Reviews

Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR review: Going back to e-ink

The lifestyle watch you never thought you needed!

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Years ago, smartwatches blended the beauty of analog watches and the future of cutting-edge technology. At the time, Pebble became the industry’s darling child after releasing quirky e-ink watches.

However, as we know now, the e-ink smartwatch has already surrendered to the more common screen-on-a-wrist wearable. Sadly, despite how much I wanted to, I was never able to buy into the Pebble craze. Today is a different story. Amid the current fitness tracker craze, lifestyle watches are still out there. And here’s one perfect for those in the market for it: the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR.

Light for the grind

Though the Jorn Hybrid HR looks like a premium wearable, it’s remarkably light. Anyone trying it out for the first time will notice how spry it feels on their wrist. Usually, watches irritate me enough that I have to take them off while I’m sitting down working. The Jorn was light enough that I felt no such compulsion. On my relatively thin wrists, the smartwatch looks and feels like a regular watch.

Speaking of looks, there’s nothing simpler than a three-button bezel on a watch. The Jorn doesn’t try to dazzle with out-of-this-world looks. It’s as simple as they come. Outside of the simple circular bezel, the watch sports three configurable pushers, in place of a more traditional crown. Inside, the watch still has printed hour markers while a smaller circle houses the e-ink screen.

As expected, the watch’s straps can be easily changed. My watch came with a black leather strap. Though elegant on its own, one niggle I do have is that it already has signs of wear from a few times wearing it.

Form meets function

The Jorn Hybrid HR does not try to be an all-around fitness tracker. That bodes well for its believability as a lifestyle watch. Though the watch does come with a step counter and a heartbeat tracker, the Jorn is a lifestyle watch at its core.

It comes with your standard array of smartwatch features including notifications, music control, weather, stopwatch, and timer. If you’re really pressed for it, it also comes with a dedicated workout mode. (In my opinion, it’s a misuse if you take this to the gym, rather than a more dedicated fitness tracker.)

You can easily customize which features will attach to which pusher. You can also configure watch face configurations according to your flavor of the day.

Operating the watch is a breeze. Apart from its manual configurations, the three pushers function as the up, down, and okay buttons. It’s easy to get used to.

As a lifestyle watch, the Jorn’s minimal palette of features is enough to get you through a day. It’s exactly what I’d expect from a lifestyle watch. The Jorn is truly a lesson in minimalism.

Further, because it’s so minimal, the Jorn never forces you to take it everywhere. Though it can track your sleep, I never felt compelled to take it to situations where I’d rather be watch-free, unlike a heaping of today’s fitness-oriented smartwatches. Having the option to take a watch off is so essential today when we don’t go out as often anymore. To its credit, this isn’t a 24/7 watch.

Help me connect

While the smartwatch itself is a lifestyle-oriented marvel, Skagen’s connectivity app needs a bit of tweaking. Though the app isn’t as arcane as other smartwatch apps, Skagen still keeps it fitness-oriented.

From the get-go, the app is configured to help you with workouts even if the smartwatch isn’t built for that. Personally, I didn’t find much use for the app’s Challenge mode with this watch. In fact, the app’s opt-out Auto Workout Detection got irritating fast.

Further, there aren’t any ways to fully customize how the face looks from the app. While there are six downloadable faces to choose from, the selection pales in comparison to more varied selections and customizations of other watches.

You can’t turn this into a quirky Mickey Mouse watch, unfortunately. Naturally, the small selection owes much to the limited e-ink display. However, some form of customization would’ve been welcome.

That said, the app itself is remarkably clean and easy to navigate. Connecting to my watch wasn’t a problem either. It connected to my phone easily and seamlessly as soon as I put the watch on. Navigating the app to get where I want to be is also simple.

Power for days

According to Skagen, the Jorn should last around two weeks. On its own, a two-week battery life for a watch is already impressive. However, if you use the watch as I do, you can easily churn out a lot more usage out of the device. At the time of this writing, the watch’s battery is still at a workable 32 percent. The last time I charged it was around a month ago. In today’s work-from-home world, you’ll likely crunch similar numbers as you take it out for a spin every once in a while.

Is this your GadgetWatch?

The Jorn Hybrid HR retails for US$ 195. For a smartwatch of its design, it is worth every penny. Whether you’re just a work-from-home individual or live an active lifestyle, the smartwatch can power you through all the times you need to go out for a walk, a date, or a private occasion.

Lifestyle

Amazon Kindle PaperWhite Signature Edition Review

The best Kindle for every bookworm?

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It’s been a while ever since the Amazon Kindle PaperWhite had a refresh. To be particular about it, its 10th-Generation model was released last 2018 — merely three years ago!

This 2021, the new 11th-Gen Kindle PaperWhite offers better upgrades including a larger and brighter display, as well as USB-C and wireless charging support.

But are those enough to make you upgrade? Or should you wait for the next version of Kindle Oasis instead?

Head over to our unboxing and in-depth review of the Amazon Kindle PaperWhite and watch it in 4K too.

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Accessories

AirPods 3 Unboxing and Review

Watch before you buy!

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If you’ve been holding your money for so long just to buy the new AirPods 3 (also called the AirPods 3rd Generation), this is your chance to finally get one.

