CNET First Look
Pebble Watch, revisited: a new app store and apps make it even betterPebble's original watch costs a hundred dollars less than the Pebble Steel, but under the hood it's very much the same -- you're just trading metal and glass for plastic. Maybe that makes it the best value in smartwatches. We take a second look.
Hi. I'm Scott Stein and this is the Pebble Watch-- yes, the original Pebble Watch. Now, a lot of smart watches have come and gone, you've seen the Samsung Galaxy Gear, the Qualcomm Toq, so many other weird and semi half-baked smart watches, and then there is the original $149 Pebble Watch, which is still available on sale. Why am I talking about it again? Because, there is a brand new Pebble app store that launched that enables access to all of the various apps that were hard to find otherwise, watch faces, and new types of funky apps, ones like Yelp, Foursquare, ESPN, new types of weather apps, ways of controlling smart home things like NEST or the Philips Hue lighting system, GoPro cameras, the list goes on and on and on. And these can be loaded on to the original Pebble with a new software update. Now there is also the Pebble Steel, which I'm wearing here, which is Pebble's new watch, but the $249 new watch really underneath is the same watch as the original Pebble. So, what you're paying $100 for here is the metal and glass, which is admittedly pretty fantastic, or you go with the original plastic design here, which kinda feels like the Swatch of smart watches. It's comfortable. It's also still waterproof. Has the backlighting. They both have a limited 8 apps being loaded on to them, same black and white screen. So, to some people you say, "Hey, I save $100. That's a great deal." Others will look at this and think, "Maybe it looks a little cheaper. I'd rather go with a nicer, fancier watch design." And that's the decision you're gonna have to make. Note that both of these have similar battery life, similar performance, and connect with the same number of iOS and Android devices, and use that app store in the same way. So they're interchangeable. And that's the good news, makes it a little bit of a no-brainer deciding. Naives have to figure out do you want a Pebble. What does the Pebble do again? Well, before, it acted as a kind of a pager on your wrist so you could get notifications, now that's been made even better between iOS and Android, so for Twitter, Facebook, SMS, incoming phone calls, you name it, if it appears on the front page of your phone, then it can pop up on this screen. And I think that's what it does best. Now, there are also a number of interactive apps, the new version of Pebble's software 2.0 enabled apps, enables you to do a whole bunch of new interactive stuff, play better games, interact with things like Yelp, or you can read reviews and also Ping to get your location, use the internal accelerometer in gyroscope to shake, to do various things, but all of this is still evolution. And the more you play with those apps, the more you may think, "Wait a second. Why am I not just using my phone?" So, I think, the Pinging notifications, for me, are still the best reason. Keep in mind that the Pebble and Pebble Steel do not have touch screens. They don't have color screens, and they don't have any microphone or speakers on them or any cameras, needless to say. So, they may feel a little down tech compared to some of the watches like the Samsung Galaxy Gear. But the total package of what this offers and the fact that it's waterproof makes it the best smart watch that's out there even now, although it is really more like a polished version of what we expected the first time. So the Pebble Watch still around, also it has interchangeable wrist bands, but I think I would still prefer the Pebble Steel. Really, it's a matter of aesthetics, thankfully. I'm Scott Stein, and that's a look again at the Pebble Watch one more time with an app store.