Pebble Time Steel Mini Review

Overview

For those who don’t know the Pebble Time was the second generation E-Ink display smart watch. The Kick Starter Campaign started first half of 2015. It was the first smart watch that had more than a days worth of battery and it was a second generation watch. I didn’t put a pledge in until the Steel version was announced. It slipped by about 1 month but that wasn’t too bad.

Hardware

Box 2
The watch came with the leather strap and because I got the Steel version, the metal strap came separately. The straps were interchangeable using a small lever on the underside. At first the pins and mechanism looked fairly fragile but as time went on it didn’t feel like they were in danger of breaking.

They were fairly easy to swap and because of this it made purchasing the black version not to be too bad. My previous experience with the Sony MBW-1 scratched extremely badly but with this you could buy a new one and not have to go to the jewellery store to change it.

The case was made of metal with solid textured buttons. The case was matte except for the rim edge which was a nice touch. One thing that was a negative was that it was a typical smart watch rectangle and it had extremely thick bezel.

It connects to a phone via Bluetooth and it also supports the low energy spec (more below).

Display

Pebble Time Steel
The E-Ink screen was good in the sense it did not go to all black like you see in an Amazon Kindle when you refresh the page. The animations were smooth and I don’t think you’d be able to tell it’s an E-Ink screen (No one noticed a bright light coming from the watch). The colours did look quite pale and in dimly light room it was hard to see without turning the backlight on. In the outdoor I didn’t have to use the backlight at all.

Android

Android app
Downloading and connecting to the phone was very easy. The app even had material design look and feel. Setup was easy and the rest was very intuitive. The app was split into 3 categories:

  1. Watch Faces
  2. Apps
  3. Notifications

The faces category showed previews of the watch faces downloaded and includes one non-removable default face. More faces can be downloaded from the Pebble store. This was where it went wrong. The categories didn’t make for easy browsing and weren’t broken down like your typical store. For example Chops Collection, Hot Weather Faces, etc. I also found once I had chosen the one I liked I rarely changed it.

The Apps section were applications running on the watch. I noticed there were 2 types of apps: ones that run on the watch like compass and others which were almost like bridges from the watch to an app on your phone. For example I had Sleep as Android installed and the app on the watch could control the app on the phone like start monitoring my sleep pattern or vibrate the watch when the alarm goes off.

The Notifications allowed individual app control of whether the notifications from those app appear on the watch. The toggle for each app is great but I did find some notifications overrode others. For example a text message comes in but then the PocketCast app would should what you’re listening to. Overall I found this feature good especially in meetings to see what came through on the phone but it’s of limited use because you cannot reply to emails and text messages only allowed preset messages to be sent.

Power

Back
The claimed battery time was up to 7 days. I found this depends on the watch face you have. If it was only displaying time with hours and minutes then I managed to get around 5-6 days (probably could push to 7 if I had a charger in work). This was very fantastic. However, if you had a face that included seconds then I only got around 2 days.

It charges using a proprietary cable that has magnets to hold it in place. Finding and aligning the cable was easy but I found it came off very easily. The display also changes to show that it’s charging so you always know. I didn’t notice how long it took to fully charge because I left it for hours before picking it back up again.

Other

Things to note was the watch was water resistant but I’ve gotten into the habit of taking it off when coming near water except washing hands. This was despite the charging pins were exposed on the back.

The Pebble Time Steel strap had a hair pinching feel to it which I did not like.

The case itself was slightly curved to your wrist which was a nice touch.

Summary

Overall it’s an interesting experience but I found it of limited use. The microphone wasn’t even supported at the time of release which if it linked into Google Now I think it would be a killer feature.

Using it as a sleep tracker was probably the best thing I found.

In the end I sold it.

About Danny

I.T software professional always studying and applying the knowledge gained and one way of doing this is to blog. Danny also has participates in a part time project called Energy@Home [http://code.google.com/p/energyathome/] for monitoring energy usage on a premise. Dedicated to I.T since studying pure Information Technology since the age of 16, Danny Tsang working in the field that he has aimed for since leaving school. View all posts by Danny → This entry was posted in Review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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