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Pebble Steel (getpebble.com)
75 points by alexobenauer 1238 days ago | hide | past | web | 58 comments | favorite

Obviously subjective, but I think the design is hideous. It reminds me of tacky faux-professional 80s watches. In fact, doing a search for "80s watches" brings this up pretty quickly: http://modculture.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/02/2...

Which is exactly what comes to mind for me. I think it really works against what they're going for with the product.

Vintage Casio's are en vogue. In fact, they even brought back a vintage product line since there was so much demand http://www.casio-intl.com/in/en/wat/vintage/

If you've ever paid attention to the wrists of the SF hipster crowd vintage digital/calculator watches are common. American Apparel even sells them in store: http://store.americanapparel.net/category/index.jsp?catId=ca...

Intentional or not, the silver watch is a nice throwback while the matte black is distinctly modern IMHO.

Good for me and I'm no hipster.

I've worn a Casio F91W for about 25 years so every decade I'm in fashion at least once :)

Design has really never been Pebble's strong point.

Secondly (call me close-minded) I honestly don't get what use/niche 'Smart Watches' fill.

Got a notification? Whip out your phone.

Got a notification and need to respond? Whip out your phone.

Got a notification and need to respond but are 10 meters away from your phone? Sprint like hell to your phone...or conversely, wait till you find your way back to your phone.

Got a notification but don't want to obnoxiously check your phone in front of your significant other/friend/coworker/familymemeber/human? Newsflash: You're still being obnoxious when you check your watch/Glass.

Want to change your music? Come on, your phone lockscreen does that in one button touch too.

Want to check your "team's score"? Google Now. NFL app. Lockscreen changers. Etc.

Want to personalize your watch? Let me link you to a personalized watch store. http://www.amazon.com/Watches-Mens-Womens-Kids-Accessories/b...

Want to have a watch that works underwater? See above link.

Want to customize your watchband? See above above link.

Want to read it in sunlight? ...

Want to wake up (assuming you charge it at some other time) with it's gentle vibrations? Lots of smartphone apps ( and of course Jawbone Up, Nike Fuel Band, FitBit, etc) do that as well.

Want to know the time? Well...Sure.

I just don't really understand the rationale behind smart-watches [as they currently stand].

[Edit: I've read the below comments and I now understand.]

> Whip out your phone.

Well that scenario is more like this:

Fish your phone out of your pocket or bag, unlock the screen, pull down the notification bar, navigate to the app...


Look at your wrist.

Pebble is quite convenient especially when you're on the go. Walking while staring at your phone is quite hazardous. Also, when my phone is in my pocket, I usually don't hear it ring but I definitely feel when something strapped to my wrist vibrates.

Does it really matter if you hear it or not though?

My phone is in my pocket. I don't need to respond to every minor notification. The only important one is when it rings and it makes a lot of noise then as well.

It does to me. I have notifications set up to appear from things I care about - and now I can see them instantly, which means I'm not pulling my phone out of my pocket to check for them when they haven't actually appeared yet, just in case.

I just remember stuff.

Yes, and that's if you can hear or feel it vibrate in your bag, which can be difficult, specially in crowded/noisy places.

Phones can show the info on the lock screen.

This is exactly why I bought mine, and it was totally worth it.

I've been watching my fiancé use his Pebble for a few months now and I think it's useful. It's basically the convenience in knowing the time, except you also get more information on everything (his face shows time, weather, phone battery, and calendar info) with reliable one-touch actions (touchid on our iPhone 5s's became moot while we had gloves on in Boston a few days ago so there goes any "one touch" actions on a phone in one common case). For a lot of people a watch is pointless or purely a status item in the first place.

Although... it may be that I want one because my phone lives in my purse/bag since girl pants tend to avoid pockets like the plague, whereas men tend to have pants pockets where they can put their phone. It would take one second to look at a pebble vs a few seconds or more to look for my phone and a lot of the time, it's some trivial message that could have waited but there's only so much sound/notification customization I can do. I could be shaving a couple minutes and a bunch of effort and annoyance every single day with a Pebble.

Unfortunately, as you mention, design has never been their strong point. I don't think I can walk around with one and not have it look like a bulky mens watch.

You're missing the utility it provides if you use specific applications built for the watch.

I have built tennis and squash scoring apps. I wear the watch day to day, however I get most value from the watch by keeping track of my racquet sport games from my wrist. Not sure if you've played before but after a couple intensive rallies it is really easy to forget what the score was, or where the next serve needs to be from.

There are plenty of other custom applications people can use to assist them in day to day activities. Something my friend has mentioned is when riding his scooter, he can use google maps without looking at his phone because the notifications are pushed to his pebble...

I really like the idea of squash scoring on the watch. Is it the version on mypebblefaces?

I started out liking the alerts for using google maps, but ended up finding it intensely annoying when driving in the city since there ended up being far too many notifications when going through roundabouts etc (approaching, turn off roundabout, distance to next turn).

Relatively minor annoyances (including double notifications sometimes when unlocking) compared to the utility I get from it though.

The funny thing is I read all this stuff about people disliking the look of the plastic Pebble, but all I've heard from people who see it has been positive (I don't wear it as a dress watch though).

Yeah thats the last version.

I am working to convert them over to v2 of the SDK.

Tennis app is almost ready. Doing the squash one will not be too hard.

