April 11th 2012 10:49 am

final rating

reviewed on
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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Features Does enough out-of-the-box to warrant a purchase, but the promise of an SDK and app store is tantalizing. good
  • Display Not an amazing display in size or resolution, but does its job well enough. so-so
  • Battery life I haven't tested enough to verify Allerta's 7-day claim, but it's been over 24 hours now and charging hasn't entered my mind. great!
  • Ease of use The watch's hardware buttons on the left and right sides are a bit hard to press, however this also means you won't be hitting them accidentally. good
  • Storage capacity No comments
  • Design and form factor Plain-looking, but for its target market, that's all it needs to be. This is a tool, not a fashion accessory. good
  • Portability (size / weight) Not heavy at all, easy to adjust and remove. great!
  • Durability Held its own against a running faucet and the beating drops of a shower nozzle. great!
Detailed review
After a long, emotional wait, the Pebble is finally here. Does it live up to expectations? In most ways, yes. It's almost exactly as advertised, with the exception of the SDK and app marketplace, but Allerta promises it will be publicly available given a few months' time. The Pebble works exactly as you'd expect; it's a no-frills smartwatch with customizable faces, music playback controls, notification alerts, and an alarm. Some may say it doesn't do enough to warrant the pricetag, but I think its simplicity is actually an advantage over other smartwatches currently saturating the market (Sony Smartwatch, Metawatch, Motorola Motoactv, to name a few). By not having a touchscreen or densely-packed information-overloaded watchface, the Pebble succeeds on a level none of the others do: it's usable.

Having notifications instantly delivered to my wrist where I could quickly glance at them without tearing my phone out of my pocket is a real treat, definitely something I could get used to. Being able to walk away from my phone for a bit and not miss anything is a truly liberating experience. At times I wished I could have quick responses for SMS, but ultimately I'm glad they weren't implemented, at the risk of overcomplication.

The user interface itself is dead-simple, new users will adjust to it in minutes. Watchfaces are considered apps, and one can press the back button to navigate to the app list and choose from the multiple watchfaces, settings, music playback, or alarms.

All that being said, the Pebble does have a few downsides. For one, the screen is low-res and tiny, meaning it's hard to see in some low-light situations. In these cases, a tap or shake of the watch will activate its backlight. This wouldn't be a problem, except the tapping mechanism is very hit-or-miss. You'll get a higher success rate from just shaking the thing, so I wish Allerta had spent more time finely-tuning the accelerometer. The buttons do take some effort to press, but I can't completely blame Allerta for this; I would much rather have to exert force to press the buttons than to have them press when I bump them on any random surface. I'm nitpicking though, these are very small qualms overall.

All in all, it's a solid product, and one that I would definitely recommend at $150. The eventual promise of an SDK makes this even more of an investment worth making; the official Pebble forums are already rife with app ideas that developers are dying to bring to fruition. If you're in the market for a smartwatch, the Pebble is the only one I would wholeheartedly recommend (until Apple makes one and blows everyone else out of the water, but this will do for now).
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