A Week with the Pebble Smartwatch

My vintage Palm PDA watch and the Pebble Smartwatch

It’s been a long journey from when I first backed this Kickstarter project in May 2012 until arriving in my hands after raising over $10 Million and becoming a crowdsourced superstar.

My @pebble watch has arrived!

I’ve been a fan of smart(er) watches for a long time as you can see above that I have an original Palm PDA watch. I also have about three different MSN Spot Watches from back in the day:
swatch.JPG

The MSN Spot Watch lasted much longer than I was expecting but it still never really took off with no real developer support beyond a bunch of watchfaces and some weather, sports and entertainment apps that required a paid service to feed. The Palm PDA Watch was an impluse buy thanks to an Amazon fire sale. It’s poor battery life and tiny touchscreen were hard to use – it even came with a folding stylus that stowed in the watchband.

Here’s their Kickstarter video to give you an idea of what sold me on it and it’s potential:

I was immmediately surprised how light and thin the watch was. I was used to the other heavy and thick smartwatches in my collection. It feels solid and quality made too. It is a fingerprint magnet though, being glossy black.

As soon as I connected the Pebble to my iPhone (via bluetooth), I was prompted to update the firmware:
updating the pebble

Pebble Watch

It was a painless procedure that only took a minute or so.

There are a handful of custom watch faces currently available with more coming soon along with a creation tool for making your own.

Pebble Watch
Pebble Watch
Pebble Watch

The thing that most impressed me, almost immediately was how handy the vibrate notification feature is. I regularly miss calls and messages because my phone is in my pocket or on the table in silent mode. The watch has a very strong vibrate motor which feels stronger than my iPhone 5 and there is no mistaking you have an incoming call or message when it’s on your wrist.

It works great as a remote control for iTunes on my iPhone:
Pebble Watch

although I have had a few instances of accidental button presses when wearing a jacket or long sleeve shirt getting caught up in the watch but usually only when the music playback screen is displayed but perhaps I’ve been doing too much handtalking.

I also paired it with my Nexus 4 to see what the Android App experience was like. It’s fairly similar although there are a few extra ping options that let you simulate sending incoming calls, sms, and notifications beyond the iPhone’s only ping test.

Battery life has been great so far. It came with the ’24 hours left’ icon out of the box and I charged it up and am still on the initial charge, 6 days later with no icon yet. I wonder how long it will be before I lose the proprietary USB power cord used for charging. The Spot Watches all used inductive charging which was great and the Palm PDA watch used a standard mini-USB plug.

Overall I’m very happy with the watch and look forward to seeing what the Pebble team and developers do with it. Hopefully it won’t languish like the Spot Watch did.

Pebble is still fulfilling the Kickstarter rewards but are taking pre-orders on the next batch due later this year for $150.

UPDATE: After turning off/back on my notification settings (on my iPhone 5), I’m now getting Twitter and Facebook notifications on the Pebble

Twitter mentions on the Pebble

3 Comments

  1. Ross Craig says:

    Great review, not sure If I would pay the $159 for it though

  2. Phillip says:

    Wow, that is so cool John. I am anxiously awaiting mine! Great to see you and good luck at SXSW.

  3. Tyler Ingram says:

    I’d pay $150 for it. In fact, I’m hoping to get one sooner than later. Fairly geeky and they look good (to me). Would probably keep mine on Binary though but I do like the Fuzzy option haha

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