Since Fossil came out with their MSN Direct watches, smart watches have really started to kick off. With the Martian Passport Smart watch, users now have the ability to do even more with a really cool interface. The $299 Martian Smart Watch is a mobile accessory that keeps the functionality of an analog based wrist watch but adds the smart watch capabilities. The application is available for free on the Google Play and iTunes App stores.
For testing I’ve used an iPhone 5S on iOS version 7.0.4. At times I was connected to Wifi and both 3G and LTE upon testing the product.
The app looks relatively basic. The first screen that you are presented with immediately after the splash screen is the “Home” screen. The home screen is really basic for a home screen and doesn’t have much flare to it. It tells you if your Martian Passport is connected to your device or not and offers you the ability to connect to your phone using a slider button. Once you press connect, it will say “Watch is connected” on the top of the application. The next option is one to enable or disable the LED followed by vibration intensity. The vibration intensity is a slider that you can easily and quickly set how intense the vibration of the Martian is while on your wrist. You have 15 options here from low (1) to high (15). The next feature on the home screen is “Find watch” that features a clickable label that says “Play.” When pressing “play” it sends a tune of “so la ti do” to your Martian. It’s quite loud and isn’t a very high dB so that hearing impaired customers will be able to hear this easily.
The next menu is “Alerts.” In “Alerts” you are able to select if you want Facebook Messages to be sent to your device, Twitter Mentions, Calendar Alerts, Reminders as well as Email notifications. There is also a “configure sync” function that allows the user to set how often they want their Martian to synchronize with their device. This I found to be beneficial to save on your phone’s battery. I found all the features to work properly except for Twitter mentions which I wasn’t able to get working. The Facebook and Twitter applications use the login information from the Facebook and Twitter apps that are pre-installed on your device, so the user will be required to login to these in order to make the function work on your Martian.
The E-Mail notifications are delivered over IMAP and POP protocols. Display allows you to set a digital world clock on your device and when clicking “Choose Time Zone” it displays a list of time zones that you are able to go by. There is no option here to select Daylight Savings Time which I think should be added. You also have the option to turn on a Forecast and select if you want it in Celsius or Farenheight. In “Setup” you are presented with the options to change your language, enable LED, enable leash, enable gesture, choose date format, choose time format, select the ability for “no SMS limit”, select your scroll speed and select your “alert scroll delay.”
It bothers me that you have to use certain tricks in iOS to get text message notifications working on your Martian. This should work out of the box without any tricks. You’re required to go to Settings – > Bluetooth – > Turn on “Show Notifications” turn it off again, then back on, then go and disable and enable Bluetooth in order for this to work. Why?
In terms of the product, the Martian Smart watch doesn’t look like a mini iPhone on your wrist, it still keeps that elegant style of a watch while having the capabilities of a smart watch. The Martian’s dimensions are 1.5” x 1.5” x 0.5” for the watch face. The total length of the band including the watch face is 10.” The analog features of the Passport are operated by a standard watch battery. The digital components of the Passport are powered by a rechargeable battery via micro USB.
The crystal for the watch face is an anti-scratch glass, and the Martian Passport has a Japanese quartz movement for the analog components. The metal surrounding the watch face is stainless steel. The battery that powers the digital components is a 125 mAh battery.
The design is extremely slick and it just looks so good on your wrist, you can think of it as having a sort of analog flair to it. Battery life is decent as it lasts about a week. I absolutely love the fact that I don’t have to look at my phone to see who’s calling me, I just look at my wrist for text and call notifications, even emails and Facebook messages too. It wasn’t a drain on my phone’s battery which was nice.
However, the Martian Passport Smart Watch isn’t water resistant, but it is splash resistant. Personally, I prefer having a splash resistant watch that uses micro-USB to charge over some proprietary connector like the Meta Watch uses. I’m concerned that water might splash into the holes for the speaker and microphone possibly causing it to short circuit. I’d suggest Martian to partner with Liquipel to fully waterproof the Martian Passport Smart Watch.
The cover overtop the microUSB port is flimsy and makes your device look cheap. I suggest Martian to relook at this feature and see what they can re-engineer that will retain the elegancy of the Martian and still have function to protect your microUSB port.
The dials on the Martian are made of a metal and are top notch that seem to be scratch resistant. There is a turn wheel to set the analog time as well as two buttons on the side one for answering/declining calls and one to access and confirm menu features.
