back to article Neat but narky at times: Pebble Time colour e-paper watch

I love what Eric Migovsky has done with the Pebble by creating an antidote to modern smartwatches. The two generations of Pebble so far have been useful, durable and practical – qualities which elude the over-specced and costly Apple and Android kit. Pebble Time Pebble Time: Fit for purpose With its early mover advantage, …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't see the point in weara... Oh, sorry. Wrong brand.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      I had original Pebble which was great. I found checking notifications very useful I wasn't so keen on the watch styling, but it did an effective job.

      I got the Pebble Time through Kickstarter early bird, so it was £109, not £179.

      The display is poor in some indoor conditions, but the best colour smartwatch display in sunlight, only bettered by the original Pebble mono display.

      All I need is to read notifications, for a number of reasons it's better in my circumstances than getting the phone out. So, I would love to remove the silly Looney Tunes animations, enlarge the font again. I don't need the Timeline thing, and I don't need colour. Basically the Pebble 1 was better for me, but I wear the Time now because it is a much better aesthetic design. If I could have Pebble 1 inside this housing then I would.

      There are many things that other people do that I don't see the point of. Not a problem, it's not all about me.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        And by coincidence, Pebble have released today a new firmware update that allows backlight timing and font size control.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That whooshing sound you heard as you read the above was the joke passing you by...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still of dubious value?

    I like the basic idea, but I struggle to see what the Pebble Time does that makes it worth shelling out £180 for - even if that is a fraction of what Apple et al ask for their nearest equivalents. It's a naff watch that still won't last a week, and which can run some fairly basic apps with graphics reminiscent of a Sinclair Spectrum. If it was £50 then maybe it would be value for money, but not (IMO) at more than three times that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still of dubious value?

      I am always amazed how active people have become, so much so that they actually need a visual/audible/tactile reminder for the 2 tasks that they might have to perform each month.

      Marketing bods love this shit....it's like feeding the pigs just before you munch into a bacon sarnie...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still of dubious value?

      Indeed. And then you look at the Android watches and the Apple watch, and you think "hang on, these are £100 more, have much better processors, screens and metal cases, and if I have to charge it once a day then who cares because I don't wear a watch in bed anyway..."

    3. Reallydo Wannaknow

      Re: Still of dubious value?

      Friend of mine got one of the older models; I wondered about its use, but for him, it's ideal. He works at the ball stadium, and is the world's hugest fan, so for him, getting instant game & score updates on the fly was a big win (not to mention that stadium policy prohibits checking your phone to get the scores). It also acts as a "fit-bit" type device, keeping track of his daily mileage.

      Not for everyone, mind (and not for me) -- but for him, a near-perfect solution.

    4. Yugguy

      Re: Still of dubious value?

      Agreed. I like that it has a decent charge and is waterproof. But it needs to be a third of the price or I'm not interested.

      And it looks SO dull.

      They all do tbh, they all look a bit 80s Casio calculator watch to me.

      My Sieko Kinetic was less than a 100 quid, never needs charging, is waterproof enough for shallow dives up to 20m - I know, I've done it. And it also looks quite nice on my wrist.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Still of dubious value?

        "My Sieko Kinetic"

        You make a point that they've all missed so far.

        There's no reason why an electronic watch can't be a kinetic type. It's already been done after all.

        That and having Qi charging, so no need to hook it up to anything or worry about connection reliability

    5. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Still of dubious value?

      £180 is still quite a lot... well outside the casual gadget range, and outside (I assume) the range of what most people spend on watches. I would've thought keeping the price under £100 is the sweet-spot for this type of thing?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will this year be the year of Lin... Oh, sorry. Wrong thread.

  4. BenWood

    Loving the simplicity versus rivals

    An interesting review and I can't argue with some of the points made - but I have to say that I've been using Pebble Time for a couple of weeks and have found it a refreshing change from the bulker, more complex Android Wear alternatives or Apple Watch for that matter.

    The design has illicited positive comments from people I have shown it too - I accept its still a bit geeky but its a lot better and more compact that other devices I have used.

    I have found the case has already picked up a few scratches but thankfully the screen is OK so far - but I fear that won't continue indefinitely.

    I accept Andrew's comments about the colour screen, but I've actually found it incredibly readable - but more importantly extremely "glanceable" - to me that is the most important thing on a smartwatch.

