Time for Pebble
When I saw the original Pebble I really liked the concept of it but didn’t have the money to invest in the Kickstarter at the time. When the Pebble Time came out with it’s colour screen and slightly more sleek look I was curious enough to buy one to try it out. I looked at some video reviews, put my money down and waited patiently for it to arrive direct from Pebble.
The Pebble series of watches have a very different feel from most smart watches. Most of this comes from it using an e-ink display which means that the battery lasts about 7 days between charges which for me was one of it’s biggest selling points. The second thing I noticed about the watch was how intuitive and dare I say cute the interface was. It uses a lot of nice animations to flip between screens, even the charging animation is cute with a coffee cup filling up to show remaining charge time. The Pebble Time has a simple three button system, the middle one works as a ‘selection’ while the top and bottom work more as navigation. For example when your looking through SMS you use the top button to go backwards (in time) and the bottom button to go forwards and that interface traverses across most of the other apps. It takes a very short amount of time to get used to and to me screams intuitive.
The actual physical look of the watch is clean and sleek without being too much of a show off which I really like. It doesn’t scream “Hey look I’m really expensive new tech, steal me”, it’s a lot more subtle but with a certain sense of style. The watch I’d water resistant to 30 meters which should not be surprising but I was very impressed with. The always on display is great too, not having to press a button to see what the time is I believe is a fairly essential feature of a watch. Of course being e-ink it also means the the display is always visible and does not suffer from glare in direct sunlight. As you might think it has quite a lot of the standard bits of functionality you expect from a smartwatch, fitness and sleep tracking, notifications, e-mail, weather etc etc. Updates are sent to the watch from your phone paired via Bluetooth with apps available for iPhone and Android (4.0+). The watch even contains a small microphone which means you can actually compose short audio replies, but this is currently only available to Android users with iPhone functionality due in a later update.
That’s pretty much it really, the rest of what I’m going to say is all down to my opinion so be warned. I did use the watch exclusively for a few months but found myself using possibly a quarter of the functions available on it. Although I will cover this by saying that I am one of these people who can put down my phone for days on end without feeling panic. I’m sure that someone who really need to be connected all the time will feel more benefit. You can use Misfit, Up (by Jawbone) or the newly released Pebble Health to help track your fitness but since the Pebble Time is also missing a heart rate monitor I didn’t feel like I was benefitting from this feature. I really liked the way I could control the music that my phone was playing, really handy in the gym to skip a track. There is even a small app called Music Boss (£1.89) which allows you use more than one music app which made this feature much more powerful. I know that most bluetooth devices now feature this so it’s not exactly a new feature (just new to me). Even after the few months of using it I could not justify it replacing my current watch. For me the multiple notifications were sometimes an annoyance rather than a help. I found myself turning most of them off which sort of defeats the object.
Maybe I’m not ready for a bit of kit like this. It’s possible that I am just incompatible with it no matter how good I think it is as a device. It’s really well made with some strong components, some great support, an easy to acquire and get into dev kit with no need for any special software and the ability to test your app without needing a device. Even though mine is going on e-bay I will say that it’s certainly one of the best smart watches for it’s price bracket, it’s just not for me.