Wearable devices are proliferating the culture, but nothing continues to garner more attention than that of a “smart” watch. Maybe it’s because it echoes the past where the time was always just a look away, rather than the pulling out of a cellphone to read its LCD screen. Or maybe it’s because there’s something so much cooler about having access to information on one’s wrist. Regardless of which, the Martian G2G Watch deserves its place on your wrist, just as the smartphone deserves to stay in the pocket and out of site. What’s important to note about this $249.00 watch is that it’s just as attractive as a timepiece as it is “smart.” That’s because the phone’s technology takes care of so much of the heavy lifting that the watch’s battery doesn’t have to go nuts (you can also turn the watch off when not needed and it will re-sync when turned back on). So to paraphrase the track from the Cars’ last album, lets strap it on.
Setting up the G2G watch involves some physical acts done to the watch itself; using the right-sided knob sets the actual time, while combinations of the two left-sided knobs are used initially to pair it with a smartphone (iPhone 5) running an app. Strategic presses of the left-sided knobs display various functions on the small LCD screen — its being an OLED panel makes the icons and text highly readable, if minute. It’s also more visible in daylight as a result, although the same can’t be said for the LED illumination that can be activated. For the most part, receiving a vibration signal on the wrist calls the most attention to the watch having something to “say,” and is the default mechanism for its gaining your attention. The app, as stated, isn’t there to be used (which would negate the watch’s value), but to regulate the functions that are available/desired by the wearer. For example, choosing to access Facebook requires first signing into the app on the smartphone, along with checking off its function in the app (the same goes for Twitter mentions). Other settings involve how much vibration is to occur, whether texts are to be enabled/disabled at all times or at selected times, the speed at which text scrolls and whether to subscribe to a 40-character limit or go with unlimited SMS coverage. Other settings take care of activating calendar alerts, weather forecasts and the time, battery life (a 2 hour daily charge in the morning via the USB slot gives enough “juice” for the day) and alerts for email.
A “leash” can also be set up so that if either the phone or watch gets out of range of the other, the one that’s not moving will notify you. I still have horrors of years ago when I unwittingly left my Treo on an outside table during CES to go order from a food wagon, so that’s a major feature for me — having the watch “warn” me if I were to leave the iPhone and walk away is the deal-breaker that I’m glad is there. Of course all of these functions involve the technology of the smartphone — that includes being able to “talk” to the phone and have it perform functions; in essence accessing iOS and Siri from my wrist (Android users aren’t excluded, btw). There’s also the ability to transmit audio from the phone to the watch — ala a Bluetooth speaker, if you will, but it eats up battery power and holding the wrist to the ear isn’t worth doing for long stretches. Mostly the speaker is being used to take calls and the volume is more than discernable, even when there’s a fair amount of surface noise (of course you can always hold the watch closer to your ear and then tilt it to the mic as needed). Another function to leave off is the “gesture” control — not because it’s not clever but because it’s only potentially useful. Being able to answer a call with a wave would be better than having to press a knob (especially if you’re pushing the watch up to your ear at the same time), but right now the only command that can be activated is to decline an incoming phone call with a wrist movement. Other than that, the G2G performs in an efficient manner that makes having it worthwhile. Some of that comes from the quality components (like the noise-canceling mic), but mostly its from the intelligence the company put forth in syncing the capabilities of the smartphone to the watch, rather than trying to make the watch do it all: think of the watch as the conduit to the phone for the person.
I found there to be a number of times when the G2G was the most useful — while working on the word processor for example, since I’m no fan of wearing headphones and the phone’s position to the charger is out of easy reach. Also the G2G was great to have when I was on foot, since there’s no denying that it’s much simpler to access the controls from the wrist, especially in situations where pulling out the phone could be problematic or dangerous. Frankly I just liked having the watch on my wrist — at a recent event I was covering, it was many time simpler to speak into the watch than it was to pull out the iPhone while at the same time holding a camera. Or while at the buffet afterwards either. Bottom line: Having a Martian G2G watch provides both a bit of retro nostalgia (the rubberized band pushes that along, combined with the heavy metal chassis), coupled with smartphone efficiency. It may take a bit to get used to — not much because the use is so intuitive — but being able to see the time at a glance without pulling out a phone is just the start of how useful it is. Not to mention the fun of seeing people turn their heads when you start to talk into your watch. Hey Dick Tracy, welcome to the 21st Century.
Anti-scratch glass, Analog quartz watch with Japanese movement
Micro-USB cover hinge flimsy
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.