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Always On: Smartwatch shootout

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Always On: Smartwatch shootout

6:29 /

Molly Wood tests out the Martian Passport and the Pebble to find out if these smartwatches integrate seamlessly into her life or whether they cause a bit of chaos.

-Time for a smartwatch shootout. This is obviously the hottest category in technology right now. Samsung just announced the Galaxy Gear right before we shot this. We didn't have one at press time, but it sounds like it only works with Samsung phones anyway. So, I'm testing some more universal smartwatches. The current darling of the set is the Pebble right here, comparing that with the Martian Passport. I'm trying to find out if either of those can displace my Michael Kors. So, I've been testing out the Martian Passport smartwatch and I have to say that, of all of the smartwatches that I have seen or tried out, this is obviously the prettiest. I get tons of compliments whenever I wear this. I got it in girly white, although it does come in black, but it's really attractive. It has a very sort of classic timepiece style look up here and then a small little LED notification screen and a notification light. Call Allison Tom. -Calling Allison Tom. -The pros, overall, for me, are how easy its notifications are. Basically, any app that can do notifications, you can get a little note down here, so you can get incoming texts, phone calls, tweets, Facebook messages, e-mails. Now, its big claim to fame also is that it is a two-way communicator. It actually uses voice control. When you talk to it, you're just talking to Siri or to the Android voice controls. Remind me to make a haircut appointment. That's pretty awesome and I think it's a huge selling point. Generally speaking, the whole thing is just pretty simple, right? Like, it just gives you notifications, you can talk to it if you want to, you can play music out of it. I found it pretty easy to connect via Bluetooth. So, that leads me into the cons of the Martian Passport watch. One thing I noticed with the Bluetooth connection is that it stole the Bluetooth connection from my car. So, if I was in the car and I had an incoming call or I wanted to use voice controls, I was no longer going through the in-car Bluetooth system. I was only going through the watch. One other con about this watch is that it's just a little bit finicky and some of the controls in the app are confusing. For example, I'm pretty sure I have it set to notify me when I get a text, but sometimes, it notifies me, and sometimes, it doesn't and I don't know really why it's decided not to or when it's going to. That's annoying. Also, I find that trying to check out the notifications and see what's happening on the watch is really distracting when you're driving. Like, if this thing all of a sudden starts vibrating and things start happening on the screen and you got your hands on the wheel and then you're short of time to look at this and read it and then a notification is scrolling across it like this, it's vibrating and things are ringing, and I was-- I don't know what to do. Here, I want out. All right. So, my impressions on the Pebble watch here. Now, I have to say that, when I first tried it on, I thought that it was a little cartoony probably because it had the Mario watch-face app, but then when I wore it with my orange shirt, I realized it looked kind of cool. And then, we went around the office trying it on different people and it looked cool on all of them too. I think the design is a little bit of a slow burn, but it really grew on me. And now, I really like it especially because I found this kind of stylish watch piece. One of the cool things about this watch actually is that it has multiple watch-faces built in that you can scroll through. Now, overall, I have definitely found this watch pretty easy to use. It has a lot of buttons, as you can see the ones on the side, scroll through things and bring up basic menus and it's really simple. Pairing is very easy. And then the button on the left here acts as basically a home button to back out of menus and get you back to your watch-face. One thing I don't like is that the Pebble unfortunately has a proprietary charging cable. The Martian watch charges over micro-USB, so you can use it with any charger that you already have at home. If you forget the charger on this guy, you're in trouble. So, one interesting thing about the Pebble watch is that, apparently, it's water-resistant. Now, I have found over and over that water-resistant does not mean waterproof; however, I'm hoping that it will give me a little peace of mind for basic tasks such as washing my hands in the sink, you know, you always get a little splashing to it, it got a little soap on there, get that off. You know, you gotta do like the surgeon wash like all the way up to the elbows. All right. It seems fine so far. I mean, don't get me wrong. I'm never gonna take a shower or go swimming with this thing, but I do appreciate that I can leave it on during my surgeon scrub. What I do like about this big screen is that if a long e-mail comes in, I can press the buttons on the side and actually scroll through it so I can read the whole thing. That has proven pretty handy a couple of times. I've also noticed that the Bluetooth range on this watch seems to be really good. In fact, it was working for me at one point, 30 or 40 feet away from my actual phone whereas our reviewers have said that the Martian smartwatch only works more like 10 or 12 feet away. Now, the Pebble, because it has an SDK available, has some apps. I haven't tried too many of them because they are almost all for pay, but from browsing the various apps in the App Store, it does seem like they're somewhat limited. As far as cons go for this watch and the other impact, I found the notifications very inconsistent. Sometimes, I couldn't get text messages to come through at all. Other times, I would get only text and no e-mail. One other possible con is that this watch, so far, has been hard to get. It only costs $150 which is a really good price compared to something like the Martian, but because it's been a kick-starter, some of the fulfillments have been a little bit slow. Hopefully, they'll improve on that front, but you might have to wait awhile to get your Pebble. I have to say going into this, I thought the Martian Passport was gonna be the clear winner because I like the design so much, but the Pebble won me over with its simplicity and the potential for all that functionality and not to mention this nice big screen. However, I'm gonna have to say that neither of these is actually a buy for me 'cause I'm still not sold on smartwatches. It's annoying. I don't need that much info coming in all the time. No, thank you.
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