The Pebble watch…9 months later.

icon_largeThe Pebble Watch, an in depth look 9 months later.

So maybe you just got a pebble on black Friday, or you’re thinking of one for you or boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse for the holidays – there’s no shortage of reviews, but I thought I’d chime in with my experience and advice after nearly 9 months of real-world use as an original Kickstarter backer of the project.

First of all, if you’re not sure what it is or how it’s different let’s get one thing straight:

It’s not smart, it’s simple.

I work in an environment where I can’t check my phone, so the idea that I can subtly glance at my wrist and read a full email or a text is huge for me.  I’ve never been drawn to ‘smart’ watches because I don’t need a phone on my wrist – I have one in my pocket.

What does it do?

Pebble very simply pushes anything that would appear on your lockscreen to your wrist via Bluetooth, accompanied by a subtle vibration.  There’s also some basic two-way control – accept/decline a call, and music controls  (great while jogging or driving).

Photo 12-3-2013, 12 28 02 PM

The mild bluetooth field will keep your wrist hair voluminous

  • TIP: There’s also a gyro for flick/tap gestures and a light – I turned off the flick to activate light feature to save battery, and just set the light to automatic (notifications are lit based on ambient light)

Using the Pebble has substantially cut down my need to ‘check my phone’ – quite honestly my phone stays in my pocket 90% of the day.  When I do need to actually reply (which it turns out is not very often), I just use my phone or hop on a computer.

At home I just set my phone on the usual crap-collection spot, and I’ll get coverage notifications anywhere in the 2-storey house

ID-100122416

Guaranteed 100% reduction in getting yelled-at for checking email at dinner

What does it look like?

The screen is black and white e-paper.  The animations appear smooth, black-and-white watch faces look crisp, but less so for actual pictures unless they’re high contrast or 2-color to begin with (i.e. think sega genesis resolution pictures ).   And no, there is no ‘refresh’ or ghosting like you would find on a Kindle or Kobo.

bill murray

A true gentleman’s timepiece

  • TIP: The screen size is relatively small leaving a wide plastic bezel around it – because of this I choose the black model – being e-paper the black appears true (vs a backlit LCD screen) and blends nicely into the bezel leaving watch faces look more like they’re floating rather than framed

Photo 12-3-2013, 11 47 36 AMthe digittmm watchface

The housing itself is waterproof and made of plastic, including the screen cover – and I’ve found it’s very prone to small nicks and scratches.  That being said, with regular use on my wrist there’s been no major gouges, and the small ones do seem to fade out enough that I don’t really notice.

What about, y’know, the actual watch part?

One of the coolest things is that it is a totally open platform, meaning there’s a growing library of user designed watch faces to choose from. I constantly change them as new ones come out (you can keep around 8 on the watch at any given time) and you can browse them at http://mypebblefaces.com/.

  • TIP: I tend to hide generated content on mypebblefaces.com because I find the actual custom designed ones tend to look best

library

Hundreds of custom watchfaces keep things fresh

  • TIP: I tend to use watchfaces that animate on transitions, but don’t run a constant animation in order to save battery
  • BONUS TIP: I download the .pbw watchface into a dropbox folder folder along with a screenshot, then just browse/open the file on my phone.  This will install it right to the watch and lets me keep a visual library of the faces I like.

Much like the watchfaces, there is also an open app system with some rudimentary but creative apps coming through.  Now with the 2.0 release of the Pebble SDK, which allows you access to the accelerometer, javascript and some other system level functions, some really neat apps are on the horizon with some major partnersips like Yelp, GoPro and iControl (home automation).

gopro

What about battery life?

The Pebble is battery powered and includes a mag-safe like charger.  In terms of real world usage I consistently get the advertised 7 days – keep this in mind when you’re looking at other smart watches, this is a watch first and foremost and you don’t want to have to charge it daily.

From the phone end, I don’t notice a hit on my phone battery.  Recently pebble updated to use the Bluetooth Low Energy profile to push their notifications for iPhone (which I use) – I haven’t used it long enough to notice much difference, but with regular notifications, music controls you can realistically expect about a week between charges.

  • TIP: I recommend setting your gmail to notify your ‘primary’ emails only (i.e. not push anything in the promotions category) this is found in your gmail app settings and makes a huge difference in terms of how often your wrist jiggles.

What would I like to see?

Here are some things I’d love to see as Pebble continues to develop:

  1. Auto-off/sleep-mode based on time-of-day to conserve battery throughout the night
  2. A stronger quartz watch-style screen covering
  3. Different materials for the housing (i.e. maybe a premium aluminum enclosure or something)

Otherwise the Pebble does what it does with style and simplicity, and has become an absolute necessity in my life.  It has freed me from a problem I didn’t realize I had – the classic conditioning of having to constantly check my phone whenever I feel a buzz.  Make sure to check out http://getpebble.com/ for your own Pebble or for a fantastic Christmas present!

Tips!

If you have any of your own tips, questions or comments please post them in the comments below!

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4 responses to “The Pebble watch…9 months later.

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  3. Pingback: Pebble: the 16 Million Dollar Smart Watch @Pebble | Refined Geekery·

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