Smartwatch Round Up 2021

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Introduction

I’ve been into wearables since they hit the market with force, which is to say, 2014-2015; or about 6 years.  I jumped on this category of devices pretty quickly, as I knew… I KNEW, that this category of device was going to make a serious impact on how we organized our day, how we communicated with friends and loved ones, how we exercise, and keep ourselves well.  I thought smartwatches were so important, and 2015 was such a banner year for the introduction of smartwatches, I spent the year writing a smartwatch round-up of sorts.

In fact, I wrote feature reviews on a number of different devices.  Here are the links to the original, and in some cases, multi-part, feature reviews:

There’s a lot of dust on these articles and it CLEARLY shows now, but they’re important to review so that we see where we’ve come from. I’m going to try to highlight differences between the original device reviews and what they offer now, and then compare the before and after of each to their latest versions; and then against each other.  I’m also going to do my best to keep the verbosity filter set too high (meaning, I don’t want this to be too long).

There is one thing that I want to make clear, however.  I’m going to be writing this roundup from the point of view of an iOS user.  Since hell froze over and Google released Android Wear for iOS AND Samsung released the Galaxy Watch in all its myriad editions and flavors, iPhone is the one platform where all of these major players in the smartwatch market can be used. There’s no other platform where this can be said.  Apple has not made a smartwatch app for Android, so iPhone and iOS remain the only platform where you can use Apple Watch.

Given all that, let’s get into it…

Apple Watch

Of all the smartwatches I was able to get my hands on in 2015, only the Apple Watch remains.  All of the others have been replaced by other models (in the case of the Fitbit Surge) or have been discontinued. The one that hurt the most was the Olio Model One. It was the most expensive and the most technically sophisticated of the group, with a technology set that rivaled the Apple Watch, for as much as it was different.

I have an Apple Watch Series 4, Space Gray, 44mm watch that I’m currently wearing with a 3rd party space gray link band. Since the introduction of the Watch six years ago, the device has gone from a capable device to an advanced extension of Apple’s mobile ecosystem. It’s come a long way.

Ecosystem extension aside, the Apple Watch Series 7 is very nearly a cellular health monitoring system all its own. A full, but consolidated feature list can be found below.

  • 41mm or 45mm Case Size
  • GPS/GNSS with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS
  • Compass
  • Barometric altimeter
  • Water-resistant – 50 meters
  • Electrical heart sensor
  • Optical heart sensor
  • Blood-Oxygen Sensor (Pulse-Ox)
  • International emergency calling
  • Emergency SOS
  • Accelerometer – up to 32 g-forces with fall detection
  • Gyroscope
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Speaker
  • Microphone
  • Apple Pay – NFC Payments
  • 18+ hour battery
  • LTE & UTMS Cellular Connectivity

The Series 7 screen has reduced the display’s bezels to 1.7mm.  This gives you use of nearly the full Watch display.

watchOS 8.x took the available hardware and added some really cool, new features to the Watch.  Some of these distinguished the Watch over its competition; but at what some would call a huge, but justifiable premium. watchOS 8.x includes the following advanced features.

  • Portrait Photo Support
  • Assistive Touch
  • Better Messaging Tools
    • Scribble
    • emoji Selector
    • Full keyboard Support
    • “Swipe-Style” text input
  • Contact Entry and Editing
  • FindMy on watchOS
  • New Workouts
    • Pilates
    • Tai Chi
  • Mindfulness App
  • Sleep Respiration Tracking
  • Digital ID Support

Apple Watch Cost and Bands

When combined together, watchOS 8 and the noted hardware features create a health monitoring, activity tracking, communications tool that allows you to stay connected to friends and loved ones.  Apple Watch complements your iPhone, making it much easier to use and stay connected.  The system is really very elegant and sophisticated. Its among the most intelligent of pairings that I’ve ever seen. If you sit and think about it, its very futuristic.

However, the future really does come with a high cost. Apple Watch starts at $399 for the 41mm GPS only, aluminum case model.  The aluminum case Watch maxes out at $599 for the 45mm GPS-LTE model.  Apple offers a few different casing options.  The stainless steel model maxes out at $799 for the 45mm GPS-LTE model.