    At £180 it is still a relatively expensive option, but a fraction of the price of Apple Watch of course. I wonder how low the price can go over time (excuse the pun!).

    Ben W

    1. D@v3

      Re: Loving the simplicity versus rivals

      I've had my PebbleTime since mid June, and generally, I'm very happy with it. Having owned and used (for a reasonable amount of time) both the original Pebble and Steel, I feel I have a good basis for comparison.

      With the screen, I feel that it is still glanceable, which for a watch, is important. The thing I have noticed is that because it is a colour screen, I am inclined to use more intricate watch faces, which in turn does make it slightly more difficult to see the time, at a glance.

      Just this morning, i have received an OTA firmware update, which has addressed at least one of my complaints (they had removed the 'dismiss all' function for notifications, this is now back) and also at least one from from the review (you can now change font size) you can also change the intensity and duration of the backlight, yes, this will (may) impact battery life.

      Having had mine for a month, I haven't noticed any dust build up, or scratches. I have not been overly 'precious' with it.

      Battery life seems to be about the same, will vary depending on how many notifications you get, what kind of watch face you use and many other things, I currently have "30%" and will probably charge it on Sunday morning before I go out. One improvement with the power management I have noticed is that when the battery reaches "0%" the watch will automatically switch into low power mode, a very basic watch face, no notifications, and no access to the menus, I have yet to work out just how long it will stay at "0%" but it is several hours (I always get bored of waiting for it cut out and charge it).

      I have not seen the sloth, on my calendar, if I have no events, I always have the approximate weather and the sunrise / set times.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love how the reviewer openly admits that Pebble "failed to point out the obvious" when it comes to installing the correct Pebble Time app. If it was so obvious, then why would they need to point it out? While I agree that it would be helpful to have some sort of notification in the previous app (and maybe even good for some basic marketing), I am curious whether or not any instructional material within the packaging pointed this fact out.

    Also, all of the marketing material (Kickstarter and their website, reddit, and twitter pages) say that both the Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel have Gorilla Glass screens. They do not say which version or generation of Gorilla Glass, but I am curious if at the last minute they decided to change the display material. Can you please inform on where this information is from? Thank you!

    1. Chorotega

      The quick start guide included with the Pebble Time includes step one: "visit getpebble.com/app from your smartphone and download the "pebble" app"

      The reviewer is obviously allergic to set up guides.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RTFM

        Yes because evey geek always RTFM. Isn't it part of our jobs to take reasonable guestimates when it comes to using software. I have the pebble app I have a pebble watch, one can reasonably assume that the two will talk to eachother. Suddenly a curve ball is thrown where each the developers decide to make a totally new app instead of applying an update to the current software. We are in 2015, not 1995.

        It also wouldn't have hurt to have the "old" pebble application, to notice you are connecting to the new device and say "Hey, you have a new pebble. Unfortinutally we can't make our old app work with this new hardware, click here to download the new app"

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        So if the Pebble Time quickstart guide tells you to download the Pebble app, as you say, then it's not going to work...

      3. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Yep, which takes you to two Pebble apps.

        The commentard is clearly allergic to reading.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          And this hacktard is clearly averse to writing decent copy.

  6. Andy the ex-Brit

    I see the usefulness, but not at full price

    I bought an original Pebble (used, $60 on Amazon.) My main use was so I could quickly see who was calling or texting me whilst I bicycled, then I could stop and respond if needed. The phone stays put away in a bag. This worked really well for me.

    Just this week, the screen died after about four months of my use. Even at $60 that's an expensive "rental" for what it was. Hopefully they've got the quality issues worked out. Unfortunately I have no warranty.

    At $200, the new one is not something I'll look at. I paid less for my phone. I'm considering instead a used Pebble Steel for ~$100. If that doesn't last a couple of years, I'm done with them.

    1. D@v3

      Re: I see the usefulness, but not at full price

      The screen on my first gen pebble (from Kickstarter) failed after about 6 months, it was 'tearing', some of the image was being left behind on transitions, so you would end up with parts of several 'pages' being shown at the same time.

      I filed a support call with Pebble, and a new watch arrived 6 weeks later. Have had no problems with that one since, that was what seems like a long time ago, easily a year, maybe even two.

