Thursday, a week ago, I received my shiny new Pebble Time in red. It was quite exciting to receive; I had been looking forward to playing with it since the Kickstarter. While I had an original Pebble, I didn’t wear it much for a variety of reasons. I’m betting $200 that version 2 will have worked out all the major flaws and provide a much better experience.
Battery / Charging
The most important part of a watch, for me, is not having another device I need to charge every day. I tried that with the Moto 360 and it failed in very short order. Beyond being a major annoyance, it’s dumb when you have to pack a special charger for your watch for an overnight trip (when I don’t even need to bring a charger for my phone). Fear not, the Pebble Time lives up to its reputation and heritage of being a long lasting device.
On Friday morning after I received the Pebble Time, I pulled it off the charger and strapped it on. It stayed with me (without charger) all through a normal day of work on Friday, a late Friday night, the weekend, and then a two day holiday (Monday & Tuesday). On Tuesday night (pictured) it was reporting ~15% battery life left. It was pleasant to have fun for 5 full days without worrying about my watch dying on my wrist; while I suspect that it could have gotten away with one more day, that was a sufficient test. I charged the watch again on Tuesday night since I was off to Toronto to setup a new office. While the trip was 4 days, I did not need to take a charger. This concept is quite pleasant to me as I have too many chargers I need to carry as is. On the return flight today (Saturday), I still had 41% battery remaining.
The e-Ink color display is capable of surprisingly good animations. When I think of e-Ink, I still think of my original Kindle which took a quarter second for every page turn. The Pebble Time screen looks great in the sun and has a good backlight. The only time I’ve had trouble reading the display is when the watch is on the dark side of a high contrast environment (e.g. driving on a sunny day, and watch is in a shadow).
Speaking of Kindles, they’re somewhat infamous for their “screen wipe” effects, of which I’ve not seen the Pebble Time do at all. It does do some nifty transition animations which could serve the same function, but they are seamless. With the exception of a single crash/reboot while tinkering with settings, I’ve had no issues, no screen malfunctions, not even a hiccup.
Maybe I’m old school, but a watch is first and foremost a watch. The joy of an watch of this caliber is that I can customize the watch face to display exactly the information I want. Beyond that the Pebble Time provides a great notification extension. Like many high tech workers, I live and die by the connectivity my watch provides me regardless of location. Be it meeting reminders while in the office, or text messages from monitoring systems while I’m out and about, it’s critical for me. Of course this abundance of connectivity and notifications means that I’m constantly inundated with notifications, and constantly checking my phone. Is it a text from a friend? Alert about service issues? Reminder not to work too much? The watch provides a quick and discrete method of keeping an eye on these notifications.
Of course the Pebble Time also supports a variety of apps, though I’ll admit I don’t much use them currently. A large portion of that is because the apps designed for Pebble Time (color etc), just aren’t there yet. They’re coming, and there will be many of them for sure, but the watch is brand new and one must be patient. The other issue is that I simply don’t want to spend that much time futzing with my watch. A few quick presses to approve an MFA? Sure. Composing an entire text message response? No thank you.
I’ve had the watch for about two weeks now and I do enjoy it, but it hasn’t been nearly long enough to really say for sure if this is the most amazing device in the world. For others, it’s a question of having enough of a use case. For those who aren’t into the latest toys, the eWatch craze, and don’t need to discretely check on notifications a dozen or so times an hour, skip the Pebble for now.