So, regardless of watch bands (Apple Watch bands are outRAGEOUSLY over priced. I mean who pays $349 (Silver) or $449 (Black) for a stainless steel link watch band?? And don’t get me started with Hermes leather bands…no matter how decorative or ornate they are, no matter how comfortable they may be, NO strip of leather between 4-7 inches long is worth $339-$539. None. EVER.), Regardless of case, (Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Titanium, etc.) the internals of the Apple Watch have been EXACTLY the same within each Series (Series 0, Series 1, Series 2, etc.).  The higher prices users pay is ONLY for just a very few things

  1. Watch size  – 41mm vs 45mm
  2. GPS vs. LTE Functionality
  3. Different case types
  4. Different bands

Let’s be clear, however – Apple Watch is the gold standard and is considered by many to be the model to meet or beat in terms of functionality.  I truly feel that nearly every smartwatch that is still on the market today was designed to specifically compete with Apple Watch.

And again, I want to be clear – Aside from one or two of the four (4) smartwatches that I reviewed in 2015, there have been few candidates on the market that have been able to be as successful as Apple Watch.  While each Watch Series has introduced new hardware and software functionality, what the Watch does really hasn’t changed much since its introduction. Yes, the introduction of additional sensors has improved the functionality of the Watch; but there has only really been one REVOLUTIONARY change to Watch in the past five years.  Every other change has been more EVOLUTIONARY than anything else.

While some may disagree with this, careful analysis of the sensors and features on the Watch today compared to each Series introduction will show that the functionality growth has progressed logically from revision to revision.  There hasn’t been anything introduced in Series <New> that would compel me to upgrade from Series <New – 1> or even Series <New – 2>, which clearly demonstrates an evolutionary path.  Nothing introduced with Series 7 is going to push me to upgrade from Series <Old> to Series <New>.

Features like ECG/EKG are REVOLUTIONARY. Since its introduction, there have been numerous articles on how the feature has alerted users to some arrhythmia problems with their heart.  The version of Watch that can automatically detect, monitor and track blood sugar levels will push the entire world to either purchase a new Apple Watch.  More Americans have diabetes than nearly any other disability. If Apple can get this sensor into Watch, they are assured a huge payday.

TicWatch Pro 2020

The biggest competitor to Apple Watch is likely an Android Wear or WearOS watch; and there’s more than one type of product here, from more than one vendor. Last year, I wrote a shootout between WearOS and watchOS.  If you’re interested, you can read that here.  It’s as close to a review of the TicWatch Pro 2020 as I was able to get, up to this point.  That article not withstanding, I’m going to cover some specifics as they compare to the Apple Watch hardware, here.

In order to understand how the two devices compare, we need to see some technical information on what the TicWatch Pro 2020 offers its users.  While this is a WearOS watch and of course works with all Android smartphones, what most iOS users don’t know or understand is that the TicWatch Pro 2020 works with iPhones as well.

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100
  • Display: 1.39 inches AMOLED with 400×400 pixels resolution Gorilla Glass 3
  • Operating system: Google Wear OS
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Storage: 4GB internal storage
  • Bands: 22mm leather/silicone hybrid
  • Connectivity
    • Bluetooth 4.2 LE
    • 801.11 b/g/n WiFi
    • GPS/Galileo/GLONASS/Beidou
    • NFC
  • Sensors
    • Accelerometer
    • Heart Rate Sensor
    • Gyro Sensor
    • Geomagnetic Sensor (Compass)
    • Ambient Light Sensor
  • Rugged ratings: IP68 dust/water resistant rating and MIL-STD 810G shock resistance
  • Battery: 415 mAh non-removable
  • Dimensions: 45 x 45 x 12.6mm and 222 grams
  • Colors: Shadow Black and Liquid Metal Silver

The TicWatch Pro 2020 is a SOLID WearOS smartwatch. If you’re looking for a professional looking smartwatch, this is a good choice.  The TicWatch Pro 2020 is meant to be an upgrade to the original TicWatch Pro.  The 2020 version has a better processor as well as twice the amount of RAM as the original TicWatch.

The 2020 version also sported support for Military Standard 810G.  This is new for the TicWatch Pro; and was one of the major new features of the upgraded smartwatch.  Devices that support this military standard can withstand temperature shocks of between -30℃ to 70℃.  The device is operational between -20℃ to 55℃, 57kpa pressure, and 44℃ solar radiation.  The device can also withstand up to 95% humidity, can resist salt fog, sand and dust with its IP68 rating.

