LAS VEGAS — The world of wearables is getting fancier. Martian Watches and fashion label Guess today (Jan. 5th) announced a series of shiny new smartwatches that deliver notifications to your wrist, and look extra-slick doing so. Available in May for an estimated $250 to $300, the 2015 series is made up of four styles of Martian-branded timepieces and two Guess ones.
I had a chance to check out the new devices here at CES, and was impressed by the watches' good looks and improved functions.
It's a bit of a stretch to call Martian watches "smartwatches," since the devices don't have actual touch screens. Their faces are comprised of a regular analog watch, with a small rectangular bar at the bottom that serves up text notifications. The Voice Command version has a function that triggers the linked device's voice-control assistant, such as iOS' Siri or Android's Google Now. This lets you respond to texts, pull up search results or control music (on iOS) from your wrist.
With a firmware update that was launched in November, the 2015 Voice Command watches now offer custom vibration patterns, notification filters and more compatible apps. The new watches come in new collections, with stainless steel and resin faces in four different flavors: Aviator and Commander for men, and Monarch and Electra for women. The seven prototypes that I saw all looked elegant and attractive, although the watch face module was chunkier than I would have liked.
During my time with the watches, notifications showed up on the bar to alert the wearer of incoming messages. You can define the number of characters you want to preview on your watch via the Martian app. Through the app or the watch, you can turn on a small LED light to help light the way in dark places, find your lost phone or watch or get an alert when you are separated from your phone.
The 2015 Martian Watch collection is also water-resistant, and packs an improved battery that could offer a minimum of two hours of talk time and seven days on standby. The battery that operates the analog component of the watches can last up to two years. The new line also has an onboard microUSB port for charging, an improvement over the proprietary jack that its predecessor had.
You'll be able to get the stylish new Martian Watches via Best Buy, Bloomingdale's, Amazon and AT&T stores once the devices launch this spring.