Pre-Review : Pebble

Another reward from one of my KickStarter contributions have recently arrived : The Pebble watch.

Pebble Box
Pebble Box

First off, I think wrist watches are awkward.  All that hardware to just tell time, I find to be overkill.  With smartphones being the powerhouses that they are, I ditched the watch as soon as I bought my first cell phone(okay, so it a dumbphone, but it could still tell time!) and I adapted to life without a wrist watch surprisingly fast.

 

The Pebble watch is a different beast – under it’s plain-looking watch body, it communicates with the popular smartphones of today(iOS and Android) via bluetooth and receives updates(SMS/MMS/Email/etc) and displays them on the watch face with optional vibration… AND it is able to display time and have alarm feature!

 

In many ways, pebble is reminiscent of a similar effort by SONY, the LiveView.  The problems with the LiveView, namely stability(connection with cellphone would frequently drop), inability to keep it’s own time(requires constant connection to keep time!), and limited battery life(color LCD) made LiveView more of a chore and burden to carry around. The Pebble rarely disconnects, decent battery life(lasts days, not hours), can function when disconnected from phone, and displays most notifications correctly(some e-mail accounts will not display e-mail summary) with room/promise for new functionality via published API(not yet released, IIRC).

 

I’ll give Pebble team the courtesy of not going into detail of their difficult manufacturing and poor communication to the KickStarter backers – there are a couple of things that bother me.

 

First problem is this weird streak(seems very visible when hit by sunlight – not artificial lights!) which I found hard to photograph… but it does provide a very suspicious marring of the LCD surface, as if the LCD is under pressure… or is of low quality.

Charging Side
Charging Side

The second issue I have is with the charging port/area.  It snaps on via 2 magnets, similar to the magsafe cords present with Apple MacBookPro/MacBookAir lines.  Except it is weak.  The magnets DO hold the socket in place… BUT it is very, very weak.  I find that sometimes a slight nudge will loosen the connection, and unless I place the socket precisely, it will not snap into place.  Still, it is successful… in a slight clumsy way.

 

This review will be followed up in the future once the API becomes available(Currently, only the proof-of-concept Watchface SDK is available)!

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