Smartwatches are still a relatively new technology, and we’re still trying to figure out if and how they fit into our lives. I wanted to get into the smartwatch game and so I Kickstarted the Pebble Time, the new cross-platform smartwatch from Pebble. I got mine back in June and have been wearing it all summer.
The Good Stuff
Wearing it. I like the casual, retro look of the Pebble Time. I like that it’s light, fairly thin, and unobtrusive. I like the curved back and how it fits around - not just on - my wrist. Overall, the Pebble Time looks good, feels good, and is enjoyable to wear.
Always on. The Apple Watch and many Android Wear smartwatches turn off the screen until you make a gesture or get a notification. The Pebble Time’s e-ink display might not be as vibrant as other smartwatch displays, but it’s always on so you can check the time without making a goofy flailing motion with your arm.
Battery life. If only more devices lasted a full week on a charge! I spent four days visiting friends in Rochester without charging my Pebble Time, and when I got back it was still at 40%. Compared to a real watch that’s nothing, but compared to other smartwatches out there it’s best in class.
Fitness tracking. I wore a Fitbit Flex for a few months over the winter, until it started having Bluetooth connectivity issues. I liked using the basic activity and sleep tracking, and the Pebble Time has all the same technology baked right in. The Pebble Time works with many fitness tracking apps, so you can choose whichever one you prefer (I personally use Misfit).
Customizable. In addition to apps Pebble has a huge selection of watchfaces available, made primarily by other developers (I’m a big fan of the Kiezel collection). The watch strap can also be swapped out for just about any 22mm band (though I have yet to do so). Add in the different body colors, and the Pebble Time is probably the most customizable smartwatch out there.
The “Meh” Stuff
Brushed metal bezel. The border around the watch’s display is a brushed metal that looks really nice… when you first get the watch. Wearing the watch daily - presumably as intended - has resulted in several scratches around the bezel. Even if I’m the only one who notices the blemishes, I wish it was a bit more resilient.
The “timeline.” The Pebble Time’s new software lets you view past and future events and notifications through the timeline, accessible from the up and down buttons on the right side of the watch. Perhaps I didn’t have enough timeline-friendly apps (pretty much just Weather and Calendar), but I don’t find myself using it very much.
The apps. I’ve been using my Pebble Time with an iPhone, which means I get less funcitonality from the get go: less control over notificaitons, no voice input (yet), etc. Regardless, though there are many apps available, I have found very few that are useful on a regular basis. For the most part I stick to the built-in weather, calendar, and music support, supplemented with a timer/stopwatch app and Misfit for fitness tracking.
So, Do You Like It?
As a digital watch, I really like the Pebble Time. It has a few extra features and a number of apps that make it “smart,” but it doesn’t quite live up to expectations or match the functionality of other smartwatches out there. Maybe after another generation, or after another year to let the ecosystem grow, I’ll change my mind. For the moment, if all you’re looking for is a really nice digital watch (that does just a bit more), then the Pebble Time is for you.
Need help figuring out what kind of smartwatch to get? The Verge wrote a detailed comparison of the Apple Watch, Android Wear devices, and the Pebble Time a few months ago that might help you decide.
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