Inspect The Tech: Pebble Time

(Photo by Brad Leuchte)
In its third offering, Pebble has introduced some major changes to its smartwatch. With a whole new design, a new e-color display and a new user interface, is the Pebble Time worth its $200 asking price? Let’s find out.

 

Hardware

The Pebble Time has a plastic body, a glass display and is water resistant for up to 30 meters, according to Pebble’s website. The watch also comes with a replaceable 22mm silicon strap. In addition, the Pebble’s curved base and lightweight make this watch feel great on the wrist.

The Pebble Time is set up with four buttons. The user maneuvers the interface with these buttons rather than a touch screen. Overall, the buttons are a little stiff, but they get the job done.

The display has what Pebble calls an “always on color e-paper display with an LED backlight.” Although not the nicest screen, it’s great to view in sunlight, unlike most smartwatches out today.

Battery life is great, lasting far longer than most of its competitors – a whopping four to five days on a single charge.  With last year’s LG G watch, I found myself having to charge it every night or that next afternoon.

The Pebble Time may look toy-like but in my opinion that’s part of its charm.  It doesn’t need a high-resolution display or a super slick design to be a great smartwatch, as long as it has great battery life, is comfortable on the wrist and offers useful timesaving and innovative features, I’m sold. For the most part, the Pebble Time executes this well.

Software

This year, not only did Pebble introduce a new display type, it also created a brand new software experience, called “Timeline.” Essentially, Pebble has created a vertical style interface in which you can view past, present and future events with just a few button presses. Press the upper button on the watch and the screen brings you to a number of events you have missed (i.e., missed calls, previous meetings, etc). Press the lower one, and you see upcoming events (i.e., future meetings and calendar events).

Some third-party developers have also integrated their apps to the Timeline, and more are expected to come. From using the watch, however, most third-party apps add little to no value.

I find the Pebble Time to be a very useful notification device that complements my phone, where I can see important notifications even when I’m far away or not able to reach it.

However, there are some problems with Pebble’s software. Unlike my Android Wear watch, where I could prompt a call, text, or Google search from my watch face, the Pebble Time can’t do any of those things. Initially, I found myself missing some of Android Wear’s more comprehensive features and several months later I can’t say my thoughts have changed. Although, the Pebble App Store claims to have many great apps, most of them aren’t very good.

Conclusion

I really enjoy wearing the Pebble Time. Yes, there could be better third-party apps, and yes, I wish I could prompt a text from my watch face, but it’s a darn nice watch for getting notifications and telling the time.  Unfortunately, I still think it may be a bit too expensive for what it is.

That being said, many smartwatches these days are priced even higher.  So in short, it is the Pebble Time’s unique hardware set that really makes this watch great to wear on a regular basis. Just don’t expect it to be the most feature-rich smartwatch around.

Disclaimer

I used the Pebble Time since July 19 with an Android phone. Although it is multiplatform, the watch is more limited on iOS because the user cannot verbally respond to texts and emails using the device.

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