At the time of the initial release of the TicWatch Pro 2020, there was no cellular/ LTE version planned or available with the new specs.  That’s still the case. If you want a TicWatch Pro with LTE, you have to purchase the TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE.  The 4G version now sports 1GB of RAM and the same 4GB of storage as well as the 810G moisture, dust and temperature protection. However, if memory serves correctly, the spec upgrades to the 4G/LTE version happened AFTER the Pro 2020 was initially released.

Of all the WearOS watches that I’ve seen up to this point, the TicWatch Pro 2020 is a REALLY great choice for a smartwatch; and satisfies all the reasons why someone would want one, too. It provides notifications, can make and accept phone calls, can send messages and has NFC with support for Google Pay, GPS and heart rate sensors.

The TicWatch Pro 2020 is a bit bulky, however, and is very thick.  While it gives the device a very solid feel, its not something that you’re going to sleep with, which is just as well as the battery life I get with mine last about 2-3 days.  Not bad for a smartwatch as activity and sensor rich as the TicWatch Pro 2020.

The TicWatch Pro 2020 is also a SOLID contender for anyone looking for a very affordable and very capable smartwatch.  While TicWatch has released the TicWatch Pro 3 ($255 USD), its not that big of an improvement over the Pro 2020 that I have, to warrant an upgrade.  However, if I didn’t already have the Pro 2020, I would order a TicWatch Pro 3 without question.

Galaxy Watch 3

Samsung is going out of their way to be more competitive with Galaxy Watch.  This year with the introduction of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3, Samsung is attempting to push the ragged, hairy, bleeding edge of connectivity and with their ecosystem with Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.

So… Why am I including Galaxy Watch 3, clearly LAST YEAR’S smartwatch release as opposed to Galaxy Watch 4?  Dude… That’s simple – the Galaxy Watch 4 Series only works with Galaxy smartphones.

Yes.  Okokokok… So, why am I not using Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (because I’d choose the classic, with the metal band, movable, electronically functional bezel with the new Galaxy Z Flip 3..??  That’s also simple – I’m not dumping $400+ dollars into a watch that can only be used with a Galaxy smartphone when that smartphone is NEVER going to be my daily driver.  Ever.  I’m not an Android and won’t be again, … unless Apple really screws the pooch.

Let’s not forget kids, that Android 10/11/12 requires monthly security patches in order to keep it from getting hacked and to keep the malware demons away.  I’m not entrusting my digital wallet (credit cards, ID cards, etc.), my banking data or any of my personal data to an OS that must have monthly security patches.  That’s a disaster just waiting to happen, but… I digress.  So… back to the Galaxy Watch 3…

The Galaxy Watch 3 is Samsung’s (likely) last Tizen-powered smartwatch, as the Galaxy Watch 4 series watches all run WearOS.  While that’s not a reason to snub the GW4C, it is a point that needs clarification – why did Samsung dump Tizen in the very successful, very not Android malware-ridden Galaxy Watch Series – that’s very simple, actually… KakaoTalk, or KaTalk for short.

In South Korea, KakaoTalk is THE messaging app to have if you want to “reach out and touch someone.”  The Tizen ecosystem was severely lacking in apps and KakaoTalk has clearly stated that there won’t be a Tizen-compatible version of their app for Galaxy Watch.  As such, it clearly doesn’t make sense for Samsung to continue to support an OS that won’t be used by (literally) 90.2% of the entire South Korean population (46M of 51 million people).  So, for as much as Tizen was as a capable and more secure mobile OS than WearOS… buh-bye Tizen.

 Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Display45mm: 1.4-inch AMOLED
41mm: 1.2-inch AMOLED
Corning Gorilla Glass DX
Dimensions and weight45mm: 45 x 46.2 x 11.1mm
53.8g (stainless steel), 43g (titanium)
41mm: 41 x 42.5 x 11.3mm
49.2g
Colors and materials45mm: Mystic Black (stainless steel or titanium), Mystic Silver (stainless steel)
41mm: Mystic Bronze (stainless steel), Mystic Silver (stainless steel)
Battery45mm: 340mAh
41mm: 247mAh
WPC-based wireless charging
ProcessorSamsung Exynos 9110, Dual-core, 1.15GHz
RAM1GB
Storage8GB
ConnectivityLTE (available in select models)
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi b/g/n
NFC
A-GPS/GLONASS/Beidou 7
SensorsAccelerometer
Gyroscope
Barometer
Optical heart rate sensor
ECG
Ambient light sensor
Durability5ATM + IP68
MIL-STD-810G
SoftwareTizen OS 5.5
CompatibilityAndroid: Android 5.0 or higher & RAM 1.5GB or above
iOS: iPhone 5 and above, iOS 9.0 or above

 

Much like its predecessors, the GW3 is an awesome choice. It’s solid; but not too heavy. I actually think it feels lighter than the original Galaxy Watch, which continues to be a favorite of mine.  It’s faster and provides a great display and decent battery life.

