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Fossil Q Founder review: Fossil misses the mark with its first Android Wear watch

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The Fossil Q Founder (middle) compared to the Moto 360 (left) and the Huawei Watch (right).

Sarah Tew/CNET

Same old Android Wear

Android Wear continues to be the Achilles' heel of many smartwatches, and the Q Founder is no exception. The watch can display personalized Google Now cards with information on weather, transportation, sporting events and more. It will also mirror the notifications you receive on your smartphone.

You can customize which notifications appear on the watch, but there is really no control over the personalized cards, and most of the time these alerts aren't very helpful. Right now the watch is telling me that a new episode of "Modern Family" will air on ABC tonight. That's great, and I really like the show, but is this something I need to be shown during the workday? Of course not.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Earlier this year, Google added limited functionality for iPhone users to Android Wear. While you can view notifications and get those same Google Now cards, the experience leaves you wanting more. At this time, iPhone users aren't able to use third-party apps, access Wi-Fi, or respond to contacts right from their wrist. If you own an iPhone, get an Apple Watch. It's a much better experience.

Aside from a couple of custom watchfaces (none of which are very memorable), Fossil also didn't do anything to make the Founder stand out. The Moto 360 includes Motorola's fitness-centric MotoBody software, while the Huawei watch is preloaded with more than 40 customizable watch faces and a Huawei fitness app. I expected more from Fossil.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Battery life

The 400mAh battery on the Founder will last you a single day, and not much longer. I removed the device from the charger on Monday at 3:30pm, by Tuesday at the same time it was down to 5 percent, and by 4 p.m. it was dead. That's 24 and a half hours, to be exact.

Ambient mode (also known as an always-on display, which can be turned off) was turned on and brightness was set to automatic. The Founder performed worse than the Moto 360 and Huawei Watch, both of which lasted roughly a day and a half with similar settings. These results are also considerably worse than the Pebble Time Steel, which lasts a full week (but is a whole different type of watch).

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Poor battery life aside, what really frustrated me the most was the charging method. Fossil's watch features wireless charging, but rather than using a simple dock like the Moto 360, the Founder has a bulky watch pad that at first glance looks like something you may throw out. Don't! This weird, bulky, padded charger needs to be used to charge the watch, and there's no other option offered.

The watch would occasionally seem to work with my Qi-compatible Energizer Dual Inductive Charger, but got very hot in the process. I wouldn't recommend it at all.

Should you buy it?

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Sarah Tew/CNET

I'm left with nothing but disappointment from the Fossil Q Founder. It's a beautifully made watch on the outside, and it's competitively priced compared to other smartwatches, but it has too many shortcomings. You can do better. If you're an iPhone owner, get an Apple Watch. Android users, get a Samsung Gear S2, Huawei Watch, or Moto 360.

And Fossil fans, just get a regular Fossil watch and skip the smart stuff for now.

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