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Home Reviews Skagen Falster review: the prettiest Android Wear watch comes with some caveats

Skagen Falster review: the prettiest Android Wear watch comes with some caveats

Smartphone manufacturers might be taking a break from making new Android Wear devices, but that doesn’t mean the platform is dying — not by a long shot. As one of Android Wear’s biggest supporters over the past few years, Fossil has been quite vocal in its commitment to the platform.

Iconic Fossil brand Skagen revealed its very first touchscreen smartwatch at CES this year. It’s one of the most minimalistic Android Wear watches to date, both aesthetically and in its feature set. That’s why it might not be for everyone.

Review notes: I’ve been using the Skagen Falster on a regular basis for over two weeks, running Android Wear version 2.8.0 on the November 6, 2017 security patch. The Google Pixel 2 XL has been my smartphone companion of choice for the duration of this review.Show More

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Like Skagen’s non-smart watches, the Falster is understated, simple, and gorgeous. Its simplicity is reminiscent of the first-generation Moto 360, and it succeeds in not looking too much like a smartwatch.

That’s partially thanks to the full-round OLED display, which is surrounded by an IP67-rated, 42 mm stainless steel watch casing. There’s also an ambient light sensor around the display, which means there’s no flat tire to be seen. The display is bright, crisp, and easy to see both indoors and out.

Skagen Falster review

Skagen Falster review
Skagen Falster review
Skagen Falster review

The 42 mm case will fit well on most average sized wrists, and the 12 mm thickness of the casing means it’s not too bulky. It feels like you’re wearing a normal, analog watch.

On the right side of the case sits a single button, which is my favorite part about the Falster aside from the minimalistic design of the watch. It gives you a bit of resistance when pressed, almost like you’re pressing down on a spring. This level of quality is found in most aspects of the watch. It’s clear Skagen spent most of its time on making the Falster’s hardware top notch.

It’s clear Skagen spent most of its time on making the Falster’s hardware top notch.

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The button is great, until you realize it isn’t a rotating dial. If you’ve ever used the dial on the LG Watch Style or the digital crown on the Apple Watch, you know how nice it is to scroll through menus without having to gunk up the watch screen with your finger.

The Falster is available in four different styles — black leather, brown leather, steel mesh, and rose gold mesh. If you’d like to switch up the look of your watch at any point, you can swap out the strap with another 20 mm watch strap, too.

Skagen Falster review
Skagen Falster review
Skagen Falster review
Skagen Falster review

Skagen’s included watch faces all share a similar look — minimal, sleek, and modern. I’m partial to the simple default digital watch face, and all included faces can also be customized with different colors and shortcuts.

Performance is one of this watch’s strongest qualities — I’ve noticed little to no lag throughout the entire review period.

Under the hood, the Falster is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip, which also powers most modern Android Wear watches. Performance is one of this watch’s strongest qualities — I barely noticed any lag throughout the entire review period.

Skagen Falster review

It won’t last multiple days on a single charge, so you’ll need to charge it every night. I haven’t once been able to kill the battery in a day, but I usually take it off at night with around 15-25 percent battery remaining.

But what Android Wear watch actually lasts that long? At least this one’s got a cute little animation that plays when you place the watch on the magnetic charger.

Skagen didn’t get everything right on the hardware front, though. The company didn’t find it necessary to include some of the best features found on other Android Wear devices. It doesn’t have an NFC chip, so you can’t use Google Pay. It doesn’t have a built-in GPS or heart rate monitor, so navigation and activity tracking are out of the question. There’s no LTE connectivity either, which means you need to stick around your phone or your saved Wi-Fi network to get a connection. These things aren’t completely necessary in a smartwatch, but any one of them might be a make-or-break feature for some people.

Skagen Falster review

Skagen Falster review
Skagen Falster review
Skagen Falster review

The smartwatch is powered by the latest version of Android Wear, 2.8.0. That means you get access to the system-wide dark theme, better notification glanceability, plus all the other great Android Wear features like Google Assistant, the ability to delete or reply to messages, and much more. As with every Android Wear device, you can also download any third-party watch app or watch face that you’d like.

The Falster is only for a certain user. It’s not for technology nerds who want to pay for things with their wrists or answer calls without taking out their phone. It’s for people who want a smartwatch but don’t want to sacrifice aesthetics.

This simple, no-frills Wear watch is pricey. The leather band versions currently go for $275, while the mesh band options are $295. That’s a high price tag for a smartwatch that doesn’t have many advanced features, but at least it has its looks.

