Pebble Review: Kickstarter's E-Paper Smartwatch

By Andrew Kameka on February 26, 2013, 2:47 AM

The Pebble smartwatch for iPhone and Android is a prime example of the bizarre times in which we live. In an era of people increasingly telling time by looking at the corner of their computer or their smartphone lock screens, Pebble wants to make the wristwatch everyone's preferred timepiece. But instead of pitting the watch and smartphone as competitors for one function, Pebble tries to go beyond the default use case for either device and do much more.

Sony, Microsoft, Motorola, among others have also tried to turn the watch into more than just a timepiece, but even their millions of dollars in R&D and years of manufacturing experience couldn't quite get the category right. Yet Pebble, a humble Kickstarter project embraced by nearly 70,000 backers, is the most buzzed-about smartwatch yet. Have those early believers been vindicated by the release of a phenomenal product or are they just another cautionary tale of what happens when reality doesn't meet the hype?

Read the complete review.

User Comments: 12

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ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It's a nice concept, but even 4+ days is too little. Even the advertised 7 days is too little IMO. Normal watches last years on a battery.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

I'm sure it was done to protect the delicate display, but having the e-ink recessed under the plastic defeats the awesome way e-ink changes the color of the surface. It also makes it harder to read from an angle. E-ink shouldn't have these issues.

And it needs some level of touch input. Why not just op for an iPod Nano 6th Gen with any wrist-band accessory?

newtheaterworks newtheaterworks said:

I see the Pebble as a pretty good V1 product. Future models could benefit from a metal/stainless steel case and solar battery recharging. I was a Kickstarter backer and looking forward to getting mine.

The SDK may have been available to some preferred partners. But, most of us are still waiting for a public release. Unique apps will be a key to the success of the Pebble.

p51d007 said:

I've worn a traditional watch for over 40 years. I can't see a lot of interest in new watches (unless they are "smart" .

The problem I have with watches today, is I need a cheap digital, and 3/4 of them have those stupid "plastic/rubber"

bands. I prefer a METAL band. I see these watches have those irritating plastic/rubber/resin bands too.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Watches getting to the point of being passed over for smart gear we all have today. Cell Phone has it's own Clock and Weather on it. NAVI/Media System in your SUV, CUV, Car, Truck etc.. Don't see wearing a watch again for now.

Guest said:

I think these Pebbles are a very cool idea but I'm going to hold off getting one until they get a bit "prettier".

On the battery life issue, yeah they "only" last 7 days max but this is V1. V2 could have solar powered option (like newtheaterworks said) or even a kinetic energy recovery unit like what charges my self-winding automatics, except hooked up to a generator instead of a coil spring.

I would assume the band can come off and you can put whatever 22 mm band on it you want. It's a simple process you or a jeweler can perform. I personally prefer leather bands and I would switch it if I got a watch I like that doesn't have a great band.

The band is replaceable. Under Key specs, "Replaceable 22mm watch bands".

All in all, I can't wait to see what interesting designs this segment starts to produce.

Guest said:

Help me understand why I would want a watch that I MUST have my phone with me to make it work??

Plus my smartphone already does all of these things pebble does.....?!?!?

ikesmasher said:

Watches getting to the point of being passed over for smart gear we all have today. Cell Phone has it's own Clock and Weather on it. NAVI/Media System in your SUV, CUV, Car, Truck etc.. Don't see wearing a watch again for now.

You know, I find it much easier to glance at the watch on my wrist rather than pull out my phone to check the time, especially in the middle of school/work.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

I still don't see the problem. Seiko, listen up. Use your Kinetic method, beef it up, add a screen. Bam, smartwatch that lasts 'forever'.

Kommentz Kommentz said:

Ya'll are talking about the wrong battery life. Turning on bluetooth for any extended period is a major battery drain on the phones, Android more so than iPhone.

This might appeal to kids but NOBODY over 34 years old is going to get a watch to tell them who just SMS'd them.

Unless this watch or Apple's in the future gets me laid via NFC or peer-to-peer apps, this is a product category is destined for failure.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I can see a lot of people thinking & saying "this is the coolest thing since ice cream" but I think I'll ignore this tech.

Guest said:

I'm over 34 and just got a Pebble.

Your life motto of "Generalizations are a real time-saver" is plain wrong. Just sayin'.

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