Martian Notifier smartwatch review
If you're looking for a smartwatch but don't want a huge screen sitting on your wrist then the Martian Notifier might be the one for you. Read our Marian Notifier review to find out why. See also: The 8 best smartwatches 2014: List of the best wearable tech you can buy right now.
This smartwatch will set you back $129 (UK RRP is £129) and we put the US price because although the firm hopes to sell the device in the UK in the near future you'll have to get it shipped from across the pond until then. The firm does ship worldwide but shipping will cost a further $50 (£29) roughly, so you might want to hang on for a UK launch. See also: Samsung Gear 2 Neo review.
Martian Notifier review: Design and build
Smartwatches are still in their infancy really and as such are changing and evolving as time goes on (excuse the pun). The stereotypically smartwatch has a reasonably big screen with which to interact with - but not everyone wants a device like this. Luckily you don't have to go down this route to own a smartwatch – enter the Notifier from American kickstarter firm, Martian.
As you can see from the images, the Notifier pretty much looks like a regular watch. It's simple but stylish and looks more expensive that it really is. We like the look of the Notifier which you can buy in different colours. It has a regular crown and two push buttons. It's a comfortable watch with plenty of holes for different sizes but the rubber strap does tend to get clammy and uncomfortable on hot days. There are other straps available such as leather and stainless steel (both $30) but they are 'non-quick change' and require an $8 tool.
There are colourful quick-change straps, too, but they are rubber like the one supplied. You can choose a white, red or black Notifier to start with – dictating the watch face and strap colour. See also: Sony SmartWatch 2 review.
Martian Notifier review: Notifications
As the name of the device suggests, the Notifier is all about giving you notifications meaning you don't need to get your phone out of a pocket or bag to read a text message or see who is calling. It does this via a small oblong OLED screen at the bottom of the watch face. It's 96 x 16 pixels so isn't exactly high res but does the job nevertheless.
As well as texts and calls, you can get all kind of notifications – pretty much anything which is installed on your companion smartphone or tablet. Whether it's a game, sports feed, news, finance, travel and more. Check out Martian's website for a list. You can pick and choose which come through to the Notifier via the app (see below). It's not all or nothing.
Vibration intensity can be adjusted to suit on scale of 0-15 plus you can pick your own personal patterns for different alerts. Four consecutive vibrations can be long, short or paused (nothing). For example, a text message can be long, pause, long, pause while a phone call could be long, short, short, long. This way you know what type of notification you've got without looking at the watch at all.
Notifications are read out twice and there's an LED too (which you can switch off), but if you're busy and miss one, you can recall it by double tapping the glass front. However, you can only do this for up to five minutes after it was received which isn't the most helpful. We'd like it to be able to recall the last notification no matter when it came in.
Martian Notifier review: More than notifications
While the Notifier does a great job of providing information to your wrist while looking like a regular watch, it can perform some other tricks – some of which we weren't expecting. Pushing the top button will activate voice control on your phone but that's just the start.
Pressing the bottom button once will give you a scrolling list of the time, battery life with connection status (arrows are good), the date and optionally the weather. Martian tells us that for the latter wakes up your phones GPS every hour to check location. We often found it didn't match up with what our companion phone said. See also: What is Google Android Wear?
Keep tapping the bottom button and you'll scroll through a list of options including a light (switches LED to white), do not disturb (switch on to avoid notifications) and find phone (forces your phone to play an alert tone so you can locate it).
Furthermore, the watch can be used as a remote control for your smartphones camera. Point your phone in the right direction, put the watch into camera mode, tap the button and you'll start a three second countdown to the shutter.
Martian Notifier review: Setup, compatibility and apps
Setting up the Notifier is relatively easy once you learn how to navigate the menu system on the watch. Admittedly, we had to use the instructions but you only need to do it once and you're away.
The device is compatible with plenty of smartphones and tablets – iPads as old as the iPad 3, iPhones back to the iPhone 4S and the iPod touch fifth generation. You can use any Android device with version 2.3 or higher.
You use the app to make the initial Bluetooth connection then to control all the settings such as which notifications you receive and the vibration patterns which we mentioned earlier. You can also set alarms and a repeater.
Martian Notifier review: Battery life
It's really annoying having to charge multiple devices every night, so the good news is that the Martian Notifier isn't one of them. The firm touts a battery life of six days and we found during our testing that the watch lasted around a week on average. If you have alerts coming in from a lot of apps and you're really popular then expect this to drop. (We were also turning the device off at night when it wasn't needed)
Cleverly, the analogue watch part runs from a separate battery so doesn't die when the smart element of the devices does. It will last two years, according to Martian.
The Notifier charges up pretty quickly and although it receives power over standard microUSB (the same as most smartphones and tablets), you'll need to use the supplied one. The socket is set quite far back into the body of the watch so a regular cable simply won't reach. This is a little frustrating as the beauty of microUSB is that you can pretty much use any charger, but that isn't the case here.
The Martian Notifier is a great choice for those who want a smartwatch within the design of a regular wrist watch. Its affordable but stylish although the rubber strap isn't the most comfortable. It's main skill is notifications but the additional features like remote camera control are handy. Our main issue is the extra cost of shipping it over from the US so we're hoping for a UK launch soon.