      I realise that you don't have that option, but it does seem to be a problem with some of the earlier builds. (I got a pebble Steel, no problems with that.)

    2. Gary Bickford

      Re: I see the usefulness, but not at full price

      Hey, you might as well send Pebble an email at least. Maybe they'll do something about your screen.

    3. Andy the ex-Brit

      Re: I see the usefulness, but not at full price

      Why the downvotes?

    4. Major N

      Re: I see the usefulness, but not at full price

      bought one second hand, the screen started tearing pretty much immediately. Contacted Pebble support, and after giving them the serial no, and pictures to prove I had that pebble, they sent me out a new one. Didn't even ask for the old one back. It took 6 weeks to arrive, but their customer service is great - they obviously decided that the financial hit for replacing them was worth more, as positive PR and increased consumer loyalty - than the negative press that would be generated by ignoring it.

      Contact them - i'd be very surprised if you got nothing.

  7. tin 2

    "creating an antidote to modern smartwatches"

    surely

    Creating modern smartwatches?

  8. therebel

    I'm looking forward to the Vector Smart Watch coming out in September. 30 day battery life.

    They seem to be a bit reluctant at relating images of what notifications etc look like though (I have asked). Ask the images I've seen just site the time, bizarre I know for a watch!

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Thanks for the heads up on that one. Lovely watch, but what a bloody annoying website.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "bloody annoying"

        ... is something of an understatement. I lasted about 10sec before muttering "oh, ffs" and closing the tab.

        Clearly I'm not the target market :-)

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      Battery life?

      "I'm looking forward to the Vector Smart Watch coming out in September. 30 day battery life."

      I used to have a watch with a 30 day battery life too. It was a Timex. I had to press a button to make the 7 segment LED display light up and show the time. 40 years ago :-)

      1. Mutton Jeff

        Re: Battery life?

        Cool story grandad, but as the bard said, "the times are a-changin"

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Battery life?

          "the times they are a-changin"

          Bloody ignorant kids today!

      2. Uffish

        Re: Battery life?

        I have an entirely mechanical, self winding, watch which does everything I want in a watch. Borg-like high-tech strap-ons are too expensive / too limited for the moment.

  9. tawster

    Leveraging Android Wear

    In the article you expressed surprise that it leverages Android Wear for some things and speculated that Google may view Pebble as a fallback technology.

    No, the reason that Pebble leverages this API is because that API is open to be leveraged. Apple is not open and free about leveraging their proprietary APIs. Google views things differently and lots of programs that are not Android Wear devices, leverage the Android Wear APIs.

    In the end, Google is just a friendlier and more platform for 3rd parties.

  10. Baudwalk

    How does the display compare to old school transflective LCD as seen on Garmin's Vivoactive?

  11. Alex Walsh

    Had an original Pebble since Christmas and still love it. All I use it for is notifications (email, twitter and FB) but it saves getting my phone out of my pocket every time I get a ping. Still get 5+ days from the battery. Only issue is it's not as pretty as the Steel but since it cost a fraction of the price, I shouldn't complain.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ...it saves getting my phone out of my pocket every time I get a ping...

      @Alex Walsh: Just trying to understand: Do you really need to check each incoming notification as soon as it arrives? What are you looking at on Twitter or Facebook that needs to be treated as a NMI?

      Does tweeting you repeatedly result in a denial of service?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    It's a bit Tamagotchi isn't it?

    The first thing I thought of when I saw the Pebble Time was they've made Tamagotchi 2.0 with a strap; it's the cutesy icons and animations that do it for me, and not in a good way. The second thing I thought was that unless Pebble come up with something more adult, prestigious and better built, they're not going to be around in 2 years time.

    I couldn't wear one of these things on my wrist and feel good about it.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: It's a bit Tamagotchi isn't it?

      "it's the cutesy icons and animations that do it for me, and not in a good way."

      Yeah, when I read/saw that my first thought was are they trying to be Apple? In this day and age, customisable or pre-installed/downloadable themes really ought to be the default, not a hacker option. There should never be a need to have only the GUI designers choice, even for system events.

      Maybe you want something a bit more mature while at work, a bit more formal for an evening out and a bit more "fun" while playing FrisbeeTM in the park with the dog. Just changing the watch face is a bit limited really considering the compute power available,

  13. Zog The Undeniable

    Water resistance

    Is that a practical 90m water resistance or the usual static test? If so,on the usual scale 50m is good enough for doing the washing-up and surface swimming and 100m is good enough for surface swimming (including snorkelling). You have to go to 200m resistance if you want to dive underwater at all, including throwing yourself off the high board at the swimming pool.

