Several things will always be true of technology. Firstly that there is never a good time to buy. Secondly there will always be brands and chosing one over another will have pros and cons. So chosing what to buy in technology if you invest time and energy in researching your options can be a lot more confusing than just wandering into your local electronic store and asking some pretty clueless guy/girl what is the best on offer and have them push you whatever their sales managers have told them to shift this week. Don’t even think of reading comments sections to get more help on chosing!
This brings us to the minefield of chosing a smartwatch. All major parties cards are on the table for 2015 it seems. Sure there might be a few companies trying to get a piece of the action later in the year but the big players are all in. The Apple Watch will start shipping shortly to the lucky few who got in early, Google has many Android Wear devices out there already including the headline act that is the Moto 360 and finally ( but not least ) Pebble have both their Time and Time Steel watches announced and starting to ship soon.
So why did I chose the Pebble Time Steel?
1) Cost – Whilst I’m really excited about the wearables space more and more I have my doubts that the watch is truly the best way to go. Maybe its the answer for now but it doesn’t seem the long-term answer. The Time Steel gives me a chance to experiment in this space without taking my eyes out financially.
2) Cross-platform – I’ve been enjoying my experiment with Android over the last year or more but I’m undecided if it’s the long-term future for me. I have pangs of jealousy looking at the gorgeous screen, build quality and camera of my wife’s iPhone 6 Plus. Chosing Pebble gives me the option to swap at a later date and not leave me with a dumb watch. I hear many rumblings that generally the Pebble works better on Android so that’s another positive aspect for me right now.
3) Maturity – Pebble launched as the first smartwatch in 2012. That’s a good head start for the company to figure out its watch, platform and vision. Developers have been highly creative with the software and there is a huge app store now. Granted I have no doubts there will be an enormous app store for the Apple Watch in time but right now it seems developers are really limited in what they can do.
4) Always on Colour E-Ink – When the Pebble first launched I really loved the idea of it. The display though was a total turn off though. By this point I was used to retina display multi-colour displays on my phone. Going to pixelated black and white seemed too much of a step backwards. Now with colour E-Ink I feel much happier and whilst its not LCD level resolution I hope it will be enough.
5) Battery – This is a huge issue to me. I am totally sick to death of charging gadgets. If I’m going to let a smartwatch into my life I want it just to be working when I need it. The 10 day battery life of the Time Steel was as much a clincher as the higher end materials it has. Now I can see myself charging it once a week on a Sunday perhaps, ready for the week ahead with no fear it will die on me.
6) Waterproof – Not a deal breaker as such but knowing I can get it wet or even drop it in water without breaking it is pretty neat.
7) Smartstraps – A great concept whereby you swap out your standard strap for something that adds extra functionality of your chosing. Examples could be a heart rate monitor, GPS or extra battery. The possibilities are huge and as Pebble have made the technology open means there should be a thriving group of engineers trying to make the most of this ability. I can’t wait to see what they can do!
I have concerns. Of course I do. The Apple Watch is widely being hailed as the best smartwatch yet even if most have some serious reservations attached to that statement. It has the potential to kill off Pebbles market.Build quality is another concern. I hope the buttons are solid, well engineered and correctly aligned. Flawless industrial design is Apples trumph card in everything it makes.
Pebble has one thing on its side though. Its backers.
The record-breaking response to the Pebble Time Kickstarter shows how big and passionate the community has become. Over 78,000 people backed the Kickstarter having never seen or used one in their hands.The Pebble owners I have chatted to really like their watches and are impressed how as time goes by the updates just make them constantly better and more useful. Never underestimate this kind of community enthusiasm. It was this enthusiast passion that helped to drive Apple to succeed and without it Apple may have gone to the wall before its huge turn around. It seems hard to imagine now. Maybe one day we’ll look back at Pebble in the same light?
I’ll be honest. Pebble had me with just the colour e-ink and battery life alone. I waited and held off. I wanted the Steel version. Now I just have to wait until July. But that’s cool. By then the Pebble Time will be in use and no doubt many software updates will have been pushed out hopefully making my start a little less bumpy.
I’ve thrown in my hand now lets see how this plays out.
When I get my watch I’ll post some first impressions and thoughts on living with it. If there is anything you would like me to comment on or check out please let me know.
Meanwhile I’m just going to leave this super cool promo video for the Pebble Time Steel right here..