But with the absence of removable ear tips and Active Noise Cancellation from the AirPods Pro, would you still consider buying the pair?

Head over to our AirPods 3 Unboxing and Review to help your impulsive self.

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Gaming

Hot Wheels Unleashed review: A childhood dream realized

It’s action-packed and rather nostalgic

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Hot Wheels Unleashed

As a kid, I wanted all kinds of toys whenever we went to toy stores in the city. One of the very first toys I had an obsession over was Hot Wheels. From collecting cars to building tracks in the living room, it became the quintessential set of toys that got me into racing games all this time.

When Hot Wheels Unleashed was released, I instantly knew that this was a game I didn’t want to miss. As someone who plays a ton of racing games, this one felt right at home next to Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled. Unlike CTR:NF, the nostalgia I felt for this game was more on the side of “playing my toys on a virtual screen” type of thing.

However, if you’re looking for another game to help you pass the time, is this a game worth considering?

A racing game at its core

As with most games involving toy cars, Hot Wheels Unleashed feels right at home as a racing game. It even comes with some of the most standard game modes you can think of for any racing game, so you won’t necessarily miss out if you’re a racing game fan. Where this game sets itself apart is in its easy-to-grasp game mechanics.

Usually, all you have to do is drive around the course and win 1st Place by outspeeding and outsmarting (in some situations) your opponents. You still do that but with some key differences, particularly towards boosting. Honestly, I like the fact that boosts are activated by button pushes and accumulated by drifting. To me, it’s friendly even to new players getting into racing games.

Hot Wheels Unleashed

The other thing I like is the fact that each Hot Wheels toy car comes with its own cart stats, and not just a general one all throughout. This also gives you an incentive to try and get every available model in the game and try them out for yourself. Furthermore, you can even upgrade these stats using Gears, and customize their Livery to however you like.

Creativity and originality in track design

Every racing game needs some interesting tracks to race around, especially with something like Hot Wheels. In Hot Wheels Unleashed, you have access to 5 main backdrops, each with about 8-9 different tracks that come with their own surprises. From high-arching loops to acid pits, each track will have you doing things a bit differently each time you race.

In fact, the first thing I noticed was that the elements in the tracks are quite similar to the actual models in those track builder sets. The designers did an incredible job with maximizing the entire backdrop to produce tracks with enough twists and turns along the way. Also, I would even argue that these tracks let you play around with the driving mechanics.

Now, I have some good news and bad news for you on these tracks. The bad news is that when you start the game, most of the tracks are locked as in-game transactions. If you wanted to unlock them the easy way, just pay a few bucks to get in-game currency and buy them.

However, the good news is you can unlock them by completing the Hot Wheels City Rumble mode. Although it will be an immense grind on your part, but I honestly think it’s worth it!

Wait, you can make your own tracks?!

Yes, you read that right: Hot Wheels Unleashed also allows you to create your own tracks to race on with your friends online. See, one unique mode to the game is the Track Builder, and I guess the name is self-explanatory. To be honest, this game mode was the best and it actually brings me back to my childhood.

Once you start the game mode, you basically have a blank canvas to work with, depending on the main backdrop you choose. After choosing your desired backdrop, you have a variety of track builder pieces to choose from and customize. Also, it even comes with your set of obstacles and boost pads to add some flavor to your tracks.

I absolutely enjoyed going on Track Builder as someone who collected Hot Wheels track sets before. Basically, you can create some of the most death-defying tracks that your younger self could not afford to before. Seriously, Hot Wheels track builder sets are expensive, and this game basically lets you experience this without spending a hefty amount.

Some low points

Much like most racing games, this one doesn’t come with its own set of shortcomings. To no one’s surprise, this game comes with a Hot Pass that allows you to earn more cars, tracks, and track builder sets. The good thing about it is, well, it’s more content at your disposal. At the time of writing, they’re currently running one with Batman vehicles as the main rewards,

The thing I don’t like about it is that you have to pay for it. I genuinely feel that this is something that would have been better off as a Battle Pass-type of package instead of paid DLC. I mean, it’s additional content that people also want to try out but with a rather hefty price tag. Maybe if they did it this way, people would continue to grind out the game.

Another thing that felt lacking in my eyes was the Basement, particularly the customization aspect.

I get it, it’s another main backdrop for your tracks and you can work with a ton of elements when creating your own. However, I didn’t like that the customization was limited to just the exterior design. Honestly,  I was looking for more customization options like moving the furniture around.

A roaring good time

Hot Wheels Unleashed is a racing game that feels right at home with the best of them. From a vast selection of carts to creative and unique track design, it feels fresh to anybody trying to get into racing games. Also, if you grew up playing your Hot Wheels car collection, this takes you back to simpler times.

Again, it’s not perfect and hopefully with upcoming patches, the game does get better. However, they missed out on some opportunities to make it a worthwhile game to play for any occasion. Sure, if you had money to burn, this wouldn’t be an issue; for others, however, they want a lot more without spending too much.

Overall, this game will give you a roaring good time, especially when you just need some down time from all the stress. What made it even more special for me was that this game pretty much made one of my childhood dreams a reality!

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