CNET First Look
Pebble Watch hands-on: how smart is this smartwatch?Fun watchfaces and a lot of future potential surround the Pebble, but it's a limited device right now if you're lucky enough to get your hands on one.
-I'm Scott Stein and this is the Pebble Watch. Ever since last year where it was a big success on Kickstarter, this dream of a smart watch with apps has been kicking around and finally is being released to early adaptors except now we're surrounded by smart watches seemingly everywhere. There are a lot of these little devices that are all promising the dream of living this futuristic interconnected life with something wearable on your wrist or maybe later this year on your glasses, kind of cool except it all boils down to what does it do and what makes it worth the money that you're paying. The Pebble is $150 and if you look at the website you see what it's promising, it suggests a plethora of features, notifications, health apps and open SDK that allows a whole bunch of applications to be developed in the future and of course very cool retro watch faces. Some of those are available now, others aren't. What you get right off the bat that does work is you get the interchangeable watch faces which are cool but are a lot like, kind of like what we got with the iPad Nano if you ever wore that and slapped a wristband around it which I did and love doing. The Pebble Watch also connects via Bluetooth to get a bunch of notifications posted up to your watch turning it to a kind of like a pager, you get your SMS, your text, your iMessages, you get your phone calls coming in, you can screen them on the watch, if you've been dreaming of doing that what's the point, I mean why don't you just pull out your phone. Well, if you're busy, if you're in a loud noisy place, if you got a really important phone call at home it's kind of fun to be able to screen that call and make sure you don't miss it. There's also an additional feature of music playing, now what that means here is really showing you a display of what's being played on your app, on your phone and allows you to skip and pause the track, not change the volume. It does work on iOS with not just the music player but with Spotify, any radio app, anything that's Bluetooth hooked. Now as far as the health tracking stuff, well that is not here yet, when it does arrive I think a lot of people will be interested. The Pebble does have an accelerometer built in and it has a magnetometer so there's no reason why it can't be perfectly capable of doing that type of activity, there's just no app that takes advantage of it yet. There is a Pebble app that you can download on iOS or Android that is currently available and works pretty easily for pairing and for removing and adding apps which right now amount to watch faces. It's cool though how easily you can remove and add those apps via Bluetooth, it'll be interesting to see when more of those become available and if Pebble will be allowed to charge within that app or not. On Android, you get a few more third-party apps that are floating around out there that are interesting, there's a couple of random title chart apps and other things like that. The style here is definitely more Casio Geek Tech than the Retro Dick Tracy on a Martian watch that I reviewed before. At $150, the Pebble Watch is half the price of the Martian watch but it also has much more of a plasticky geek look which may not be for everybody. The monochrome ePaper display is not E Ink but it's a black and white LCD that's highly reflective and also has an anti-glare coating. You can see, it has a decent resolution for playing games like the built-in app, Snake, but don't expect it to be anything very advanced. Battery life is one of the limitations too and it's a pro-macro smart watches, 2 to 7 days I found it was a little more like 2, it does come with a USB charge cable that magnetically connects easily, just be careful not to lose it because there aren't any cables I know of that connect like that. Another really nice thing about the Pebble, it is 5 ATM resistant to water so they suggest that you can swim with it, you can take a shower with it, that's up to you if you're feeling that bold but you certainly could wear it while washing your hands. The Pebble SDK should provide a lot more life to this device, we're gonna have to see what apps come out for it and where it's gonna hold its place in the smart watch wearers, whether it will be something that people will remember or whether it's going to be a blow-up on the radar. I'm Scott Stein and that's a look at the Pebble Watch.