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Once again I'm reminded that Cheapskate readers are the best. Yesterday I expected some outcry over the very mention of the ACLU; instead I got thoughtful, considerate, hostility-free discussion of the kind you just don't see in other public forums. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Seriously, thank you.
On to business. Sometimes I see off-brand (OK, Chinese) tech products and wonder: Can those possibly be as good as their better-known, more-expensive counterparts? You know the stuff I mean: phones, action cameras, smartwatches and the like.
Take, for example, a watch that's called simply Y3. (That's the model number; it literally does not appear to have a brand.) In photos, it looks gorgeous. On paper, it sounds great: Android
Wear OS, built-in GPS, built-in heart-rate monitor and room for a SIM card if you want connectivity independent of your phone. Update: There's some confusion over whether this is Android Wear or just Android. The product page indicates the latter, but in my tests I found the OS virtually indistinguishable from Wear. Will try to get some clarification from the seller.
It can. With a couple caveats, of course, but overall this was a very pleasant surprise. And let me start with the best part: For a limited time, Tomtop has the Y3 Android smartwatch for $84.99, shipped, when you apply promo code SMART13 at checkout. That's good for the silver model with black leather strap or the rose-gold with brown leather.
Please take note: This will be shipping from a China warehouse, and therefore could take as long as a month to arrive. (The seller estimates 7 to 20 business days, so probably two weeks at a bare minimum.)
Y3? Y Not?
Tomtop was kind enough to satisfy my curiosity by sending me a Y3 to check out, and I'll start with the good stuff. The build quality is really impressive: This is a substantial metal watch that doesn't feel the least bit cheap. Its 400x400-pixel, 287ppi AMOLED display is stunning: crisp, bright and readable outdoors (though I wasn't able to test it under direct sunlight because, well, Michigan).
On the feature front, it's impressive as well, offering not only Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but also the aforementioned SIM slot. (It's BYO SIM card and service, though, of course.) It has built-in GPS and a heart-rate monitor, the latter producing readings comparable to what I get from my Apple Watch (in very informal tests, mind you).
The watch is IP65-rated for water protection, meaning you can probably shower with it (if you replace the leather band with something more suitable), but shouldn't swim with it.
The Y3 comes with some 15 faces preloaded, many of them quite snazzy. I don't know enough about Android Wear to know if it's possible to install others, but the WiiWear companion app doesn't offer any options. It does, however, let you upload photos to the watch, locate the watch and check your step count.
A magnetic charging cable supplies power, and you should plan to recharge nightly -- typical for these devices.
The Y3 is a big watch, probably larger than most women would be comfortable wearing, I think. And it's not just the 1.4-inch display I'm talking about; it's a little over half an inch thick. "Chunky" is the word that comes to mind.
Beyond that, I'm hard-pressed to come up with any real complaints except this one: The OS can be frustrating at times. For example, for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to get the weather readings to appear in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius.
What's more, support is pretty much nonexistent: The manual has zero contact information, meaning Tomtop is your only recourse if there's a problem. The warranty period isn't specified anywhere.
So, yeah: That's the price you pay for getting a premium-quality smartwatch at a decidedly non-premium price.
Bonus deal: I continue to be a fan of Solove's mobile chargers, even though the company's current models aren't quite as sexy as their predecessors. But they're a lot more compact, and they incorporate a forward-thinking USB-C input (for recharging) alongside the usual Micro-USB.
And there's a deal to be had: You can get the Solove A9S 10,000mAh mobile charger for $16.99 with promo code KSHIROQ7. It offers two 2.4-amp USB ports and a nifty red numeric LCD power gauge. Just take note that many of the customer reviews and ratings are for different products from this same seller. But I can speak from firsthand experience that this is a very nice, very reliable, very compact charger that's a solid buy at this price.
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