The back of the device is a hard shell plastic that looks like it can endure the average bump and drop. It also seems to be quite scratch resistant. Four small watch screws at the edges of this shell hold it in place and provide access to the analog watch battery and components and it seems you also can also remove your watch band by using these screws.
Call quality is amazing as it uses a noise cancelling microphone that does such a great job on cutting out that background noise. It has a few really cool features such as gestures, wireless leash and AD2P streaming that I’ll touch on shortly. It doesn’t have the ability to store music on it like an iPod Nano on your wrist nor does it have a headphone jack. The ability to have it connect to Siri by default is amazing! I took the Martian Passport into the noisy central call to see if it could eliminate that background noise and still understand what I’m saying. I was quite surprised to see that it worked better than I expected.
I haven’t tried it on an Android device, just an iPhone 5S, but the ease of use of the Martian Smart Watch with Siri is just fantastic.
Leash gives you a three-vibration notification when you break the Bluetooth connection. It is a reminder when you’ve left your phone behind and walked away, hopefully preventing you from leaving it at the restaurant or at a meeting. You get two quick vibrations when again connected. This feature I found to be useful, but yet buggy especially at CES 2014. I found that because of the amount of interference with wireless devices the Martian Passport would say “Disconnected” vibrate and then say “Connected” and vibrate again and this kept happening every few minutes. The feature was very easy to activate within the phones setup menu. Just checked off the feature and it was instantly activated. You can separate the Passport from your device until about 3ft until Leash starts to warn you to get back to your device. Note that the Martian Passport was just a few inches away from me and even in my hand it said “Connected” followed by “Disconnected.”
Gesture allows you to decline a call and send it to voice mail simply by bending your elbow with your forearm pointed straight up and twisting/turning your wrist quickly back and forth 3-4 times between vibrations. I was told that more gestures will be released soon while at Pepcom. Also I was told that the operating system for their new product “notifier” will be released to the Passport smart watch soon giving a slew of notifications and abilities like Instagram notifications and more.
There’s also a really cool “camera mode” feature that lets you take a selfie from your passport by pressing a button right on it. One thing to know though, you do have to be in the Camera application of your device in order for this to work properly.
AD2P streaming is just like you think it is, basically any track played on your phone is wirelessly streamed to your phone. There is no ability to change tracks via the Passport but the sound quality sounds superb.
You can also check the weather on the Passport by going into the menu as well as the current digital time and date which is retrieved from your device. It’s important to note that the analog time is manually set and isn’t set via your device.
The “tap to show notifications again” feature didn’t work for me out of the box. A firmware update was required in order to make this work. It would be nice if the Martian Passport Smart Watch showed when an update is available. The user shouldn’t have to check the Martian website site and remember what their version # is, this should be some sort of alert on the Martian. Just make it easier on the consumer. Basically you can recall a notification by tapping once on the display within a 1 minute period of receiving the notification. Note that you can only recall a notification once.
The watch band that I received with my Passport was made out of silicone which I found to be super comfortable. You can get silicone bands in a variety of colors for $20.00 including black, white, hot pink, red, lime and turquoise. There are also bands available in “victory black” and “victory tan” as well as “victory white” which cost another $5.00 for the “victory” line. If you want a leather or stainless steel band it will cost you $30.00.
The price of the Martian Passport Smart Watch is $299.00 which is an appropriate price for the quality of this product. Overall I was very impressed with the elegancy of the Passport and how easy it was to use. I’ll be giving the Martian Passport Smart Watch a 4.5/5 rating. Fix the small little issues that arise such as not initially seeing iOS SMS messages on the Martian when first setting it up, re-engineer the microUSB cover, improve the user manual and spice up the updater a bit and you’ll have a 5/5 product. Get one now at MartianWatches.com
Jonathan is the founder and editor-in-chief of TrustedNerd.com. Covering major tech shows such as CES, Jonathan is always there for the latest tech news. Want your gadget to be reviewed or have a release you'd like to be considered for publishing? Send Jonathan an email, jonathan [at] trustednerd.com
[…] Over the past few months, I’ve been testing out the Martian Notifier Smartwatch. I first saw the Martian Notifier at CES 2014 and I immediately fell in love with it but it wasn’t available yet, so I did a review on the Martian Passport. […]