 

Fossil Gen 6 Smartwatch

To be honest I was surprised by the Fossil Gen 6 Smartwatch. It is by far the best WearOS watch I’ve put my hands on.  The watch is solid, stylish and very functional.  I find this a bit surprising, despite the fact that Fossil has been selling watches for years.  But that’s the rub, isn’t it?  Fossil is a regular, non-smartwatch company.  They’ve been making non-smartwatches with both analog movements for decades – literally. It’s not often that you find a regular watch company with a smartwatch that doesn’t, well… suck.  And the Fossil Gen 6 Smartwatch is definitely cool.

  • Operating System: Powered by WearOS (version 2)
  • Compatibility: Works with both Android and iOS smartphones
  • Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon Wear 4100+
  • Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB Storage
  • Display: 1.28″ Color AMOLED / 416 x 416 / 326ppi
  • Input:
    • 2 Additional Push Buttons (configurable),
    • Rotating Home Button,
    • Touchscreen,
    • Voice
  • Sound/Actuator:
    • Loudspeaker,
    • Microphone,
    • Vibration
  • Connectivity:
    • Bluetooth 5.0 LE,
    • GPS,
    • NFC SE,
    • WiFi
  • Sensors:
    • Accelerometer,
    • Altimeter,
    • Ambient Light,
    • Compass,
    • Gyroscope,
    • Off-body IR,
    • PPG Heart Rate,
    • SPO2
  • Battery: 24 Hr + multi day Extended Mode
    • **Varies based on usage and after updates install**.
    • USB data cable with magnetic dock snaps to split rings on the watch case back and spins 360 degrees for ease of use.
    • Approximately half an hour to reach 80%.
  • Water Resistance: 3 ATM

The device has got decent specs and is fast and responsive. The screen is clear and bright and easy to read in both indoor and outdoor lighting… and this leads to the device’s biggest problem – battery life.  In its regular mode, the device – depending on how you use it, the number of notifications you get, how much you use the speaker, if you use it as a Bluetooth hands-free device for calls – you’ll be lucky to get 6-8 hours of battery life out of it.  In its Extended Mode, it should last you most of the day, though this too will likely depend on how many notifications you get.  The battery life on this device just sucks; and it’s a huge bummer, as it really requires you to make certain you have a charger with you, especially if you’re active. You’re going to want and need to find some time to charge during the day. Thankfully, it charges quickly (though it seems to deplete itself rather quickly too.

If the battery life on this watch were just a bit better – if it could last 12 to 18 hours in real-world use – it would be a clear winner over just about any and every other (at least WearOS smartwatch) on the market today.

This device has some of the best native watch faces I’ve seen and includes a Pulse-Ox sensor that I’ve found to be accurate and extremely handy as I am an asthmatic and have had a hard time with my asthma, lately.  My doctor was rather impressed that my smartwatch allowed me to track this metric, and I’m grateful I’ve had it.

 

Conclusion

Any and ALL of these watches are decent picks in today’s more mobile-centric and health-conscious world, especially if you’re wanting to keep track of the exercise you’re trying to get to get rid of that pandemic-bod” or to not go crazy because the COVID-19 Pandemic, sedentary lifestyle is starting to make a noticeable difference in the size of sweatpants you’re wearing to “the office.”  The biggest thing you need to keep in mind is that you should really choose the smartwatch that best complements your smartphone’s ecosystem unless you’re looking for something different.

This means that if your daily driver smartphone is an iPhone, Apple Watch is likely your best bet.  There are a bunch of Apple-only features (like unlocking your iPhone with your Apple Watch when you have a mask on)…very important right now, due to the pandemic. However, if you don’t have the money for Apple Watch, or want a watch with some REALLY cool watch faces (tools like Facer (iOS/iPadOS, WearOS, Legacy Tizen) and WatchMaker (iOS/iPadOS, WearOS, Legacy Tizen) work with watchOS), but work MUCH better with either WearOS or Tizen based smartwatches.

I’ve had a great deal of trouble getting Facer or WatchMaker faces show up on an Apple Watch display, but have had a great deal of success with both Tizen and WearOS watches.  Let’s face it, Apple Watch wants you to use native watch faces, and that’s all.  And to be honest, Apple Watch native watch faces are the MOST boring watch faces in the world, especially when you compare them to watch faces like this:


Now… As far as me and what my favorite and recommended watch is… that’s a difficult one.  I like all of the watches I’ve reviewed and compared here.  All of them. I swap them out day after day, wearing a different watch with a different watch face – either Facer, WatchMaker or Native (one that either came with the watch or is available in the Watch’s native Market Place) as my mood changes and suites me.
If you’re into seeing all of the information that your watch is collecting on you and has on your current geographic area, then you will likely appreciate all of these (and more) in both the Facer and WatchMaker apps.  Some of these, are REALLY very good.

Right now, I think my favorite is the Fossil Gen 6, a WearOS smartwatch, even though I carry an iPhone 12 Pro Max.  The native faces are the best I’ve seen on any watch.  The watch is meaty, with both weight and substance, and has awesome curb appeal. Its heavy enough to feel like I have a watch on, but light and portable enough not to be cumbersome and difficult to wear.

As far as which watch I recommend, I’d have to say that I recommend the one that works best with the ecosystem you live in. Apple Watch for iOS, WearOS for any Android phone and Tizen/Galaxy Watch 4 Series for any Samsung phone.  Staying in your lane makes the most sense and provides the best compatibility and biggest feature pool for you to work with.

 

iTechGear Weekly – Episode 5: It’s Not S Mode

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This is episode four of the iTechGear Weekly – Facebook’s Got a Brand New Name.  In this episode, Larry, Joel, Chris G. and I spend time talking about

  • Windows Segment
    • All You Need to Know about the Surface Laptop SE (aside from the fact that it’s not available to consumers)
    • The Difference between Windows in S Mode and Windows 11 SE & Regular Windows
      • Windows 11 SE has an even more simplified user interface, to minimize distraction and keep the focus on education
      • There is no Microsoft Store for Windows 11 SE, so IT educators can control which apps and tools students download
      • Windows 11 SE has built-in enhancements to optimize performance on low-cost hardware
      • There is no way to upgrade or switch to Windows 11 from Windows 11 SE, whereas users could switch to the full version of Windows 10 from Windows 10 in S mode at any time.
      • Windows 10 in S mode was built simply to limit apps; the other enhancements were not yet developed
      • Windows 11 SE is optimized for institutional use, whereas Windows 10 in S mode was also available to consumers.
    • Snipping Tool and Other Utilities Problems – Joel and Larry
    • Microsoft Blocking 3rd Party Browsers from Changing the Default in Windows 11
    • Sometimes, Sleeping Pills Just Don’t Work (Larry)
    • An Easy Way to Choose Between the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop 4
      • (Hint: If “you” think it looks and feels more like a tablet – it may not be the “laptop” you want.)
  • Apple Segment
  • Picks of the Week
https://itechgear.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Episode-5-Its-Not-S-Mode.mp3?_=1

Download MP3 iTGW Episode 5 – It’s Not S Mode

Show Notes Episode 5 – It’s Not S Mode

iTechGear Weekly – Episode 4: Facebook’s Got a Brand New Name

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This is episode four of the iTechGear Weekly – Facebook’s Got a Brand New Name.  In this episode, Larry, Joel, Chris G. and I spend time talking about

https://itechgear.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/iTechGear-Weekly-Episode-4-Facebooks-Got-a-Brand-New-Name.mp3?_=2

Download MP3iTGW Episode 4 – Facebook’s Got a Brand New Name

Show Notes Episode 4 – Facebook’s Got a Brand New Name

iTechGear Weekly – Episode 1SE: Apple Unleashed

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The first special iTechGear Weekly is all about the Apple Unleashed Event!  Apple introduced the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors for new machines

