I recently received a Pebble smartwatch in the mail yesterday after quite a long wait. The development time for this product took longer than everyone anticipated, and when I finally had the watch in my hands, I could only think, “well, it’s about time”. To be fair, I have never been involved the mass manufacture of a prototype product, so who am I to complain? In this past day of use, I can say that I am genuinely impressed by it, but still have some minor concerns.
The build quality overall is good. The buttons however, are somewhat annoying. Pressing them requires a bit more force than you would expect, making navigating the phones built-in options more challenging than it should be. There were most likely considerations to be taken to make the phone meet its waterproof specification, but even so, this makes them feel incredibly cheap. Another thing that makes this watch feel like something you got out of a cereal box is the rubber wristband. Fortunately, this can be replaced by a 22mm watchband that you may come across. The e-paper screen does deserve some praise for its clarity, and it does live up to this even under direct light.
The built-in software on the watch is very basic in its functionality. As of the current firmware, v1.9.0, you can set an alarm, select a few watchfaces, tweak settings, and control your music (which is incredibly handy). This functionality is expanded upon by the Pebble watchapp store; however, with it still being very early in this product’s market life, there are only a few apps around. I can only expect there to be many more in due time, especially given that the Pebble SDK has not yet been released to the general public.
Using the watch was enjoyable with my Android phone. Having texts, calls, email, and IMs sent to the watch got rid of the hassle of pulling out my phone to see what was going on. Music control was nice to use as well, and I’m sure there will be several scenarios in which it will come in handy. This is the first smartwatch I have owned, so the feeling was a bit of a novelty. I did not run into any glitches, battery problems, or any other problems for that matter. The watch also does a pretty good job at, well, being a watch.
While not perfect, Pebble is a piece of tech that is a great accessory for a smartphone. The functionality may be basic now, but with the data it can access from its paired phone, the possibilities for new software features are endless. Once the SDK is made available, it will be interesting to see the things people create.