The Flash TV show on the CW is a mixed bag. It’s not the best-written show, but it transcends script weakness through the sheer charm and chemistry of the cast. The One61 Flash Smartwatch is taking notes from the TV show; it has a lot of flaws, but it’s just so darn cute it almost balances out.
Physically, the Flash Smartwatch looks like a slightly chunkier Apple Watch. It has a square face with a button on one side, and a touchscreen you can use to flip through various menus. However, it is much, much cheaper than the Apple Watch, doesn’t have any third-party apps, and isn’t as powerful (there’s no heart-rate monitor, for example). Still, as smartwatches have crossed from the realm of geeks into the mainstream, the Flash Watch manages to reclaim the nerdy side of smartwatches by mixing it with a deep love of comics, and that’s what makes the watch really stand out.
The comic love starts early with this watch, with the faces. You can choose from 4 different Flash-themed faces, all of which are heavily influenced by the aesthetic of the CW show (and if you’re a really huge Grant Gustin fan, and have always wanted his face on your wrist, there’s DEFINITELY a watch face for you). Every time you complete 1/4 of your step goals, the watch celebrates by showing that you “defeated” an enemy. If you’re sitting still for too long, you get alerted that there’s been a high activity of metahumans and you need to spring into action. Even the charging screen lists the watch as being from “Star Labs”.
Beyond the Flash skinning, which is really excellent, the watch does a very good job of being a smartwatch. Your notifications all come flooding in, and for better or worse the watch has a microphone and can take phone calls. I say for better or worse because it can be very irritating to answer the phone, only to realize the watch overrode the handset and your call is suddenly on speaker from your wrist. The touchscreen is really responsive, and I found it super easy to flip through the menu items. I also was really impressed with the notifications; I’ve had even higher end smartwatches randomly drop notifications, but the Flash Watch has been very solid at grabbing everything. There is no GPS, but there are a stopwatch and timer, and if you do like taking calls on your wrist there’s even a wee little phone dialer. Good luck dialing on the tiny screen, but it’s still nice that the software is there to really take advantage of the microphone if you want to. The watch can also handle controlling music and triggering the camera as a remote shutter button.
Here’s where the Flash Watch really suffers — the accelerometer in it is not the best, so you get a lot of false steps. I had times where I was sitting at my desk typing vigorously and would be congratulated on doing enough steps to catch a supervillain, or I would find that it claimed I did 2,000 steps on my drive to work. This is an issue, but it’s not a deal breaker given the price. If you’re buying this solely as a fitness tracker, you have better options in the price range, but if you’re buying it as a funky smartwatch that happens to track steps, there’s a larger margin of forgiveness for inaccuracy in my view. The other issue is that the battery life is not the greatest. I found that I could get around 12-15 hours off the charger before the watch was totally dead. This is definitely a watch you’ll need to charge daily, so if that’s something to keep in mind. My suspicion is that this is due to the floodgate approach to notifications (which can’t be fine-tuned) and the fact that it appears to be a regular LCD screen, which is a bit of a battery hog.
This isn’t a smartwatch for a power user or a fitness junky. This is, however, a great smartwatch for a teenager who loves comics and needs a small nudge to be more active, or an adult who loves being funky and different. At only $124.99, it’s certainly cheaper than most of its competition! Everything from the packaging to the user interface and the musical notifications embraces the comic book nature of the watch, and while it’s not as “smart” as some of its cousins, it is extremely capable and extremely fun!
Look for the One61 Flash Smartwatch in mid-June!
Source: Manufacturer provided a loaner watch.
What I Liked: Really leans into the comic book aesthetic; Notifications are swift; Offers a lot of capability for a low price; Can motivate comic fans to be more active
What Needs Improvement: Battery is weak; No way to turn off phone call capability; Can sometimes overcount steps