Wearable Technology Review: The Martian Notifier - New York News

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Wearable Technology Review: The Martian Notifier

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This is the aptly named, Martian Notifier. It looks like a traditional chronograph, but it fuses smartphone functionality with a traditional watch in a device that is decidedly simple, thus the “Notifier” moniker. If you were looking for something to help you collect meta data about everything you do in life, this isn’t the wearable for you. If you want a watch that acts as a second screen for your phone, helping you be selective about pulling it out of your pocket or bag, you may want to take a hard look at Martian.


Watch Out Now!

The first thing you notice when you take the Martian Notifier from what is some very nice packaging is the looks. This smartwatch looks like a traditional watch but if you’re a watch purist, that’s a good thing. Notifier is the second generation of watches from Martian and they’ve definitely been listening to people who purchased their first generation of products. Gone is the microphone and speaker, which allows for the Notifier to be “splash resistant.” More on that later. You still get those traditional watch looks but they’ve shaved a bit of fat, which allows the Notifier to be lighter on your wrist weighing in at 1.83 oz compared to the 2.5 to 3 oz of the previous gen Martians. That does come at a cost though. There’s more “plastic” but that doesn’t leave this timepiece feeling cheap at all. The other difference between the Notifier and the previous three options is the overall appearance. With the previous gen Victory, Passport and G2G watches, you had a more square watch which had the type of high-end look that you might expect to see worn with an expensive suit, or “upper casual” attire. Especially the Passport with its leather band option. The Notifier however is available with either a red, white or black silicone band, mated to a color matched round face and black bezel which says, “Hello, I’m the sporty fellow in this cadre of chronographs.”


The watch sports a fairly straightforward button arrangement with the button to set the chrono time on the right which is your usual pull out and twist crown affair with two other buttons on the left. Though these look traditional, they control several other functions on the watch. The top button launches voice commands and dismisses them on iOS, accepts changes made in the Martian Menu, and scrolls the notification history forward. The bottom button turns the watch on and off, accesses the status bar, scrolls through the Martian Menu, and scrolls notification history backward.


Function As Much As Form

So, what does the Martian Notifier do exactly? Not much has changed in that regard from the first generation set of devices. With the Notifier you get one very important addition of Bluetooth Low Energy which allows you to get the full compliment of notifications and custom vibrations out of your iOS devices as long as they’re the iPhone 4S and above. Most Androids should be fine after 2.3.


The Martian Notifier app is what allows you to setup different functions on your phone. From the app you can select whether you want to use standard or military time, day and date formatting, whether or not you want to include other time zones and even configure alarms. Those things you can do from the watch as well, but it’s easier from the app. From the app, you can also filter out which apps will send notifications to your phone and this is where the Notifier shines! So, you already know that you can see the text alerts from apps on the OLED display on the watch but Martian takes things a step further and allows you to customize the vibration patterns of the apps that are notifying you. You do this by going into the “Alerts” tab of the Martian Notifier app, then tapping on the app you want to customize notifications for then customizing the vibration pattern accordingly. You get four “registers” where you can set a vibration type: Long, Short and Pause. With that you can set each vibration notification to vibrate up to four times, or not. You could set it to vibrate with one long, then a pause, then a short vibration, then another pause for a total of two vibrations.


I think one of the features that people will be most split over is the way information is displayed on the device. To be clear, I love it! But that’s because I understand this watch’s use in my daily wear. This device isn’t meant to replace my phone’s screen in terms of having info pushed to it from my smartphone. The primary use here is to pass simple notifications which let me know if it is worth it at that moment to pull out my phone and read or respond. That’s it. That may be why Martian went with the ticker style, single line display as opposed to the larger screens of some of their competitors. It’s also why this watch is $50 - $150 less than its closest watch-like competitors. For the price, and the fact I’m somewhat a watch collector, this works for me but I can see their display style being a polarizing feature that potential buyers either love or hate.


Speaking of love/hate relationships, I have two complaints with the function of the watch. Number one is that it is only “splash resistant.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, please make these watches water resistant, or better yet, waterproof. I hate having to baby a watch and be vigilant during hand washing to keep it dry. In my opinion, that’s ridiculous. What I’m wearing should match what I’m doing and outside of attending some super high end, red carpet affair where I could see wearing an expensive timepiece which requires extra care, I don’t want my daily driver to be fussy. My second issue is the 96x16 OLED screen which is beautiful indoors but gets washed out in direct sunlight. Obviously that won’t stop you from being able to tell the time, but it could hinder your being able to tell who just emailed you without whipping out the phone- which is kind of the whole point of this thing to begin with. Is it a deal breaker? No, not at all. Is it something to be aware of before you buy? Yep. One more item to be aware of and that's the charging cable. Thought the connector itself is microUSB, it is a proprietary, elongated version so you'll need to pick up spare cables directly from Martian should you lose or misplace the one you have.


In addition to the features I’ve already outlined above, you also get an LED which flashes green for incoming calls and battery fully charged, red for low battery or charging and blue for incoming notifications. In addition, the Notifier’s glass is touch sensitive and allows you to dismiss incoming notifications, dismiss notification history, and recall last notification for up to 5 minutes after it was received. Much like many of the other options on the market, you can also use the watch as a wireless leash and to find your phone. Battery life is great for a smartwatch and should get you through the work week unless your notifications are just buzzing like a hive of angry hornets.


Overall, I’ve really enjoyed my time with the Martian Notifier. While I think its appeal will be niche, I can definitely see the market for this product. I know many people have become accustomed to pulling their phones out of their pocket to check multiple times a day, I prefer having a watch - I wear one anyway - that tells me the time and now, gives me relevant notifications so I can decide at that moment if I need to dig deeper and/or respond. The Martian Notifier focuses exactly on that and nothing more. For watch wearers who aren’t looking to quantify themselves but just want to be able to tell the time and cut down on the constant phone checking/shuffling, this is definitely a piece worth taking a look at.

Full disclosure: Martian provided me with a demo unit for the purposes of this review.
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