    Still don't see the point of a smartwatch, as it's too small for the screen to be useful for messaging or maps and it's silly for telling the time compared to a normal watch, a bit like buying a car just so you can play CDs on the stereo. I kind of saw the point of Google Glass, so I'm not totally against wearable technology. A sports goggle version of Google Glass with an HD cam would kill off GoPro's market and also ensure you didn't get lost on your bike ride or Nordic ski trek...

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Water resistance

      "A sports goggle version of Google Glass with an HD cam would kill off GoPro's market and also ensure you didn't get lost on your bike ride or Nordic ski trek..."

      Seriously? You think Go-Pros are only used attached to people's heads?

      And the Smartwatch screens are not too small to be useful.

  14. captain veg

    Sloth

    "No events: Looks like a sloth, just hanging around, waiting for something to happen"

    To me it looks like a tasteless cartoon of airliners crashing into the twin towers.

    -A.

  15. Velv Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "Why would anyone want...", "I don't see the point of...", "that's a lot of money for..."

    Who would ever want a phone you could take with you, you've got a phone in your house and your work, and there's pay phones if you need to make an urgent call. 25 years on and almost everyone has not only a mobile phone but a mobile computer in their pocket. "Why would anyone want a computer in their home" (Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977)

    1. theOtherJT

      Yeah, but see, he thought "Why would any one want a computer, they don't do anything normal people would ever do."

      I'm looking at this thing and thinking "Why would I want this, it only does a small subset of things that I can _already_ do, and it does them less well than the thing I already use to do them."

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "Why would I want this, it only does a small subset of things that I can _already_ do, and it does them less well than the thing I already use to do them."

        Except it's already visible and you don't have top take it out of your pocket to squint at it.

        I have one of the early sony smartwatches. They're useful for looking at and dismissing notifications but that one was too bulky/shortlived/fargile for serious long-term usage.

  16. Deltics

    Confused: Dust can get in, but water can't ?

    How does that work ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Confused: Dust can get in, but water can't ?

      Simple: water is bigger than dust. Just look at a puddle, or glass of water, or the sea. Then look at dust. See what I mean?

    2. Pookietoo

      Re: Confused: Dust can get in, but water can't ?

      There's a groove that dust can collect in - not a hole into the insides, just a gap between the screen and the bezel.

  17. SimonC

    Watch gets a lot of hate, but the pebble is amazing. I can't wait until I get my pebble time steel.

    I enjoy receiving notifications on my watch, instead of having to pull my phone out and start mashing buttons to see them. Quick flick of the wrist and I can see if it's something I need to look at in more detail like a text or if it's just a generic facebook thing. Incredibly useful at work where you're frowned upon for being on your phone all the time.

    Mostly though I use it for controlling my music. Walking along, cycling, or even sitting at my desk at work, I can skip tracks and adjust volume etc via 1 press of my watch (when the app is open). So amazingly convenient.

    As for people complaining about the price, saying it's too expensive, there is no cheaper version, and it's not bad really. Your average fashion piece will set you back 50-100 quid anyway without all the features.

    And if the watch doesn't do something you want, stop complaining. Do you go onto amazon and review their cordless drills by saying 'this drill is way too expensive I don't even need a cordless drill, my corded drill can do everything I need, so this is overpriced and a joke'?

    So why come on here and do it with the watch! If you don't give a crap about facebook and sms and email notifications, the product ain't for you so why criticize it. Fact of the matter is most people are super-connected to the internet and each other, we spend all day instant messaging, texting, facebooking, e-mailing etc. and it's become an intrinsic part of our lives. The watch enhances this connectivity and for that we praise it and get a lot of use out of it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      we spend all day instant messaging, texting, facebooking, e-mailing etc. and it's become an intrinsic part of our lives

      Er... no, we don't and no it hasn't. Only true for 25-32 yo wannabe baristas.

    2. captain veg

      cycling

      > Mostly though I use it for controlling my music [...] cycling

      Cycling while listening to music. On headphones? On public roads? No offence, but that makes you an utter knob.

      -A.

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