It's hard to believe that nine months have elapsed since we first wrote about Pebble. The smartwatch quickly became one of Kickstarter's most successful campaigns -- raising $10 million in a few short weeks -- only to miss its original shipping date. We knew things were looking up when the device recently cleared the FCC and today at CES 2013, Allerta confirmed that Pebble will be shipping to its backers on January 23rd.
We spent some time with the smartwatch here in Las Vegas and came away extremely impressed with the level of polish the company's achieved. Pebble's most visually striking feature is its colorful multi-layer polycarbonate face / bezel, which looks fantastic. The device is incredibly light (just 38.2g / 1.35oz) but still manages to feel solid. Build-quality is top-notch -- Allerta's clearly put a lot of care into the hardware. The sides and back are black and completely sealed (Pebble is water-resistant to five atmospheres). On the right side you'll find the up, select and down buttons, while the left side is home to the back button and a magnetic power connector, à la MagSafe. Speaking of which, battery life is rated for a lofty seven days per charge. More after the break.
Pebble smartwatch hands-on
The smartwatch is equipped with a 1.26-inch backlit e-paper display (144 x 168 pixels, black and white) that's easy to read despite its low resolution. Under the hood there's a Bluetooth 4.0 radio, vibration motor, accelerometer and compass which enable some interesting new functionality. For example, just tapping the bezel above the armband lights up the screen. We found Pebble's UI simple and intuitive -- the up and down buttons enable menu navigation, the select button lets you chose items and the back button takes you up one level (and initially brings up the main menu). Allerta's done a great job at fine tuning the software -- scrolling is extremely fluid and the UI is pleasantly responsive.
In the main menu you'll find three built-in watch faces, a music app, an alarm clock, the settings menu and a "get started" guide. Up to eight additional watch faces / apps can be pushed to the smartwatch over Bluetooth from a paired iOS or Android device running Allerta's companion app. Pebble can also receive SMS, email and other notifications (iMessage, Google Talk and popular social networks are also supported). The music app turns the smartwatch into an AVRCP-compatible remote and the settings menu handles Bluetooth, time and display settings, natch.
Once the initial orders are fulfilled, you'll be able to pick up Pebble for $149 in your choice of black, grey, red or orange (all with black bands) as well as white (with a white band). The smartwatch ships in a simple black and brown box with a zip tab reminiscent of the Kindle's packaging. Enjoy the gallery and be sure to peek at our hands-on video above.
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