So I bought a new smart watch while I was overseas.
By overseas I mean Norfolk Island, although it’s just 1600km or so from the Australian mainland.
It was one of those spur of the moment things. I didn’t really need another watch. I have several already, but this one was on special and, well – you can’t have too many watches.
The Fossil Q Marshal Gen 2 is a good looking watch and one that looks like a real watch, not some geeky toy.
It set me back a modest $A255 duty free, but the Q Marshal goes for considerably more than that on line.
After getting it home, though, I’m beginning to wonder if I have bitten off more than I can chew – this watch could be smarter than me.
Like my mobile phone you have to charge it at night and again like my mobile you can alter the appearance electronically, with a zillion different watch face designs to download.
It’s an Android based device that can do a lot of things my phone can, either by itself or in tandem with the phone – I just have to learn how it’s done.
As a brand Fossil makes fashionable, affordable watches that offer plenty of bling and are fun to wear, without worrying too much about losing or damaging them.
It’s not Fossil’s first foray into the smart watch arena.
You might remember the wrist PDA from 2003, a forerunner of today’s smart watches that ran the Palm OS.
Although I can’t say I owned one the Q Marshal is not my first Fossil, but at 45mm is a little smaller than the others which is a little disappointing.
Because big is better, especially when it comes to smart watches, because more real estate means more precious screen space – screen space as you can imagine is limited.
What it gives away in size, however, the Q Marshal more than makes up for in functionality.
Powered by Android Wear 2.0, the watch is compatible with phones running Android 4.3 and higher as well as iPhone 5/iOS 9+, but the features supported could vary by platform.
All devices feature Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy with wireless B, G and N connectivity.
Using Bluetooth the watch remains connected to my phone and when I receive notifications they are repeated on my watch – both visually and audibly.
With a built-in speaker and microphone, you can even answer phone calls with the watch – although I’ve haven’t been game enough to try this yet.
This microphone means the watch will also respond to voice commands, with Google Assistant ready and waiting – just hold the power button and say “Ok Google”.
Find answers and get things done even when your hands are full. Reply to a friend that you’re running late, remind yourself to call mum or ask for directions.
What it doesn’t and perhaps it should is a heart rate monitor and built-in GPS – but with activity tracking, it can still keep track of my everyday accomplishments including steps, distance and calories burned.
For example, in my other life as a humble courier, I easily clock up 15,000 steps in a day (a fact I’m grateful for because I’m being paid to lose weight).
But, after seeing this number of steps was consistent, I decided it was safer to no longer wear the watch at work because it could easily be damaged – especially the watch face (scratch resistant or not).
Like a phone you can fit screen protectors to watches, either plastic film or tempered glass – but the trick is working out what size to get.
The specs don’t say what size it is and even Fossil support couldn’t tell me when I contacted them – they suggested I measure it!
LOL. Seriously? If they don’t know, who the hell will?
I tried one tempered glass screen, purchased cheaply from eBay, that turned out to be slightly larger than the actual watch face, but was otherwise okay.
It quickly built up a halo of dust on the exposed underside, which wasn’t a major drama in itself- but a couple of days later I realised it had fallen off.
Back to the drawing board.
The other thing I did was purchase a second watch band.
The Q Marshal features a clever quick release system that allows you to change bands quickly and easily. So I got a nice leather strap that combined with a change of watch face makes it dressier when required.
A single charge in most cases lasts an entire day and to recharge the thing you sit it on a small disc that is attached to the end of a USB cable.
Sounds easy but the system can be finicky unless the watch is sitting in exactly the right position otherwise it won’t charge fully – mind you I’m still trying to work out exactly what the correct position is.
Like a mobile phone you can download plenty of apps for the watch from the Play Store, many of which are free – others come at a small charge.
A real party trick is to download a new watch face with your phone and watch it magically replace the current one on the watch – it’s pretty cool (at least the first few times).
Q Marshal is not the most expensive nor the most sophisticated smart watch available, but it looks like a real watch and is kind of cool.
It’s as good a place as any to put a toe in the water.
It and its competitors are sure to get better with each generation.
In fact, as we speak, the next round of Gen 3 watches have already hit stores.
Physically they are slightly smaller and slimmer than mine, with three side mount buttons instead of one – like a traditional sports watch.
The watch faces also occupies the whole screen this time around, losing the small squared off section at the bottom of the screen that people found annoying.
Other than that the specs are the same and both watches seem to do exactly the same thing.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Storage: 4GB Flash
Memory: RAM is 512 MB
Operating System: Android Wear™
Sensors: G-Sensor, Gyroscope
Compatibility: Android™ OS 4.3+ or iPhone 5/iOS 9+