First Impression: Pebble Watch

On the 23rd of November, 2014 – I have received the Pebble Watch (black housing). This watch was acquired after the update on my Nexus 5 to Android 5.0 which would prove valuable, and even more so with the Google Play Services Update (whenever that maybe to come).

There are a few reasons of acquiring the watch. First, and foremost is as a time piece. This watch is more accurate than the basic watch as the watch connects with your Bluetooth enabled smart phone, and acquires the time from that phone. As long as the phone has the accurate time, then the watch does as well. Next, I wanted a minor secondary screen so I am not required to pull out the phone to see if the notification was important. This not only includes SMS/MMS, and email, but also incoming calls. And third – with support having important information show on the watch – again, so I do not have to pull the phone out all of the time.

The Pebble Watch is available from most retailers for $100. There are cheaper Bluetooth Watches, but from my experience, they are utter failures forcing me to return them within a couple of days. And considering the basic watch is about $50, this is a reasonable price considering the capabilities.

The Good

The watch is for the most part a clean design. There are four buttons which are required since the watch doesn’t have a touch screen. The remote button on the top left is a light for when the room is dark. This leads me to assume there is an ambient light sensor.

The watch has an e-Ink display which may not be the most attractive, but is functional. This allows the watch to have a claimed 5-7 days battery, and since I received it just this afternoon, I hadn’t had the chance to put it to the test. The watch offers a variety of watch faces, although many of the ones I seen were either duplicates of other ones (copy-cats) or some cheesy image rather than anything useful. There are functional analog faces, although I chosen a 1/3-2/3 split where the top 1/3 is the time and date (digital display) while the bottom 2/3 displays the temperature, cloud conditions, and city referencing. This information is acquired through Accuweather.

While many smart watches are seen as bulky, I don’t find this one being too bulky. The buttons do give it depth that would probably otherwise not be needed, but with my typing and other activities – it doesn’t appear to get in the way. I do wear the watch on the left wrist.

The Bad
I noticed a hit on my LG/Google Nexus 5 with the Bluetooth running. While I do understand that Bluetooth demands more from the battery, this seems to have a bigger impact on the phone. In addition, the software for the phone (Android OS and Pebble Watch 2.1) seems to be buggy. There have been delays, and selecting items from within the app doesn’t always seem to want to respond. I am hoping this is because I am running Android 5.0, and Pebble just has to update their App to support Android 5.0. It will also seem as you have to have the app to work with the watch.

Next is the Pogo Style charging plug. Thankfully there is a 5-7 day battery on the watch because the charging plug is a pain the Ass. Twice while doing the initial charge, the plug separated from the phone which means this charging plug will likely have to be monitored or secured in a fashion that is just more than plugging in. This should not be the case. Pebble should have simply used micro-USB like everyone else in the world (except Apple). If I can buy a $25 cell phone, and have a standard USB charging, then my $100 watch should too.

The Ugly

At least from first impressions, the watch faces, and apps seem pretty much a gimmick. Maybe my expectations are different than what most people’s are, but this is my feeling. The watch also feels overly plastic which gives it a low quality feeling. And while there is a claim on some water resistance (can get a little wet, but not sustained), I wouldn’t wat to put it to the test with the exposed Pogo Plug contacts. Also, the function buttons aren’t intuitive which may solve itself over time.

Thoughts

This is not an Android Wear watch. There are also apps dedicated just for iOS users. If you want a smart watch that provides the basic needs of a watch, and a companion to your phone, this will be worth looking into. The e-Ink display means longer run time, but lower quality graphics, and images. Keep expectations reasonable, and buy it for its core role, and you should be pretty satisfied, especailly when the cheapest Android Wear watch is twice the cost, and only has a run-time of 1 day before needing charged – this might be a little more impressive.

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