Martian Alpha Smartwatch Evaluation - Specs and Real-World Usage

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Martian Alpha Smartwatch Evaluation
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Specs and Real-World Usage

The following list of specifications and technical information has been copied from the Martian product page and posted here for your convenience. For up-to date information as well as firmware updates, please make sure to check their product page for all the latest information.

 

Specifications:

  • Analog quartz watch with Japanese movement
  • Upper Command Button
  • Lower Select Button
  • 96 x 16 pixel graphic OLED display
  • Bluetooth® 4.0 chip (classic Bluetooth and Bluetooth low energy)
  • RGB LED light
  • Vibrating Motor
  • 3-Axis Accelerometer
  • Silicone band with stainless steel clasp
  • Anti-scratch mineral glass
  • Micro USB port for recharging and firmware updates
  • Measurements: W:42mm H:15mm L:265mm

 

In The Box:

  • Martian Watch
  • Micro USB Cable
  • Quick Connect Guide

 

Wireless:

  • Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology
  • (classic and low energy)

 

Power & Battery:

  • 5 days of use time (separate analog watch battery will run for up to 2 years)
  • Built-in lithium polymer rechargeable battery
  • Up to 2 hours charging time
  • Charging via USB to computer or power adapter

 

 

Daily Usage:

One thing that I love about the Martian watch is that it is in fact - a watch. I'm also very thankful for the smart features integrated into the device, but I am a guy that likes watches and the Alpha looks very respectable. Some smartwatches look much more smart than watch and the design really suffers. Not so with Martian devices.

Overall, the watch is comfortable and not overly large as it comes in smaller than the Moto 360. It's not a small watch by any means, but at the same time, it's not a giant on your wrist and it looks very fashionable. In terms of features, some can be set right through the device itself - including stop-watch, Do-Not-Disturb, Light, Camera Mode and Find Phone, but other features are a bit more useful once they are set up with the Martian App.

App - Home Alerts Setup

 

The application is really pretty straightforward and it gives you the ability to turn on app notifications from a large list as well as dive deeper and setup notifications for apps that aren't on the main list. You can also specify vibration intensity and change the vibration pattern to almost anything you like.

 

The notifications get pushed from your phone to the Alpha and show up on the bright OLED display. As mentioned, you can have almost anything show up here and it works well in all lighting conditions. 

SMS Alert Weather

 

Other notable features that work very well include finding your phone, as well as finding your watch (from the phone). As long as they are within range and charged the emit a tone that will help you locate your device. If you enable "Leash", the Alpha will vibrate if you stray out of range of your device - reminding you to pick it up. The camera shutter release from the watch works great as well and I experienced no issues with it at all. A good thing to note is that it will make a shutter sound on your device that can't be disabled so you can creep on people and use it to take compromising images.

Google Now, although a beta feature with the current application works well and I use it to start navigation and with AD2P enabled through the Alpha, I hear the turn-by-turn instructions without taking my eyes off the road. You can also add calendar events, alarms, schedule meetings, take notes and more - all with a push of the top button on the Alpha when paired with your phone.

Battery life is very good on the Alpha when compared to the competition and if you aren't using it to make voice calls, it will easily last you 5+ days. If you use it to make voice calls, listen to movies and such, it will get you only a few hours as this is very battery intensive. The reality is that you won't be using it for a ton of voice and as such, the battery life is more than adequate. Much more.

There is a "Light" feature which turns on the notification LED to white and while it is a good attempt, you can see more with the OLED display lit up than you can with the micro-LED.

 

Conclusion:

Martian makes smartwatches for people who want a great watch with more features that they currently get from their analog-only device. The Martian Alpha is not as "smart" as other watches in the category, but it could be smart enough if all you want is simple notifications pushed to your wrist. It does a bit more than that, including voice commands, AD2P audio, finding phone, and the Do-Not-Disturb feature that is great for silencing your phone and watch during a meeting. In the end though - the Martian Alpha is a great watch with good "smart" features. 

Everything worked well enough, but the "Light" was a bit dim to be useful. In my opinion a feature like this should be cut from the software as it isn't usable and will likely leave the user feeling frustrated. The ability to customize what notifications get pushed to your wrist is great as well as the vibration intensity and pattern.

The downside of having voice in the watch is the limited water resistance. I normally shower with my Pebble on - and have even gone swimming with it, but I can't make myself take a quick shower with the Alpha as I don't have the confidence that the microphone and speaker grills - as well as the charging plug - would remain water-tight.

The fact is that the Martian Alpha is not a cheap device with an MSRP of $279 at time of publication. It is about the same price as a Moto 360, but it offers much less in the way of features - but way more in the way of elegance. At the end of the day, you have to decide if you want a great watch, smart features and good battery life over a super-smart device that will be dead by 4:00pm every day.

In my mind, the choice is clear. I'd choose the Alpha even if the price is the same. Martian has a few other models from last year that offer almost the same package and are priced considerably cheaper if you're looking to get into something and are on a budget. At the end of the day though, I still recommend the Martian Alpha and throughout the evaluation, it didn't make me feel sad to put my Pebble Steel on the shelf.

 

Pros:

  • Elegantly designed watch
  • Rugged body and strap should last
  • Micro-USB port for charging smart features
  • 2-year battery in main watch
  • Compatible with Android or iOS
  • Great battery life
  • Great microphone and speaker for hands-free experience
  • Gesture controls

 

Cons:

  • Not much cheaper than other "premium" smartwatches
  • Not waterproof (splash proof only)
  • No fitness tracker support currently

 

While I really do love the Martian Alpha, I can't help but feel that for $279, I should be able to get a fitness tracker and better water resistance - something to justify the price. What I am getting though is a great watch, great batter life and smart features that I will use. Many people want all the features but find out that they only use 20% or less of what is available. Martian has done their research and gives you want you will actually use.

Don't get me wrong, the watch is really good - great even, but the value is a little lean as it is priced at the high-end of the mid-range wearable market.

 

I would like to thank Martian for sending the Alpha our way. It has been an eye-opening experience and left me feeling that I do want to add one of these to my collection. It wouldn't sit in a draw as do most Apple Watches.

Please feel free to post your feedback, comments and questions right here.