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Review: Citizen Eco-Drive Proximity Watch for iPhone 4S and iPhone 5

The Citizen iPhone compatible watch received some substantial publicity about the time all of the excitement about the Pebble watch was going on.

Citizen is a well-respected high-end watch manufacturer and designing a Bluetooth watch capable of communicating over the latest iPhones seemed a lust-worthy purchase.

The watch has an attractive analog face, and it can signal you with a subtle vibration when email or a calendar event occurs. It also vibrates on an incoming call. The app gets the current time from your iPhone. When you change time zones, the watch automatically updates the date and time. Another nice feature is that it can trigger your iPhone to make a sound if you aren't sure where it is and it's within Bluetooth range. It also can let you know if you've left your phone somewhere because it senses you have left the room without your phone and sounds an alarm.

The watch lists for US$495 but is available for much less from online retailers. So how useful is it? Not as useful as I had hoped. The watch is complicated, and the rather busy face makes the settings pretty small for my tired old eyes. Pairing was pretty easy. It's done with a free app from Citizen, which also turns several features on and off. The Bluetooth connections only lasts for a set time, then it un-pairs to save battery on your iPhone. I found email to be a mess. It has some quick templates for Google, Yahoo and AOL Mail, but for a watch that only works with an iPhone it is an amazing omission to not have a setup for iCloud. You can do it manually, but I was never successful, being told each time my password or username were not right. Several people using the watch have had the same issue with Apple email accounts.

Another blow is that there is no text message notification. Just email (when it works) and calendar notifications. Seems like SMS would be just as important.

Then there is the matter of utility. All it does is vibrate when mail comes in, or a scheduled event is happening. But the iPhone can already vibrate under those circumstances, so what is the point exactly?

As a watch, the Citizen Proximity is attractive and rugged, and the ability to auto-set the time is very nice. The other features seem half-baked. The Pebble, much talked about but way behind on delivery, gives you information as text on the watch face. Perhaps Citizen will update its software and add the missing features and fix the email bugs. If you're more interested in a high-quality Eco-Drive watch, the Citizen is fine. If you are looking for breakthrough watch/iPhone capabilities there's nothing to see here. You might want to wait for the $150.00 Pebble, which has more features but is still unavailable. Or do what a lot of people do, which is forget wearing a watch and get the time from your cellphone.

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