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Wearable Tech

Get a Martian mVoice smartwatch with Alexa for $68

Forget Alexa, though -- she's not really the main attraction. A stylish watch and customizable notifications are. Plus: Learn how to start a side-hustle biz for $26.

CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter!


martian-mvoice-tan-strap-angled

The Martian mVoice looks more like a watch than a smart gadget.

Martian

Like yesterday's bonus deal, today's offering comes from Meh. As fate would have it, there's another deal coming from it again tomorrow. I want to assure you this is mere coincidence, not favoritism. I make a concerted effort to spread out deals from various sellers, but this week, well, Meh's on a cool-stuff roll.

And, actually, let me note right up front that today's deal isn't perfect. The product has a few design issues and doesn't really capitalize on its most celebrated feature. But I'm going to make a case for it anyway, for reasons I'll explain below.

First, the deal: Today only, and while supplies last, Meh has the Martian mVoice smartwatch with Alexa, Siri and Google Now for $68, plus $5 for shipping. It's new, not refurbished, and available in your choice of six handsome styles.

The mVoice would run you $295 (!) if purchased directly from Martian, and Amazon sells it for $162. So, no question, it's a killer price.

Never miss a notification

But is it a good product? That depends on what you want from it. Like previous Martian watches, this one excels in two key areas: Looking like an actual watch and delivering notifications from your phone.

The latter arrive in the form of vibrations, the patterns for which you can customize per app. A text message, for example, could be buzz-buzz-buzzzzzzzz. A phone call: buzzzzzz-buzzzzzz. You also get a visual in the form of text that scrolls across a small OLED window embedded in the bottom of the watchface.

As regular readers know, wrist-based notifications are my main reason for wearing a smartwatch and the chief reason I recommend them. Everything else -- apps, fitness features, etc. -- is just, well, meh. (Heh.)

Leave Alexa out of it

The mWatch also lets you invoke Alexa, Google Now or Siri from your wrist. Depending on how you typically use a voice assistant, this may prove useful -- or it may frustrate you like crazy. Alexa, for her part, isn't particularly useful on a watch. For starters, you have to long-press a button before you can issue a command. And she can't do things like read your text messages aloud.

My advice: If you're going to use a voice assistant, stick with Google or Siri. By all accounts, the Alexa implementation is wonky at best.

As for the watch itself, it looks nice enough, with a leather strap and real-watch appearance. It's also on the chunky side and decidedly plastic-looking when viewed up close.

Battery life is a plus: The actual watch runs for a full year on its button-cell battery, while the smart features are good for 4-5 days between charges. But recharging the latter requires a proprietary micro-USB cable, which has long been one of the most maddening things about Martian's watches.

CNET hasn't reviewed the mVoice, and a lot of the reviews I found elsewhere weren't too favorable. But those were all based on either Martian's $295 price tag or Amazon's $160. As I've said before, some problems can be forgiven if the price is right.

Bottom line: If you want a watch that looks like a watch but can notify you of appointments, incoming calls and messages and so on, the mVoice is worth considering -- especially at this price.

Your thoughts?

amazon-fba-logo

Bonus deal: I'm a big believer in the "side hustle," a little business you can start on the cheap and run in your spare time.

For example, some folks have hustled their way to a nice little extra income by leveraging Amazon FBA ("Fulfilled by Amazon") or Ebay. Great, but how do you learn the ropes? I recommend an online course -- like this one: Ending soon, StackSocial is offering The Complete Side Hustle Bundle for $26.10 when you apply promo code BFDEALS10 at checkout.

This collection of 12 online courses (hosted at SkillSuccess) covers all manner of Amazon FBA and Ebay selling, marketing and product-sourcing. I'm not sure I agree with the estimated $2,388 value of these courses, because you can find similar individual ones fairly cheaply at places like Udemy.

But I'm genuinely curious about this, and willing to invest $26 myself to see what it's all about. Here's some interesting reading on the subject. If things go well, you're all invited to spend the weekend at my mansion.

Update: After completing the redemption, I find there are only 10 courses in my SkillSuccess account. I'm checking with StackSocial for help with correcting the error. Stay tuned!