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Devices/smartphones

I Love My $40 Smartwatch

A $40 smartwatch? That's crazy. It's just a toy, right?

That's what I thought when I read about the Martian Notifier watch. But then I read the reviews on Amazon. People raved about it. Four stars. 567 reviews. So maybe it's not a toy, I thought. For $40 (which is what I paid for it -- it's now $30), I can afford to take a chance.

That was in January. I wore my Martian Notifier for months after that, until last week. And I still love my $40 smartwatch.

$40 Smartwatch
The Martian Notifier
The Martian Notifier

For starters, the Notifier is nice-looking watch. On the surface, it's a traditional electronic wristwatch with an analog face. It looks like something a grown-up would wear. It's a black watch, with hands, and a plastic band. It's not the fanciest watch on anyone's wrist, but it doesn't scream NERD WATCH. And it doesn't look like a garish toy. Though if you want the garish toy look, you can get the Notifier in bright colors.

The Notifier has a vibrator and a 1.5 inch OLED display occupying the space between the 4 and 8. That's where the magic happens. You use the watch to receive notifications from your phone. When you get a notification, the watch vibrates and the text of the notification shows up on the OLED display. It works with the iPhone and Android. I'm using mine with an iPhone 6.

Any app that sends a notification to the iPhone Notification Center can also send a notification to the watch, via Bluetooth. Your command center for the watch is an app you download to the phone from the app store.

I used the notifications all day, for text messages, and timers and reminders, as an alarm clock to wake me up, and more. When I got a notification, I glanced at the watch face to see what I was being informed of. If the notification required action, I picked up the phone and dealt with it.

It works for calendar reminders, email notifications, social media notifications, and more. If you want to get notifications on the phone but not the watch, you can customize that in the iPhone app.


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For $40 I got most of the important capabilities available in far more expensive smartwatches, like the Apple Watch -- starting price, $299. And unlike the Apple Watch, the Notifier is fast and responsive.

For battery life, the Martian Notifier blows away the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch charge lasts about a day. The Martian Notifier uses two batteries. One is just for the timekeeper function -- the dumb watch, you might say. That lasts two or three years. The battery for the smartwatch part of the Notifier lasts 8-10 days, in my experience -- much better than the 4-5 day battery life described in the documentation.

Next page: But nothing's perfect

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Mitch Wagner 6/22/2016 | 11:33:24 PM
Re: Moto The Pebble Time goes days on a charge. I set it up to charge every day when I shower. It's at 50-80% when I go into the shower, and back to 100% when I get out. 

The watch is water resistant down to 30 meters. Some Pebble users wear it into the shower. But I like to wash my wrist too.
KBode 6/22/2016 | 4:43:57 PM
Moto I spent significantly more ($230) on the latest Moto smartwatch and have come away unimpressed. I saw some benefit in being able to have a shortcut to pulling the phone out of my pocket, but by and large don't think the benefits outweigh having another device to charge at the end of the day. After two months I reverted to my old, traditional Hamilton Automatic. :)
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