Pebble Watch. Long Wait. Worthwhile Smart-Accessory.

I missed out on backing the Pebble Watch’s 10-million dollar kickstarter. They were the record-holder and poster-child for kickstarter for quite some time.

It’s delivery, though, was not without hiccups. It was nearly a full year for some backers between backing and receiving their watch. This is after the Pebble team promised it within 6 months. I did get in an early pre-order, though, and although it was about 8 months for mine to arrive (including 4 weeks between it shipping and it arriving at my door) now it is finally here, it has lived up to my expectations (phew!)

It is a little disingenuous, I think, to call the Pebble Watch a “smart-watch.” By itself, it only tells the time: not too smart. It’s more like a “pager for your phone.” Basically it connects to your phone via bluetooth and calls and messages that come in pop up on your watch. Out of the box it’s just SMS, Calls, E-mails, and Facebook.

All I wanted the pebble to do is to flash up notifications so I could quickly absorb the information and then move on without having to pull my phone out. Sure, if it’s something I need to action, then I’ll fumble with my phone, but a good percentage of my phone’s bleeps and bloops throughout the day are merely informational. My second goal was to leave my phone on silent. The Pebble vibrates with incoming notifications, so it makes nary a peep, but there’s no way I’d miss one. With all messages coming directly to my wrist, there is little need to have my phone make any sound at all. I had quite cool Tasker profiles set up to change my volume depending on where I was – and it would still sometimes be too loud, or I’d miss a call. Neither of those should be an issue any more.

Well, now it has arrived – does it live up to my requirements? Yes. Absolutely. Not straight out of the box… but it only took downloading one little app called “Pebble Notifier” which pipes all of your notifications to your wrist (with customisation possible to exclude ones you really don’t need.) It never misses a beat; it is subtle and effective.

I’ve been downstairs, having left my phone upstairs, and seen a call coming in on my wrist with enough time to dash up and catch it. I can receive e-mails in the shower (the watch is water-proof rated to 5 ATM.) I can get those quick little notifications and e-mails without having to pull out my phone. Facebook updates: A quick glance tells me “Not immediate, I’ll see it next time I log on.” Or, alternatively: “Oh, I am interested in that! Time to pull out my phone!”

It’s the little things, I suppose, but it’s working a treat.

 

Here’s some other, less-interesting, facts about the Pebble Watch:

  • It works with iOS as well, but I don’t know how well. I know it does the basics fine, but I believe it struggles with things that have been brought to the Android platform with Pebble Notifier.
  • It comes in 5 colours.
  • You can change the watch face to suit your need. There’s quite a lot to choose from at http://www.mypebblefaces.com/ or you can generate your own.
  • Although the phone is not that smart, you can install apps to it. These tend to be watch-centric apps such as a stopwatch, a new alarm system, a new music controller, etc. The Pebble App on your phone painlessly pushes these apps and watchfaces to your wrist in seconds.
  • Oh, yes, did I mention you can control your music from your wrist? You can see what’s playing too.
  • Thanks to the e-paper display, the battery lasts about a week (I haven’t had it a full week yet, but it’s gone 3 days so far without charge and pretty heavy use.)

So. Not much to complain about, except how long it takes to get the damn thing. If you live in America, you can pick one up from BestBuy (you bastards.) Everyone else is looking at a couple months wait.

This is actually a reminder: “OK Google, remind me to blog in 2 hours.”

How does it look? Well. Not great. It’s not the worst looking timepiece in the world but it looks and feels pretty cheap. The funny thing is, the thing that originally caught my eye about the Pebble was the flashy photo up top. When I read the specifications I had to have one (most notably the e-paper display. Tangent: although there is a bunch of new smart-watches on the horizon – such as iWatch, and possibly a Google offering – no-one has yet stolen the e-paper display idea, which is the Pebble’s killer feature.)

As time went by, though, I became less-impressed with the look. Now it is here, I find it errs on the side of kinda-ugly. It’s extremely light, especially since I replaced a metal watch for it, which makes it feel flimsy. It also looks like it’s made from plastic… which, to be fair, it totally is. The wristband is also a stiff plastic-looking rubber (but is extremely comfortable.) I think the whole look could be greatly improved by swapping the wristband.

Look, I’m not embarrassed to wear it, but I’m also not going out of my way to show it off. Considering what a cool little package it is, it takes some effort to convince people to check it out, because at first glance you might be forgiven for thinking it was a $7 watch I grabbed at a service station.

I expect the Pebble Watch is not for everyone. Afterall, I know lots of people who resisted getting a smart phone for the longest time. These sorts of people will seriously baulk at the idea of being even more connected to your phone (although I’d argue the “get information at a glance” feature actually frees you from your phone somewhat.) Having said that, I’ve found it absolutely worth it’s value in the numerous, small ways in which it’s changed my daily routine. “A++, would wear again.”

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