Larry, Joel, Chris G. and I spend time talking about

  • Apple Segment Apple Event – Unleashed
    • MacBook Pros
      • 14″ & 16″ Models
      • M1 Pro and M1 Max Processors
    • Gone and Good Riddance
      • Touch Bar
    • I Know you Wanna Leave me, but I Refuse to let you gg
      • MagSafe 3
      • Ports
        • SD Card Slot
        • HDMI Port
        • Headphone Jack
    • AirPods 3
      • New Design
      • Spacial Audio
      • Adaptive EQ
      • Longer Battery Life
      • Sweat/ Water-Resistant
    • HomePod mini
      • Colors – Yellow, Orange & Blue (Ocean)
    • Apple Music
      • Siri Voice
    • macOS Monterey Release
    • iOS 15.1 Release
      • HealthCare Cards in Wallet
      • State ID/ Driver’s License in Wallet
      • Universal Control
  • Mobile/ Linux Segment
    • Ubuntu 21.10
https://itechgear.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/iTechGear-Weekly-Episode-1SE-Apple-Unleashed.mp3?_=3

Download MP3iTGW Episode 1SE – Apple Unleashed

Show Notes Episode 1SE – Apple Unleashed

iTechGear Weekly – Episode 3: All the Way up to 11

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The third installment of the iTechGear Weekly is all about the Microsoft Event that introduced new Surface devices and kicked off the release of Windows 11.

Larry, Joel, Chris G. and I spend time talking about

  • Microsoft Segment
    • Windows 11 Released 10/5/2021
    • Windows 11 Rollout News
    • Windows 11 TPM Bypass Made Official by Microsoft
    • First Windows 11 Patch Tuesday
    • Windows 11 Upgrade Installations Fail with 0x8007007, 0x800F0830 errors
    • Can I, vs. Should I Upgrade to Windows 11? – All
    • Unboxing & First Impressions – Surface Laptop Studio
  • Apple Segment
    • Apple Unleashed Event 10/18 10am PDT, 12pm CDT, 1pm EDT
    • Special Edition of iTGW on 10/24
  • Picks of the Week
https://itechgear.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/iTechGear-Weekly-Episode-3-All-the-Way-to-11.mp3?_=4

Download MP3All the Way to 11

Show Notes Episode 3 – All the Way to 11

Unboxing the Surface Laptop Studio

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The Microsoft Surface Studio is Microsoft’s latest entry into the convertible PC market.  It replaces the Surface Book line and has a new, state-of-the-art, pull forward, 14.4-inch PixelSense Flow display with a default refresh rate of 120Hz. It’s fluid, Dolby Vision supported display is smooth and super sweet to look at and work with.

As reviewed the device has the following specs

  • Quad-core 11th Gen Intel® Core H35 i7-11370H
  • 16GB LPDDR4x RAM
  • 512GB SSD
  • NVIDIA® GeForce RTX3050 Ti  laptop GPU with 4GB GDDR6 GPU memory
  • Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax compatible
  • Bluetooth Wireless 5.1 technology

To be blunt, this device is sweet. It’s fast, has a decent typing experience, and works well with my targeted app, Microsoft OneNote.  It’s integrated support with Microsoft’s Slim Pen 2 makes for the smoothest and most elegant writing experience that I have ever had the pleasure of using… and I should know.  I’ve been using pens with Microsoft Windows devices since before TabletPC was a thing (2010).

I’m working on a first impressions article for the site, so stay tuned.  It shouldn’t be too long after this posts that, that article is published.

iTechGear Weekly – Episode 2: Everything Microsoft

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The second installment of the iTechGear Weekly is all about the Microsoft Event that introduced new Surface devices and kicked off the release of Windows 11.

Larry, Joel, Chris G. and I spend time talking about

  • Microsoft Segment
    • Windows 11
      • Builds to the Dev and Release Channels
      • Interesting comments on Windows 11 from a Large (1500 member) computer club
      • Rollouts of Win11 will be SLOW
    • Microsoft Event
      • Surface Pro 8
      • Surface Go 3
      • Surface Laptop Studio – a First Impressions and formal Review are in the works!
      • Surface Duo 2
  • Apple Segment
    • iPhone 13/iOS 15 Touch Screen issues (can’t touch that)
    • macOS Monterey getting a high power mode
  • Mobile Segment
    • Android 11 to Surface Duo 1 by end of 2021
  • Picks of the Week
    • Chris S. – Fossil Gen 6 Smartwatch
    • Larry – Crouton.app
    • Chris G – Microsoft Adaptive Kit
    • Joel – SoClean 2 & 3
https://itechgear.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/iTechGear-Weekly-Episode-2-Everything-Microsoft.mp3?_=5

Download MP3iTechGear Weekly Episode 2 – Everything Microsoft

Show Notes Episode 2 -Everything Microsoft

Unboxing the Fossil Gen6 Smartwatch

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This is the unboxing of the Fossil Gen6 Smartwatch.  This is an updated WearOS smartwatch with a newer Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100+ processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage.  I love this watch!  Its fast, easy and comfortable to wear, integrates with some iOS apps and features (on the health and exercise side of the App Store) and, in my opinion give just about every other WearOS watch a run for its money.

