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A smartwatch that's worth a look

THE first digital-notification watch I tried earlier this year from Martian (Passport) worked great, and the latest, the Martian Notifier, (US$129) works and looks even better.

It's advertised as "a watch to make life on earth easier" and after wearing it for a week I can confirm it really does. A quick peek at your watch for an email or message is much easier than constantly taking my iPhone out, using my touch ID and then scrolling for the message.

At times I thought I was in an old Get Smart show when talking into my watch, using the built-in mic and speaker for a hands-free call. Your smartphone or tablet connects via Bluetooth, so you get about 30 feet of range.

Setup takes a little time, but the instructions are well-explained, and there really are only two buttons to use after setting the analog time.

What I found really cool was just a tap of the glass gets rid of pestering incoming calls -- which are displayed with caller ID -- email and text messages on the scrolling OLED display across the 6 o'clock area on the watch face.

After downloading the free Martian Notifier app (iOS and Android), the instructions run you through the pairing and setup of many features. This includes some settings you will have to change on your smartphone.

Social-media notifications, alarms and reminders can be sent to the watch; tapping the glass brings back the most recent notification (within the last five minutes).

Other features include using the watch for health and fitness, bank alerts, traffic reports, triggering your phone's camera shutter and even earthquake alerts.

As for the analog wristwatch, it's really an attractive piece, available in red, white and black face plates, with just about every colour band imaginable for additional purchase, starting at US$20.

The watch needs a micro-USB charge every few days depending on usage. A separate analog watch battery is good for up to two years.

Details: US$129 for the watch, optional designer bands range from US$20 to US$35; www.martianwatches.com/notifier

Protect your phone around the pool

SOME do this accidentally, but being the brave sole I am, I chose to drop my iPhone 5s into my pool.

Actually, I'm not that brave, as my phone was encased with a Lifeproof fre for iPhone 5, making it waterproof. The case also was paired with the Lifeproof Lifejacket Float accessory for iPhone 5, which allows the case to float.

While fully enclosed, the device still has full functionality, including the touchscreen and volume controls. Your charging port and headphone jack are closed, but it can be paired with a Bluetooth speaker while floating.

The Lifejacket is molded from soft, buoyant foam, designed with a high-visibility orange finish and includes a lanyard and wrist strap.

Lifeproof, part of the Otterbox family, makes everything to keep an iPhone, iPad, iPod or Samsung Galaxy (S3, S4) weatherproof and floating in water. The cases aren't big and bulky like many others.

Details: Prices vary on devices, Lifeproof fre is currently on special for US$59.99, LifeJacket for iPhone 5/5c/5s is US$39.99; www.lifeproof.com

News you can use

PRESSREADER, an app that brings thousands of newspapers delivered to your tablet (iOS, Android, Mac and PC) every morning has undergone a tremendous redesign to enhance the user experience.

The new design requires just a touch of the screen to download newspapers and magazines. Many will find this useful to follow Brazilian newspapers for coverage of the upcoming World Cup soccer tournament.

The design makes it easier to navigate your publications, or browse for new ones.

A new feature is the home feed, which creates a daily newspaper with top news items you can customize. Along with the country of your choice, you can add specific sections (news, sports) or your own specific categories, such as technology.

If your local paper doesn't have its own standalone app, there's a great chance you'll find it in PressReader, which features more than 3,500 publications from 100-plus countries.

In addition to the 344 daily papers in the United States, other countries of origin include Canada, China, Italy and Zimbabwe, to name a few. New titles are added almost daily.

Once you choose the papers you want to be downloaded, you can get them daily or day to day depending on your reading needs.

Details: Prices start at 99 cents; www.pressreader.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 8, 2014 ??65521

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