Would you buy this watch, or would you pass? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Next: Your guide to fashion smartwatches


Sennheiser GSP 670 headset review: premium price, subpar performance

The search for a new headset can really get frustrating. Sure, there are a million options on Amazon for under $50, but when you want something premium, where do you start? If you’re looking for the best possible audio quality, you start with the Sennheiser GSP 670 and hope you can find it on sale because these things don’t come cheap.The GSP 670 is a premium headset with sound quality and a price tag to match. Launching at $350, you’re paying for the Sennheiser name and quality. We’ve tested multiple Sennheiser headsets throughout the years and have almost always come away impressed. That’s the same story here.The first thing you may notice about this headset is just how big it is. It looks big before you pick it up and it feels big once you put it on. Coming in at just shy of 400g, it has the weight to make those extremely long gaming sessions taxing, but luckily Sennheiser included one of the best headbands I’ve seen in a headset yet. It’s big and comfortable without looking too ridiculous.The earcups are equally nice with large plus fabric cups that will keep your ears away from the driver covers. If you prefer leatherette cups you’ll want to find another option, but I did find these to be one of the most comfortable headsets to just sit and listen to music on. The clamping force is just right (although uneven; more on that later) and the earcups provide a wonderful seal to keep the noise of the world away from your ears.One the outside of the headset, there’s a small tactile wheel to adjust chat volume if you’re using a gaming console, a large volume knob, and a multifunction button that will provide audio prompts for battery level and put you into pairing mode when you hold it down. The only thing we’re missing here is a physical switch to move between Bluetooth and 2.4ghz connection standards, and we’ll tell you why that matters in a bit.The microphone is on the left side of the headset and provides a nice tactile click when you flip it all the way up. This is how you mute your microphone and comes in handy when you need to have a quick conversation and get back to whatever you were doing before.I wish I could report that the microphone provided better audio quality but I was pretty disappointed. It’s been a struggle to find a wireless headset that really gives great performance in this area (I’m guessing there’s a bandwidth issue) and the Sennheisers fall disappointingly short. I think they sound much the same as every other headset released in the last decade, which isn’t saying a lot.Both Bluetooth and 2.4ghz connection standards are here. Plugging the USB dongle into my computer, the headset paired almost instantly and opened up a world of opportunity to tune through the Sennheiser app. There are options to tune your EQ, how the microphone sounds, and even provide a noise gate in case you have a noisy background. I didn’t find much difference in how the microphone sounded using these options so hopefully, they continue to be tuned in future updates.The sound that comes through these headphones is a completely different story. This has been one of the best audio experiences I’ve had in my time reviewing tech. I’d put it up there with the Sony WH-1000xm3 in terms of enjoyment. Where Sony offers amazing noise cancelation, the Sennheiser GSP 670 takes the crown in terms of audio quality.I found music pleasingly bass-y without feeling like I’m slogging through the mud just to listen. Mids are very clear while highs are crisp without being piercing.I just wish I enjoyed wearing these more. I can’t overstate how heavy these things are. At just under 400g, they’re one of the heavier headsets I’ve tested and it can be exhausting during long sessions. With 16 hours of battery life, those sessions can last all night, but you’ll need breaks.Additionally, I don’t like wearing these because of how the cups sit on my head. While the cups themselves are large enough that my ear doesn’t touch anything, the clamping is uneven and annoying. You can use the sliders in the headband to adjust your clamp, but I always end up with more pressure on the bottom of the cups than at the top.Frankly, these don’t look great and certainly don’t look like something I’d pay over $300 for. They’re big and bulky with muted colors and an … aggressive? design. I’m not entirely sure what to call this design language but there are definitely better-looking options on the market. This won’t matter to some, but for those who do care, it’s a bit of a killer and makes the cost harder to justify.ConclusionThere are always trade-offs when you’re using a wireless headset. Sennheiser smartly did not skimp on the audio quality and if you’re looking for a wireless headset that sounds great, this is definitely where you want to start. I put it at the top of the list in that respect.But, where it falls apart is pretty much everywhere else. Tradeoffs become pretty obvious when you use these for more than a few hours.Yep, they’re built solidly and the plastic design means they’ll hold up to some abuse. But, these look cheaper than competing options like the Astro A50s and Arctis Pro Wireless. Plus, as I’ve said a few times, they’re heavy.It’s awesome that they have both 2.4ghz and Bluetooth standards. But there’s no way to manually switch between them and the second that your computer plays audio via the USB dongle, the Bluetooth cuts out completely. If you’re using these to take a phone call or listen to music on your phone and you accidentally click on a YouTube link on your computer, say goodbye to your audio. This would be an easy fix with a manual switch and we hope to see that in a future revision.Best over-ear headphones (spring 2020)I can’t state enough how crappy the audio from the mic is. Maybe I’m spoiled by streamers who invest hundreds and hundreds of dollars into their audio equipment, but this sounds like every headset I’ve heard the last decade of gaming and that’s pretty disappointing.If your voice quality matters to you at all, I’d suggest getting a standalone mic. But you have to ask yourself if you’re grabbing something like a Blue Yeti, is there a justification for the GSP 670 when you can buy a wireless headset for far cheaper?I know it probably looks like I hate the Sennheiser GSP 670 but I don’t. In true dad fashion, I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. While they’re best in class in terms of audio quality, the things they miss on are a killer and make them harder to recommend over other competitors.After a bit of searching, I’ve found the Sennheiser GSP 670 around $300 and sometimes cheaper on sale. I think if you can find these cheaper than that, go for it. Your ears will thank you. At full price, they’re a tough sell.Buy the Sennheiser GSP 670 at Amazon

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