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Home News Smartwatches still just aren't for me (and that's okay)

Smartwatches still just aren’t for me (and that’s okay)

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Whether you’re after bone conduction headsets, AR glasses, smart rings with NFC tags inside, or even smart belts, there’s a wearable gadget for just about everybody. By far, the most popular form factor is the smartwatch, with entries from tech brands like Samsung and Apple, and even long-running fashion brands like Fossil.

I’ve tested and reviewed quite a few smartwatches in the past, including both Wear OS and Tizen offerings, and I’ve caught myself on more than one occasion wishing the Apple Watch worked with Android so I could enjoy the bevy of excellent (though wildly overpriced) strap options and that delightful Taptic Engine.

The thing is, even if the Apple Watch became Android-compatible tomorrow, or Wear OS got significantly better, it wouldn’t change that most of my reluctance around smartwatches is more of a mental block than a software or hardware one.

Smartwatches make me feel more glued to a screen than my phone ever has.

Most people won’t argue that the vast majority of people spend too much time on their phones, and while I don’t think that’s as serious of an issue as some make it out to be, I do my best to put my phone down in the appropriate contexts.

I never have my phone out during date nights with my fiancee, and I try not to have it out much during events like concerts or press briefings.

But any time I wear a smartwatch, I feel completely trapped. It’s easy enough for me to just ignore my phone when it buzzes in my pocket and check back later, but when the notification is staring me in the face from right on my wrist, it’s harder to ignore. It’s right there. And on especially busy days where I’m constantly getting notifications from emails, texts, social media, and so on (usually during trade shows like CES), I catch myself staring at my wrist more than I ever stare at my phone.

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Part of that is probably because the screen on a smartwatch is so small that it can only show one notification at a time, meaning it takes longer to go through a batch of notifications all at once — though I’m hesitant to blame this problem on hardware when it really boils down to a personal lack of discipline when it comes to endless notifications.

Smartwatches are still a great technology for most people.

The reality is that smartwatches are useful in a wide variety of ways, ranging from small conveniences to potentially life-saving features. They’re great for checking notifications while your hands are occupied, which I find useful while washing the dishes. Most also have some local storage and support Bluetooth headphones so you can stream music during a run and leave your phone behind.

On a more serious note, the same sensors and heart-rate monitor that aid in fitness tracking can be used to detect when you’ve fallen, and some smartwatches, like the most recent Apple Watch and Withings Move, even feature an electrocardiograms (or ECG) to detect irregular heartbeats. While not as accurate as the much larger, more expensive dedicated equipment you’ll find elsewhere, having the feature built into a watch has saved a few people from potentially far worse situations.

I’m sticking with my mechanical watch for the time being, but I think smartwatches do a lot more good for its users than bad, and I look forward to seeing more of them — like the Skagen Falster 3 — in 2020.

Best for most people

Galaxy Watch Active 2

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$269 at Amazon

My favorite smartwatch of 2019

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 packs a clean design, a great-looking display, and Samsung’s excellent Tizen OS, all at a relatively affordable price. You can get it in a variety of colors, and swap the bands for a sportier or dressier look.

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InvisibleShield Disinfecting Wipes review

There’s really no way around it, we live in a different world right now. A global pandemic has taken the lives of nearly 200,000 Americans in roughly six months.The majority of us are doing what we can to be a bit cleaner than we were previously. That includes washing our hands regularly, wearing masks out in public, and just doing the best we can to not spread a disease we may not even know we have.With that said, we need to remember that the thing we touch the most during the course of our day needs to be cleaned, too. I’m talking, of course, about our phones.There’s been an uptick of new devices such as mophie and InvisibleShield UV sanitizers that promise to sanitize your smartphone and pretty much whatever else you can fit inside. Heck, some of them even charge your phone when you’re done sanitizing.Let’s say you’re nowhere near your UV sanitizer and your child hands you the phone with their germ riddled hands. After you’re done chasing them around with hand sanitizer you still need to take care of your phone.You can’t exactly wipe your smartphone down with a Clorox wipe. I mean, I guess you can, but they’re not made with that incredibly expensive slab of glass in mind. That’s where the InvisibleShield Disinfecting Wipes come in handy.Available in packs of 10, 25, or 500 for $4.99, $9.99, and $69.99, respectively, they’re like Wet Ones designed for phones. Throw a couple of these in your purse, pocket, or backpack and whenever you need to ensure your electronic devices are clean, just give them a good wipe down.The AndroidGuys team was provided the opportunity to test these babies out and I jumped at the chance. Having two goobers of my own, one of which that loves his tablet, I figured if anyone could put these to the test, it would be my very own little germ factory.The wipes themselves are pretty small and are packaged very similarly to your standard Fresh Naps or a Zeiss lens wipe. Although they are on the smaller side, they have enough juice in them to clean two smartphones, or maybe a tablet.They’re not just for smartphones, you can wipe down just about any nonporous surface. What made me so excited to get these was the fact they won’t damage the oil-resistant coating on your smartphone or tablet screens.I would say the convenience factor alone is enough to get the InvisibleShield Disinfecting Wipes. You can pretty much keep them anywhere and have them handy any time you need them.I love having the peace of mind of knowing my smartphone is clean clean. It’s just one less thing I have to worry about. I’ll definitely be buying more of the InvisibleShield disinfecting wipes as the price is just too good. If you grab that 500 pack it comes out to about $0.14 per wipe. Sold.Learn more about the InvisibleShield Disinfecting Wipes at the ZAGG/InvisibleShield website where they’re available for purchase. You can also find the wipes at carriers and retailers like Verizon, AT&T, and Staples.

Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC Traveller Headphones Review

Up for review today are the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones from Beyerdnyamic. Priced about $250, you can get your hands on them today.How do they sound? Are they comfortable? What about the app experience? Read on to learn what we thought about these headphones.DesignAt first glance, there isn’t anything too special about the Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones. They are mainly made of plastic with accents of artificial leather on the padded earcups and headband.However, once you turn them on the light show begins with hidden lights inside of the earcups. The ring of light inside each earcup is activated by a sensor when removed and helps the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones truly stand out. It is unfortunate that you rarely get to enjoy this splash of light though, because most of the time it will be completely hidden while you are wearing them.Not only do the lights look cool, but they also serve a purpose. Taking off the headphones and glancing at the color informs you of the current battery level, Bluetooth connection, and even which side is left or right.Beyerdynamic has included rotating earcups that swivel on the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones. This design helps make them fold up into a compact shape to fit in the included case, as well as making them more comfortable to wear on your head or around your neck when not in use.ComfortThe Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones use memory foam on the headband and the earpads, and unfortunately, both are inadequate in my opinion. The sparse level of padding on the headband is most apparent due to the heft of the headphones. You can really start to feel it on the top of your head after extended periods of time. The cushioning on the ear cups also left a bit to be desired. During my listening sessions, I could feel the inside of the headphones grazing up against my ears, which lead to some early-onset ear fatigue.I wouldn’t classify the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones as uncomfortable by any means–but a little extra cushioning would have made a massive difference–especially if you plan on wearing these for long periods of time.User ExperienceThe Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones incorporate touch-sensitive controls on the right earpad. Touch-sensitive controls have never been one of my favorites, but they work extremely well here. The most common commands include double-tapping to play/pause music and swipes to skip songs or adjust the volume. I found myself using these gestures often, especially the swipes, because of how convenient and reliable they are to use.One issue I ran into while using the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones, was that they wouldn’t consistently power on and connect when sliding the power button. This happened more than a handful of times and required me to slide the switch back to off and back to Bluetooth up to one or two more times before it would connect. Perhaps this was user error, but I feel headphones should not be this difficult to power on.Another minor gripe of mine, is that in order to update the firmware on the headphones, it required using a computer. This is the first time I’ve ever had to update headphones that didn’t utilize the app on the phone, and it seemed like a bit of an oversight to not include this capability. Especially when Beyerdynamic has a well-designed app for the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones.AppThe MIY app helps enhance your experience with the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones by allowing you to change the color of the light in the earcups, adjust the sensitivity of the touch controls, personalize the audio for your ears, and more.In order to tailor fit the sound signature to your ears, the MIY app uses a hearing test. Beyerdynamic is not the first to try this, and my experience with these types of customizations has been mixed in the past. As far as the test itself, I found it to be more similar to playing a game, where your reaction time was being tested more than your hearing. I’d love for Beyerdynamic to tweak this to make it easier to take the test more accurately.Regardless, the results from the MOSAYC sound personalization were actually positive in my experience. I found the adjustment elevated the mids and added a bit more depth to the sound overall. That’s far better than I can say for some others I’ve tried, so good job Beyerdynamic.Unfortunately, the MIY app does come up short on a couple of features. For starters, there is no way to control active noise cancellation. That means, you cannot enable or disable it from the app, nor can you adjust the level of cancellation being used. This is a very common setting for headphones that include ANC, and I was disappointed to find it missing here.Another feature I would have loved to see is an equalizer. Sure, you can rely on the hearing test to adjust the audio automatically, but some of us like to tweak the equalizer manually for our own preferences.One unique feature from the MIY app that I’ve never seen before, is a way to monitor how much strain you’ve put on your ears for the day. I assume this is in an effort to protect your hearing, because it gives you statistics based on how long you’ve been listening and at how loud of a volume. It then provides you with tips such as, “Feel free to turn the volume up a bit.” I can’t say I would make much use of this feature, but if you’re someone concerned about your hearing, this may be useful for you.Sound QualityOverall, I was impressed with the sound quality of the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones. There was plenty of detail in the highs, although they were a little reserved so you won’t get an overly bright or crisp sound.The soundstage was fairly wide, giving plenty of space for the instruments to breathe and provide separation, making it possible to hear all the layers in each track.Finally, the bass was strong without being overpowering. As someone who enjoys a little extra kick of bass, I really enjoyed this. It may not be enough for bass heads, but if you prefer a little more in the low-end then these headphones won’t disappoint.ANCThe Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones do a decent job at muting noise with active noise cancellation turned on. It’s not quite as good as flagship models from Bose and Sony, but it’s good enough. As long as you have the volume set to 40% or above, it should be enough to drown out repetitive noises in the background between the passive and active noise cancellation it provides.Battery LifeBeyerdynamic rates the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones for a whopping 45 hours of playback time without ANC and 24.5 hours with ANC enabled. The majority of the time I was using them with ANC off and the battery life measures up to Beyerdynamic’s claims.When it came time to charge them up, I was pleased to see that the Lagoon ANC Traveller headphones went with USB-C over micro USB. This has become more common in recent years, but I’m still thrilled when I don’t have to dig out a micro USB cable when a new gadget comes in.If you ever do run out of juice on the go, don’t worry, because there is a 3.5mm headphone jack you can use as a back up. That is assuming your phone still has a jack, or that you didn’t forget or lose your dongle.Final ThoughtsThis was my first time with a pair of Beyerdynamic headphones, and overall, I have to say I was impressed. There is a lot of competition in this price range, and Beyerdynamic has done a fantastic job of combining stellar audio quality, smart features, and a long-lasting battery.At the same time, they were also able to undercut other major players like Sony and Bose with a price of only $249. If you’re looking for a high-quality pair of ANC over the ear headphones that won’t break the bank, then I’d have no hesitation recommending the Lagoon ANC Traveller from Beyerdynamic.Buy from Amazon Buy from Beyerdynamic

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