Pebble Smart Watch

So a while back I kickstartered the Pebble Smart Watch.  Sure it was a bit frustrating as the deadline came and went, but I did get periodic updates as to what was going on, so I had faith it would eventually come into my possession,  Sure enough, last month I got mine in the mail.  So I’ve had a while to play with it, and my impression so far has been more than positive.   While they are still making the various colored versions, you can pre-order a watch now, and have a hope of getting one in a bit from their website:

First off, for the TL;DR crowd.  Battery life is good.  Really like the features.  Instructions out of box could be more.  Some minorly stupid software interface choices.  Kind of big for a woman’s wrist, but fine on mine.  Really like it and use it daily.

Unboxing it.  Note lack of instructions.

Unboxing it. Note lack of instructions.

The downsides first.  It came with almost no instructions.  This meant that out of the box while it would sync with my phone for text messages and calls, it would not do so for Email.  I found the fix for that on their forums, but would have had a hard time finding it had I not been looking for it.  This was complicated by their poor choices in where they hid their menus in the Android App.  They had some menus that you get from a pull down at the top of the screen, and others you get to from using the phone’s menu button while in the app.  I would rather have seen them use one or the other, or possibly alleviated it all with some sort of written or pdf version of a users manual.

I like the size of the watch.  I have big hands and wrists.  The default watch band just barely fits on me, but I have ordered one of their longer straps, which has not yet arrived.  On the up side, it uses a standard watch band, so I can go and buy whatever one I want.  My wife, with her much smaller wrists, does not like it due to the size.  The looks of this watch are ok.  This is not a dress up watch, but a great replacement to a cheap casio or timex sort of watch.  I think of it as the old digital calculator watch all grown up and here from the future.  I will admit that between pagers and cell phones, I have not worn a watch with any regularity for the last 15 years, until now.

One of my favorite watch faces

One of my favorite watch faces

It has a proprietary charger, so DO NOT loose it.  I normally hate proprietary chargers.  I like that most of my devices can use the micro or mini USB chargers.  It is one thing I hate about my ipod, that I need a proprietary charger for it.  The watch, I can almost make an exception for.  I know why they did it.  The watch is water resistant.  Not a divers watch mind you, but feel free to take a shower, get rained on, or even hop in the pool.  To make it water proof, they had to modify their original plan for a micro usb port and they had 2 metal dots.  the charger has magnets in it that hold the charging plates to those dots and thus it charges.  Speaking of charging, it does not tell you that it is low on battery, nor does it tell you when you are charging the watch.  No indicators at all.  Pure guesswork on your part.  I am hoping that when the SDK comes out later this month (fingers crossed) that I can design my own watch face and add such a feature to it.

The good parts.  When you get it set up, it works.  The watch vibrates when I get a text, email, or phone call.  The screen gives me some basic information.  Who it is from, the subject, and a bit of the body of the message.  Not all of it, and I can scroll down to get some more, but there is a limit.  It also only gives you the last message that came through.  It seems to have no memory for saving multiple messages, so if you get a couple of emails and a text message all at once, it will only show you the last one to arrive.  For phone calls, it shows the phone number and a caller ID name and continues to vibrate until you answer it or stop your phone from ringing.

I love the backlight on this watch.  Sure backlight features have been around for decades.  Nothing new there, but I don’t have to hit a button to activate it.  I rotate my wrist back and forth a couple of times and the internal sensors turn on the backlight for me.  Brilliant.

Watch faces.  Right out of the gate I can choose a bunch of different watch faces.  In fact, they have added 3 new ones since I first got my watch.  Some of them are simple novelty faces.  Cute, but not useful for daily use.  Most are passable.  I have found 3 that I like and tend to cycle through.  I am waiting on the SDK so I can customize one watch face that incorporates everything I want to see on the screen at once.

The battery life in the watch is pretty good.  I recently went on a trip and didn’t charge the watch for nine days.  Now I was turning it off at night.  No need to waste the battery while I was sleeping.  Still, nine days before needing a recharge was acceptable to me.

The watch connects to your phone via bluetooth.  I have a Samsung Galaxy Note II phone, and my range is insane on this watch.  I can leave my phone on my desk and be outside my house and still getting alerts.  I find that with this watch I am leaving my phone on my desk more and more while at home, and when out I leave the ringer off on my phone.  If I get a call or an email, I get a discreet vibration on my wrist and can glance down to see if it is something to take right then or wait until a better time.  If you do go out of range from your phone, the watch automatically reconnects when you are back in range.

The screen is a smooth expanse of black.  So far I have not had any problems with scratches, despite daily use.  I have bought a skin for it from Skinomi: , the black carbon fiber version.  I will make a future post about installing it and how i like it.

One last thought on this watch.  I am not a huge music buff, but this phone can control your music right from the watch.  The controls are not huge, rewind, pause/play, and next song, but how much more do you really need?  I like that even though the ringer is turned off on my phone, the music still plays, and more than once I have used the music feature from my watch to turn on the music so I could find where I left my phone.

The last word on the Pebble Smart Watch?  It has drastically changed how I use my phone in my daily life, for the better.  I used to not wear a watch, and now I think I would be lost without this one.