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Clearly a watch to watch

AT the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, there seemed to be an explosion of technology-enabled watches.

I'd guess it will be like a game of musical chairs, with only a few lasting after the music stops, much like the explosion of tablets at the show a few years ago.

One I'm sure will last is the Martian Passport series, which they promote as "The World's First Voice-Command Smartwatch."

This is a rare time that I did have to read the instructions, but they were clear and easy to follow; press this button, then that button, etc.

They do have an interesting item in the instruction book about how the average person checks their phone 150 times a day. I think that number is grossly understated, but I'm sure many of those 150 are to check the time for those with a watch-less wrist.

Once you're set up and make a Bluetooth connection with your smartphone, you get notifications of callers, email, social media, texts, calendar alerts and event-activated Siri on an iPhone.

You can respond with the watch and talk into it like you're a secret agent or just use it as an alert to either take out your smartphone or ignore it.

If the contact information for the caller is in your phone, you'll see that name on the watch display. If you don't have the name entered, you'll see the phone number.

All the other information you are being alerted to is shown on the display running across the bottom of the front of the watch (96- by 16-pixel graphic OLED display).

The Martian watch also can be set to trigger your phone's camera.

Once your watch is paired with a phone, it will vibrate when they get out of range of each other (Bluetooth range is about 10 metres), letting you know you left the phone behind.

An internal battery needs to be charged for two hours every few days via USB, depending on the amount of use.

I have to admit, it does take a little getting used to having your wrist vibrating for a phone call or message alert. While eating lunch with friends last week, my wrist starting vibrating and I said just that, which caused some odd looks from my comrades.

In addition to the smartphone capabilities, this is one good-looking watch for keeping up with that old-fashioned thing of just checking the time.

Details: $299 in colour combinations of black, white and silver; www.martianwatches.com.

This one is a snap

I'VE been familiar with the Eye-Fi SD media cards for years and had great success with them going from a camera to a computer, but a direct connection to my iPad has been cumbersome and involved third-party apps, which never seem to work flawlessly.

All that came to an end last week when I tried the Eye-Fi Mobi WiFi Camera to Phone 8GB, SDHC Class 10 memory card along with the Eye-Fi app (free for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire).

The setup is simple and it worked from the start; just download the app and enter the provided activation code.

Inside the memory card is Wi-Fi, letting you make a direct connection from the memory card to your device, so this system works without an Internet connection.

Assuming you put the memory card in an Eye-Fi-compatible camera, you're all set to start taking photos.

Images are captured on the memory card along with automatically downloading into my iOS (iPhone 5s) image library, where they can be sent to social media when you switch over to an Internet connection.

Since the images are still stored on the card, you will be able to download them for archiving on your computer.

This system enables you to use a real camera for optimum image quality vs. using a cellphone, which provides instant access for social media but will not be the best quality for long-term use for large prints, etc.

I tested it with large JPGs on a high-end digital SLR and a point-n-shoot camera and found both to work great for photos and video.

There's not a lot to it, which makes for the perfect accessory.

The Eye-Fi Pro X2 16GB memory card has faster speeds designed for capturing HD video.

Details: $49.99 8GB, $79.99 16GB $99.99 32GB; www.eye.fi.

App spotlight

TRACKING your daily activities over a long period can help you figure out what changes you need to make to be happier. If you want to do this on your iPhone, then OptimizeMe is what you need.

At its core, the app is an activity log. When you do anything, you put it in. There are four broad categories -- health, creativity, pleasure and routine -- each of which have lots of subcategories, from how much you walked, what you ate, whether you watched TV and if you had sex. OptimizeMe also integrates with the Moves app if you have that installed, easily tracking your steps and runs. I suggest you get that because you aren't going to remember to switch on OptimizeMe's tracker each time, but Moves just works in the background to make it happen.

The cool part about OptimizeMe is the analysis it gives you later. All of the data you logged are turned into beautiful charts with a lovely correlation feature where it takes data from one activity (like sleeping) and shows how much it affects another activity (like your overall mood). Initially, I got nothing -- but just three days into the app, there was a distinct correlation between my dinner habits and sleep habits. I spoke to a friend who has been using the app for a longer time and his iPhone has a lot of these great correlations now.

But OptimizeMe is still dependent on you inputting the data accurately and honestly; it can't work without that. For all the smarts -- it even has a Siri-like assistant named "Ari," who is just a gimmick -- it is reliant on your regular updates, so I'd recommend setting a daily reminder at night to update the free app.

-- Lifehacker.com

Portable -- and pretty -- power

PAICK'S new portable battery, called the Noble, is only 1.27 centimetres thick but has a big-time 6000mAh Li-ion battery of power inside.

The company has designed the pocket-sized battery with fashion in mind, featuring an aluminum alloy high-performance case.

A dust-proof pop-up slot opens to display two USB and one micro-USB ports for charging.

The iPhone 5 series can get up to three charges before the battery needs a charge; other smartphones can get two charges and an iPad, one.

Details: $64.99, but a promotion has it at $49.99 through March 20; www.paick.com.

Twitter.com/greggellman

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 2, 2014 ??65521

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