan of in-ear earbuds. Some feel they are too invasive.

I can definitely say that the in-ear ones feel more secure but the Freebuds can cling onto your ear just fine. The only time I saw one fall off was during a Huawei demo but that was only because a dancer wore it and she was moving pretty intensely.

Also, perhaps the only way to put all the tech that Huawei managed to pack in the Freebuds 3 is to have them look the way they do now. I’m personally not too wild about it, but that’s just me.

Noise-cancelling all star 

Speaking of “all the tech” in these earbuds, at the heart of it is the Kirin A1 chip. Made specifically for wearables, this is what enables a lot of what makes these earbuds great.

Chief of those features is the intelligent noise cancellation. I’m quite skeptical about noise cancellation claims especially on wireless earbuds, but the Freebuds 3 performs just about as good as advertised.

It doesn’t quite shut you out of your environment the way noise-cancelling headphones do. However, it does it well enough that your attention won’t easily be taken away when you have these on even when you’re in a crowded area.

The noise cancellation is still a tier and a half below the Sony WF-1000XM3 which I consider to be a superstar in that department. That said, the Freebuds 3 still does an awesome job and should be more than enough for most users.

Surprising bass, fantastic sound quality

The default bass setting on the Freebuds 3 is such a pleasant surprise. Coupled with the noise cancellation, it gives you such a full sound that if you close your eyes you’d almost feel like you’re surrounded by the music you’re listening to.

I wasn’t even playing bass heavy tracks when I noticed this. I was in a bit of a slow jams mood while trying these earbuds out and listened to tracks like Nice and Slow by Usher and I Wanna Know by Joe and man, the bass was really banging in a really good way.

This level of bass can be achieved in other true wireless earbuds but they’re usually not turned on by default. On the Freebuds 3, there isn’t any option to tweak the sound quality but I don’t imagine anyone needing to do this.

There is significant leak out of the audio though when you turn the volume to maximum. But I never felt the need to do this. Only tried it for the heck of it.

Easy pairing and controls

Pairing these are pretty straightforward, you only need to hold the button on the case for about two to five seconds to enter pairing mode. Make sure the case’s lid is open.

It’s even easier when your using a device that already has EMUI10. It’ll automatically find the Freebuds 3 once you pop the lid open. Similar to how Samsung Galaxy phones quickly detect the Galaxy Buds.

Controls are straightforward. Double tap on the left to turn on/off noise cancelling, tap on the right to play or pause, and double tap to skip to the next track. You can switch this up on the Huawei AI Life but that’s about the level of tweaking you can do on these.

I paired our review unit with both the iPhone 11 Pro and the Huawei P30 Pro. It’s worth noting that at the moment, you won’t be able to make these control changes on the Huawei AI Life/Smart Home app on iOS. Then again, if you’re using an iPhone, you’ll probably just get an AirPods or AirPods Pro anyway.

Is the Freebuds 3 your GadgetMatch? 

There’s a lot to love with the Freebuds 3. The noise cancellation is pretty good, sound quality is superb, and the carrying case is small enough to be pocketable but not too small that they’re easy to misplace.

The battery is also pretty darn good. I’ve only had to charge it once in my week with the device. Speaking of charging, you can do so through a USB-C cable which comes with the device on the box or through wireless charging.

My only real gripe is how it looks. I’m still not a fan of how Apple has normalized wireless earbuds with stems sticking out. I find it frustrating that it’s now somehow considered trendy and fashionable.

That said, if you like rocking these types of earbuds, that’s completely fine. Live and let live, right? But part of me is hoping the next version has a different look. These do come in two colors: Ceramic Black and Carbon White so you can at least go with the black one if you think the white looks too much like a knockoff.

At PhP 8,990 or roughly under US$ 200, these might just be the value upper tier true wireless earbuds with noise cancellation. Everything works as advertised and that is truly satisfying. It’s also currently available for pre-order at Abenson. The first 50 customers to register online will get a free Huawei Band 4e worth PhP 1,390. Sweet deal.

If you’re looking to splurge a little for a better audio experience, either for you or as a gift for someone else, then it’s hard not to recommend the Freebuds 3.

SEE ALSO: Huawei Freebuds 3: Give the gift of freedom this holiday season

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