Back in January, I posted a preview about the Pebble smart watch and was anxiously awaiting it’s estimated March-April arrival. As of this post, it’s August 28th and my Pebble FINALLY arrived on the 16th. And even though Best Buy started selling the Pebble in May, I decided not cancel my pre-order, and continued to wait. When I received the email that my Pebble was about to be shipped on August 14th, I decided to change my color from grey to red. Looking back from when it was announced and the day I placed my pre-order to now, when it is in my possession, has my opinion changed? Is the first gen Pebble worth it? Find out below. Disclaimer: I did not have an Android phone to test with the Pebble.
What It Does:
For the last two weeks, I’ve been putting my watch through the ringer and seeing what I can do with this “smartwatch.” So far, I’ve been able to track: my distance when biking to work, viewing any texts, iMessages, emails, and phone calls with the number and/or name of the person contacting me and lastly, and most importantly, the time. Unfortunately, there is no way to see tweets or Facebook posts on your Pebble if you’re using an iPhone; I found out that only Android-based smartphones have this ability through the Pebble app. As long as Bluetooth is on and the watch is connected to my iPhone, I can see the alert on my Pebble, scroll through the message if need be and then dismiss it, which takes me back to the previous watch face I had set.
Speaking of which, even though the Pebble app allows you to add two additional faces designed by the people at Pebble, you can actually add many more! One of the brilliant ideas that Pebble implemented was to keep the software open for others to possibly expand the potential for the watch, as well as for making their own watch faces. Through my research, I found two websites that have dozens of different watch faces to download: pebblebarn.com and mypebblefaces.com. If you access these sites from your smartphone that’s synced with your Pebble, installing them is pretty easy. I found that the watch can save up to eleven different watch faces, and I had downloaded and installed eight out of the possible eleven.
What Do I Think Of It?
Considering this is the first generation of the Pebble smartwatch, I think it’s off to a good start. The unboxing was super simple, nothing intricate or extravagant. All it comes with is the watch and the magnetic USB cable that charges the device through any computers’ USB port or basic USB charger. The cable latches onto the Pebbles’ left side, similar to the way Apple charges their laptops.
The wrist strap is made of polyurethane and for me, it’s comfortable to wear, considering every watch I’ve worn, that didn’t have a metallic band, caused my wrists to itch and get really dry. It’s delightfully lightweight, taking into account how big the watch is, and it’s pretty thin too. The tech specs say it’s waterproof, down to 5 ATM (shorthand for “atmospheres,” a unit for measuring water depth) or roughly 163 feet deep. I’ve worn it while washing dishes and it still works just as well. Lastly, controlling whatever music I am listening to is very easy on the watch, since it utilizes the physical buttons built in and shows you what the buttons do on screen, in case you need a reminder.
The only feature that I had little knowledge of involved tracking exercise, which then got me more interested. Through an iPhone app called RunKeeper, which is free in the iPhone App Store, I can track my progress with any exercise-based activities like running, hiking, skiing, skating, rowing, and biking. I love to bike and recently started biking to work and when the app is synced with the Pebble, I can see my time, distance and pace while I’m riding.
The watch has a vibrate motor built in, so when an alert comes through, you can comfortably feel it without the vibration making too much noise. I’ve been using my watch for situations where I didn’t want to take my phone out of my pocket, just to see what caused my phone to buzz. I tried using the Pebble for an alarm, a feature built-in, and it woke me up, and wearing the watch while sleeping was not comfortable nor uncomfortable, so that’s personal preference.
Now when it comes to the watch faces, had Pebble NOT made their software open, allowing for people to design their own watch faces, I definitely would not have bought the device. The watch faces were the final selling point for me, and I am really psyched to have found several designs, for free, that I switch often, depending how I feel during the day. Here are four favorites that I found on mypebblefaces.com:
The Pebble smart watch can be described as a simple, functional, and easy-to-use watch. Although the battery life came up short for me, 4-5 days vs. the advertised 7 days, I haven’t had any problem finding time to let it charge. However, having the watch connected via Bluetooth on my iPhone does drain the phone’s battery pretty fast. I’m a casual iPhone user and sometimes get up to 3 days before I need to charge my iDevice. With Bluetooth on and synced with the Pebble, I have to charge my iPhone at the end of each day. To some, that is a major issue, but for me, I find it manageable. I’ve already started a new system/pattern of turning off Bluetooth on both devices when I have easy access to my iPhone. Although that does take away the main point of the smart watch, if it saves me more battery for both devices, I’m willing to give it a try.
All things considered, even though the watch costs $150, I still think it’s worth it. Pebble had an objective with this watch and I think it meets all those expectations, but nothing more. I didn’t find an extra feature or any other Easter egg that left me surprised. It met my expectations and I still think that’s a good thing. It’s easy on the eyes, whether reading the message in direct sunlight, wearing sunglasses, or in the dark. The watch is as good as the sum of its parts: lightweight, water-proof, stylish, a good exercise tracker, easy to use, multiple cool watch faces, and a decent battery. I am curious to see what the market brings, in terms of competition, but I am more interested to see what Pebble can add for generation 2.