The first smartwatch I ever wanted was a Fossil. The year was 2003 and the Fossil Wrist PDA ran PalmOS. Underpowered and almost as heavy as a PDA, I still check eBay for them now and again.
Well, it’s almost 2017, and Fossil has gone and done it again. Marrying Android Wear to not one but several designs should have been a masterstroke. Instead, I can’t help but wonder if Fossil is making the same mistakes as they did 13 years ago. They sent me a Marshall and the female-oriented Wander to GeekMom Samantha.
Mordechai: Bluntly, the main failure of the Marshall is that it just doesn’t feel like a $295 smartwatch. Don’t get me wrong, the chassis is high-end for a watch. But consider that for that same amount of money, I can get a water-resistant Apple Watch 2. Even if I only wanted an Android Wear watch, the Moto 360 and the Huawei Watch get cheaper than that when on sale (like right now). For the platform agnostic, the Pebble is cheaper too.
Samantha: The Fossil Wander is at least 1/8 inch thicker (and therefore heavier) than the Huawei (I haven’t sent back that one yet since I’m still working up my full review).
The increased heaviness caused an increase in “wrist tenderness” for me. Since the watch itself was bigger and heavier, no matter how I adjusted the strap it would spin slightly outward on my wrist and, after a couple hours, the pressure on my wrist bone would cause pain and I’d have to take it off for a while.
Mordechai: I had the same issue. I thought it might be from getting used to it, but hearing you had the same issue makes me raise an eyebrow (not literally, I can’t do just the one). I have not had that issue with other models.
Fossil can’t even argue that they outperform the above, despite having a new chip. One of the best functions of the Wear ecosystem is the ability to talk to it. Yet, more often than not, my Q Wander missed my “Ok Google” prompts. I did notice that the Wi-Fi reception on it was fast and watch performance was solid, but at the same price as a flagship watch, I expect more than solid. I also couldn’t get over the “flat tire” look on the screen: très 2015. Let’s not even talk viewing angles.
Samantha: I completely agree about the flat tire screen. Cutting off the 6 on every watch face drives me nuts. My mic works great, though. Not a single miss so far when I say “Ok Google.”
Also, I want to note that the strap was leather, which was a very good thing, and I loved how close together the sizing holes were. Very easy to find a good fit.
Mordechai: Oh, almost forgot: despite prices that are on par with watches that include heart-rate monitors, neither watch includes one. Again, what year is this? Samantha, can you ask your watch? Mine isn’t listening.
Samantha: One last thought: the Fossil is still VERY masculine, even in the model meant for women. It wasn’t very pretty, so definitely not something I would feel comfortable wearing if I’m dressing up for a night out.
Goes with my jeans, not my dress.
Mordechai: I’m not willing to count Fossil out of the smartwatch race, but the current offerings feel overpriced and outdated. I plan on keeping an eye on them, though. That PDA watch I mentioned above? It was a big part of pushing the public to accept the very concept of a smartwatch outside of a Dick Tracy strip (kids, ask your parents). It’s my hope that Fossil does the same here, pushing some of the above companies to not be complacent and push forward. Time will tell if they manage to push ahead of the pack.
Note: Fossil was kind enough to loan us both review units. Best team-up ever?