Smartwatches are a funny thing. In today’s world where “Smart” devices are becoming more and more prevalent, even going as far as having a genre of gadgets coined “Internet of Things”, it’s hard to say which of these are the best. They all do many of the same essential functions, they alert you of notifications that you receive on your phone.
Sure, there are some extra bells and whistles in some of the higher tiered smartwatches, but they essentially all function to make receiving notifications less of a bear when by displaying on your wrist rather than requiring you to take your phone out of your pocket each time.
In a world where smartwatches come in varying sizes, colors, and prices, we set out to answer a very fundamental question: could you buy a smartwatch that you are satisfied with for under $40? We’re going to answer that question here today. We’ll be reviewing the Martian Notifier, a very basic smartwatch for less than $35.
The Martian Notifier has a very simplistic yet traditional design. On the surface we have a standard analog watch which is round with a slick metal “M” to the side of a small rectangular display. To the left of the display is an LED light that flashes when a notification comes in. The Roman numeral that dictates the hour 12 at the top of the display is a nice touch and gives a rather premium feeling to the watch. The rest of the watch is an incredibly grippy rubber material that gives the impression of a sport / fitness watch but has neither built into its functionality.
On the sides of the watch are silver metal buttons, the clock’s dial on the right with two buttons on the left. The two buttons have separate contextual buttons based on what’s on the display. For example, say a notification appears on the display and you want to dismiss it, quickly press the bottom silver button. There’s also a metal clasp at the end to tie the whole watch around your wrist. There’s also a vibration motor inside the casing that is responsible for alerting you when a notification comes in. To be honest it feels kind of heavy on your wrist but it adds a premium feeling weight to it.
Here’s where the Martian Notifier really shows its price. This watch does the very bare essentials. You connect the Notifier to your iOS or Android device via Bluetooth which was really simple to setup. You enable Bluetooth on your device, turn on the Notifier and you will be prompted to enter a passcode that is displayed on the watch. Once that’s entered on your device, the two will be paired seamlessly.
From day to day use, the Notifier proved to be actually pretty handy. I am using an iPhone 6 paired with the Notifier so any push notification that is sent to my device is pushed to my Notifier. A strong motor buzzes the Notifier on your wrist when you receive a notification which really helped me catch all notifications. This proved especially useful in large crowded areas where a lot of ambient noise was present. While I couldn’t hear the vibration on my watch, I most certainly felt it. It was actually pretty handy. There’s not a touch screen, nor any response technology like a speaker or microphone, which was something I saw myself wanting after a few days, but it really isn’t any evidence against the watch itself.
So let’s look back at the original question, could you buy a smartwatch that you are satisfied with for under $40? The short answer? Yes, yes you can. For less than $35 you can get a watch that is both stylish and functional. You will get a watch made of strong, sturdy materials that honestly does not feel cheap. You get all the basic functionality of a smartwatch by having all push notifications buzzed on your wrist so you never miss a beat. You will notice after a while, especially if you have friends with substantially more expensive smart watches, that you are missing features like responding to messages you receive, taking photos, and more. However, I would argue that you don’t really need those things in a smartwatch. My ideal smartwatch is one that alerts me whenever my phone receives a notification which the Martian Notifier does very well.
While I would like to see things like a speaker for audible notifications along with the very strong vibration motor, the vibration is enough to train my brain to know I have received a notification when I feel that buzz on my wrist. When it comes down to it, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy smartwatch if all you’re looking for is an extension to your smart phone. For around $35, you’re getting a great deal with the Martian Notifier.
So what do you guys think? Have you purchased a sub-50$ smartwatch? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.