I have hovered over the Buy button on the Pebble site more times than I’d like to admit. But I always stopped at the last minute. $150 is a lot of money for a watch when you haven’t worn one in years, even if it’s a “Smart” watch. The dreadful reviews of the RunKeeper App didn’t help, since that was going to be my main use case.
Then, just at the beginning of December, I got one as a gift and put it to use the following day with the self-same RunKeeper App in the Clonakilty Half Marathon. That App is indeed close to useless since you cannot start or stop runs with it – the main function most people would be looking for to avoid fiddling with armbands at the start/end of a run.
Disaster then struck as the screen broke and turned into a kaleidoscope of colours and starbursts. I spent much of the run prepping my blogpost on their terrible QA. Despite this I did like seeing/squinting-at my time/pace etc as I trundled slowly around rural West Cork. Somehow, after the race, the display fixed itself. That evening I discovered yet again that I’m a moron and found out that the LCD display does that when viewed through polarising lenses, like for example, sunglasses
Similar to most people, I immediately installed some silly watch-faces.
I particularly liked the Fair Weather one which uses an App on your phone as an internet proxy. That’s a really really smart use of a low-power device. I’m expecting to see many more uses of that proxy method over time.
In the end I settled on the Glance App which gives me a summary of texts, emails and calls along with the time and overall weather/temperature. I also use Music Boss to control what’s playing on the phone.
The killer feature for me is, surprisingly, the SMS/Phone/IM/etc Alerts. I had thought they were going to be useless since they just replicate what the phone is doing. Except, my phone spends most of its time in my pocket or on my desk, not in my hand. There is something very very cool about getting an alert on my wrist that my phone is ringing or someone is IMing me when my phone is at the far end of the house/office. I still can’t figure out how Bluetooth LE is getting such incredible range. Better than our house Wifi! I have the email alerts turned off for the obvious reason. It’s also much easier/safer to glance at the alerts whilst driving.
I still find it a bit annoying to have people constantly picking up their phone to check alerts/emails/etc when in conversations. In contrast, a quick glance at the Pebble is far less obnoxious and doesn’t interrupt the flow of conversation at all.
I’m getting 4-5 days on a charge and have already bought a second charging cable. The Pebble has died on me once over Christmas due to forgetting to charge it. Actually, they really need to add a mobile-phone-style charge level on the main screen to avoid this. The other concern I have is the hardness of the front bezel. I already have some marks around the edges after a few weeks. Gorilla Glass for V2.0?
A nice touch is the backlight which only comes on if it detects lots of motion. So a quick flick of the hand shows me the time at night. Almost reminiscent of the original red LED watches
I’d love to play around with the SDK but haven’t had a minute to do so. The fact that they have an RTOS on this baby sends me back to my early career of embedded development. The upcoming App Store should also be a big improvement to the current method of trawling the web for Apps etc.
The main reason I love it is because it just fits. I don’t mean physically, I mean into my “lifestyle”. It has zero learning curve and immediate tangible benefits. You can’t ask much more from a piece of technology. Now if only it was half the price!