To start with you should know I’m running my Pebble via an Android phone, the HTC One.
I originally pre-ordered the Pebble via their website but ended up cancelling and buying direct via Best Buy. I didn’t get in on their Kickstarter project which was a huge success raising over $10m with a goal of $100k.
What makes the watch smart? Your smartphone does. Via Bluetooth, your phone pushes notifications and information you choose directly to your watch.
Typically the watch will then vibrate and the backlight will appear. That, and it will tell you the time, date weather or even let you play a game of Snake which some of you will remember from the days of the Nokia 3310.
Of course, you can also customise your Pebble with ‘watchfaces’ which you may download via the Pebble app. There are around 12 to choose from now (9/2/2013).
I think the original mock ups looked stylish and minimal. I ordered the ‘cherry’ red which was a bit of a mistake as the red is brighter than I had expected based on the original images seen on the kickstarter page. Overall, I think the design is good, not great. The build quality is solid and sturdy. After knocking it around a little already I can’t see any visible scuffs.
The screen is easy to read although I have noticed that there is a faint ‘streak’ visible on the inside of the screen.
While the screen is also easy to read, it’s obviously no retina display and can only successfully display basic graphics well. I look forward to seeing a more detailed e-ink display in future models. I’m not interested in a colour display if it means the screen is more difficult to read in sunny situations.
The charge lasts around 5-7 days but will obviously vary depending on how you configure your apps. Even out of the box I got a few days charge. I’ve only charged the watch once overnight in the first two weeks, with a little bit of charging at the office when I first unboxed it.
The power adaptor connects magnetically to the watch which is a nice touch, however the magnet is quite weak. Check out the connector here:
I’m pretty happy with it overall, keeping in mind that as an early adopter of a device like this makes you the subject of mockery. I’ve dealt with that before, I am not bothered by it, but you may find it a little embarrassing.
I’m not attached to the colour of the Cherry model, I think I’d prefer the Black version so I’m hunting around for a good skin to stick on and protect it. I tried the Skinomi but I was not at all happy with the fit after installing. That was a waste of $20!
Is it for everyone, no. The Pebble has a lot of potential as 3rd developers ramp up their efforts. The challenge I have is finding a balance between useful notifications and burdensome without rendering the Pebble somewhat useless. Take it from me, don’t set any chat apps to notify you of every message, I realized very quickly that this was an exercise in stupidity.
Ultimately, this is where I think the Pebble fails: I feel like I need to do the work to to make it super useful and fun to own, but that really should be clear out of the box.
Getting more out of Pebble
In an attempt to see what else I can get from the device I have so far installed the following apps onto my Android:
- Duh, the Pebble App – installing this first party app will give you all the functionality you need to get started, with the ability to choose which Music app you want to control with your watch. Notification options are Calls, SMS, Calendar events, Emails, Google Hangout messages, Facebook, WhatsApp, and ’3rd party’ notifications. I think 3rd party includes apps such as Runkeeper.
- Pebble Notifier – In short, this application allows you to select and activate from virtually any app you have installed. Some do what you might expect, but others, such as Pulse don’t push notifications as you might have thought.
- Glance – This app is a great addition for any Pebble owner, giving you more watchface options, most of which pull in weather data, and unread messages and missed call counts.
- Pebble Tasker ($1.99) & Tasker – If you want to really get tricky and geeky, install these apps. You can set triggers that will send almost any notification to your Pebble you can imagine. I’ve only tinkered with this briefly, it’s not super user-friendly.
Some more pics of the watch face and sides: