GADGET WATCH: Pebble Watch

The Pebble Watch hit the jackpot last year when its founders put the humble smartwatch on Kickstarter. Soon the funding poured in well past its $100,000 goal – in two hours, no less – and topped a massive $10 million.

Now the watch has started shipping for a lucky few who backed the company on Kickstarter, and the reviews have started coming in. So is the watch as good as it looks? And more importantly, does it actually work?

Hardware and features

The watch features an E-Paper screen, measuring 1.26 inches and 144×168 pixels. The screen itself has a black and white LCD display, with a backlight, along with a vibrating motor, a magnetometer, ambient light sensors and an accelerometer.

The watch connects to Android or iOS devices using Bluetooth 2.1, but has support for Bluetooth 4.0. Apps come pre-installed, while an SDK will be made available soon for users to make their own apps.

What’s the consensus?

The tech market has been waiting for a good smartwatch for a while, with most on the market too expensive or simply too hard to use. But reviewers have noted the Pebble Watch is much more accessible.

Engadget wrote the 22mm rubber strap fit well, noting the watch felt “very comfortable” on the wrist. It also said the device feels solid enough for regular use, and that given it’s waterproof, can be worn in the shower as well.

“The secret to Pebble’s week-long battery life and daylight readability is a technology similar to what’s penetrated the lives of bookworms young and old: an e-paper display.”

Although the watch lacks colour, it makes up for that in battery life – which can last for a week.

Over at The Verge, the publication took the watch for a spin using its two different connection types – iOS and Android – and found two different conclusions for either platform.

The Verge found the watch when paired with iOS much like a placeholder, although had some trouble getting apps to send notifications to the watch.

“But be warned: if the Bluetooth connection disconnects for any reason, you’ll have to re-re-select all your notifications all over again. It’s irritating, but it’s clearly not Pebble’s fault; Apple just hasn’t built the right management tools into iOS yet.”

However, it did say that when you get the iPhone and watch paired, the two work very well together.

On Android, The Verge noted there was some disconnect in which apps were supported by Pebble, when other popular apps weren’t. “In many ways the Pebble experience on Android is better than the iPhone today, but it feels a little hackier,” it said.

However, it also said the different watch faces were interesting to choose from, and said the actual experience of using the watch day to day was “great”.

“Being able to see who’s texting, emailing, or calling you without looking at your phone changes the entire dynamic of being connected,” it said.

“The downside is that it’s harder to simply ignore your phone and let messages stack up while you focus on something else; having the Pebble buzz your wrist for every email and text means you’re hyper-aware of your inbox at all times.”

As a result, it said filters and priority settings would help the user experience.

Engadget said the music playback was a nice feature, but did note the lack of volume control. It also said the device’s functionality was quite limited given its short life so far.

The Verge had a similar complaint, noting the promises of apps for the software are still non-existent. These functions are all set to appear sometime in the future.

However, it did say that “it’s so good at what it does … it’s easy to imagine all [the] other things it might do in the future”.

Who’s it for?

The Pebble Watch is looking good. It’s delivered on what has been promised so far – and those features work well enough that reviewers are anticipating what’s to come.

Of course, that means you may end up wanting to wait for more features later on. With a good number of improvements coming to the Pebble Watch this year, you may want to wait and see how good this watch gets before handing over your cash.

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