If you don’t want or can’t afford an Apple Watch, then this is THE WearOS watch to get.  Tech specs are directly below.

  • Operating System: Powered with Wear OS by Google
  • Compatibility: Wear OS by Google works with phones running the latest version of Android (excluding Go edition and phones without Google Play Store) or iOS. Supported features may vary between platforms and countries with compatibility subject to change.
  • Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon Wear 4100+
  • Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB Storage
  • Display: 1.28″ Color AMOLED / 416 x 416 / 326ppi
  • Input: 2 Additional Push Buttons (configurable), Rotating Home Button, Touchscreen, Voice
  • Sound/Actuator: Loudspeaker, Microphone, Vibration
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 LE, GPS, NFC SE, WiFi
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Altimeter, Ambient Light, Compass, Gyroscope, Off-body IR, PPG Heart Rate, SPO2
  • Battery: 24 Hr + multi day Extended Mode **Varies based on usage and after updates install**.
  • USB data cable with magnetic dock snaps to split rings on watch caseback and spins 360 degrees for ease of use.
  • Approximately half an hour to reach 80%.
  • Water Resistance: 3 ATM

This is by far the BEST WearOS watch I own and the best one I’ve seen to date.  The biggest issue, however is its battery life. You’re going to need to play with it, based on the watch faces you use, in order to insure that you get the battery life that you need.  If not configured correctly, you’re going to run out of power before the end of the day.

I will be featuring this watch in a roundup that I’m currently working on. Watch for it to hit the site.  If you’e got any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them, below.

iTechGear Weekly – Episode 1: Everything Apple

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This has been a long time coming.  I’ve been wanting to be part of a regular podcast for a while now, and I was finally able to assemble a group of tech professionals that not only have the technical chops to hold their own, but they’re a good bunch of guys to boot.  The iTechGear Weekly, well, it won’t actually come out every week.  Right now, we’re looking to publish an episode every two weeks.  However, We’re going to do our best to make up for it with some cool content.

Episode 1 – Everything Apple – covers Apple’s California Streamin’ event.  We cover the Apple vs. Epic Games decision, Apple Mail and iCloud Beta. We also touch on Windows 11 Builds, Microsoft saying, “no,” to WoA on Apple’s M1 silicon, among other Windows-based topics.  We finish off with a Pick of the Week segment as well.

Those wishing to play from the website can simply push the play button below to stream the audio file.  Those wishing to download the show pull down not only the MP3 file but the show notes as well.

 

https://itechgear.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/iTechGear-Weekly-Everything-Apple.mp3?_=6

Download MP3iTechGear Weekly – Everything Apple

Show Notes Episode 1 – ShowTitle TBD

UPDATE 2 – Returning to the Office for Work

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This story is evolving, and updates will be posted as they become available.

In an update announced on 2021-09-09, Microsoft stated that it has removed its timetables for its employees returning to any office (at least in the US) for work.

“We had planned for Oct. 4 to be the first possible date to fully reopen Microsoft’s own Redmond headquarters, and many other work sites in the U.S.,” Microsoft corporate vice president Jared Spataro stated in Microsoft’s blog entry on the subject. “But we shared with our employees today [that] we’ve shifted those plans. Given the uncertainty of COVID-19, we’ve decided against attempting to forecast a new date for a full reopening of our U.S. work sites in favor of opening U.S. work sites as soon as we’re able to do so safely based on public health guidance.”

Like Apple, Microsoft had previously announced plans for getting everyone back in the office.  They were originally planning for a July 2021 return and then decided to delay until September 2021 and then October 2021.  Unfortunately, the onset of new COVID variants and a rise in infection and hospitalization rates, those plans have been continuously delayed… until today when they were permanently cancelled.

Instead of planning this out, Microsoft will ready their campuses and then provide a 30 day notice to employees so they may prepare for a return to the office.

 

 

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