I bought a Pebble – thinking it'd be great to know who it was calling/texting me while I was riding my motorcycle, so I could decide whether to pull over and get my phone out of my pocket. It turns out that the answer is _always_ "No!". Now that I've had my Pebble for almost a year, I don't even look at it when I feel my phone ringing in my pocket while riding the bike.

It _has_ gotten me back in the habit of wearing a watch though, after something like 20 years of relying on a phone if I wanted to know the time I now feel like I'm "missing something" when I don't have it on my wrist.

(Turns out probably the most useful thing it does as a "smart watch" is being used as a replacement for the bicycle computer I lost - I now use Runkeeper running on my phone and the Pebble on my wrist to do the keeping track of speed/time/distance that I used to do with my ~$20 bike computer. Not a spectacularly successful outcome for a ~$130 toy…)

I have been using the Pebble for about a month. Being able to just glance at your wrist to check the notification is just so convenient. I don't have to take out my phone and then enter my password to check each and every notifications.

There are also a lot of interesting third party apps. The ones I like locks the phone and vibrates the Pebble if it the Pebble and phone are disconnected.

Smart watches are not useful if you are idle or nearly idle and the rate of notifications is low. But if you are busy or the rate of notifications is high then that changes dramatically.

What are some examples? Doing any physical work is a perfect example. Maybe you're cooking, or plugging together and configuring a rack full of networking or AV equipment, or soldering, or building a house, or basically doing any of the million things people do every day where an interruption long enough to check a smart phone is a serious disruption to the flow of work.

And what happens when you're not just receiving 1 notification per hour or even every 10 minutes but perhaps 10 notifications in 1 minute? Not all day, but all it takes is 10 notifications per minute to happen once or twice a day to make having a smart watch worthwhile.

It may not be the sort of thing that is ever useful to you, but that's fine, don't buy one. But they are plenty useful for a lot of people.

Well if you get that many notifications, I'd just start ignoring them / turning them off. Too much noise, too much distraction. Plus, it's probably not important / something one needs to respond immediately to.

It's not noise though. For me a smartwatch would replace a radio. With a radio you can easily pass a handful of messages back and forth every minute with low overhead, but with a smartphone that many messages becomes a burden. With a smart watch it's not a burden.

I've been wearing a Pebble for a little over a month now, and I find the key convenience of it is that I spend less time on my phone.

Before Pebble, I'd get one notification (perhaps from Facebook), but after checking that one notification, I end up getting lost while catching up on my entire News Feed.

Now, I glance at the Pebble. I get that one notification. If it's important, I act on it. Otherwise I dismiss it and go about living in the real world.

Pebble allows me to keep my phone in my pocket, which makes "whipping out my phone" the barrier to an action that will ultimately lead to my distraction.

Personally, I use my Pebble as a 2nd alert device - which is very handy for meeting alerts, as I don't have emails showing up on there, only SMS and meeting reminders - so if my Phone buzzes and I'm heads-down, I can ignore. If I'm wearing my Pebble and it buzzes (likely along with the phone), I pay attention.

That and my old watch died about a year before I got my Pebble, it's nice to have a watch again.

I'm always missing phone calls and timely text messages because I don't feel my phone vibrating in my pocket.

Pebble solves that. Plus the white version is, as far as I'm concerned, a nicely stylish accessory too.

That justified the use, for me.

I agree with the silver watchface with the silver metalic strap looking tacky, but having seen both the silver one and the black ones in person, I can definitely say the black one with the polished black strap looks amazing.

The silver one also looks rather decent if you put a better wrist strap on it. For example: http://instagram.com/p/i1r-EyNxSO/

Pebble Steel actually comes with that leather strap in the box, so you can choose which style you like.

Yeah that definitely looks better I'll admit.

After clicking through I opened Facebook and was served a "suggested story" offering me $15 off a Pebble "Today Only" via retargeting (http://imgur.com/qcH42af).

Clicked through and got this message that the promotion "isn't active." (http://imgur.com/pOt9KsR)

Stop burning money, team Pebble. You're welcome.

Watches >$20 will always be jewelry first and functionality second. This is a step in the right direction but I think they can do better.

I think we need a round face. Years of watch making tells us its clearly more attractive and what most consumers prefer, and a round display will be more 'revolutionary' then just a tiny smart phone on your wrist.

I was a watchmaker before I started hacking on code and realized it had a better future. Yes, one of those guys with a loupe and tweezers, and even an itty bitty lathe assembling small parts in the back corner of some old shop.

Watches greater than $20 is (hopefully) every single fucking watch in existence. You're deluding yourself if you think that manufacturing costs of these things will become so low you could buy one instead of lunch, and have it work at least until dinner the same day. If you want a quality, but commoditized watch at a bargain price, you'll be looking at $150 to $250, which will last you for 4 or 5 years, and can be serviced when needed. (Isn't this place the same place that bemoans Apple every time a new iPad or MacBook Air comes out on how unserviceable they are?)

Watches over $300 are arguably jewelry (and I'm being very generous here). Watches over $1,000 are starting to become timepieces, and people still pay good money for high quality watches that can last generations. The watch on my wrist right now is has been running constantly for over 10 years old, and has been serviced once (basically an oil change). What other mechanical device have you ever owned that has run constantly for ~5 years and not needed service? Your car can barely go 50 hours of continuous use at 65MPH before it's recommended to change the oil.

And round face? Really? Years (centuries, actually) of watchmaking have given us a round face because watches have always been manufactured on a lathe, which has a habit of producing round objects. Round faces are not "clearly more attractive". In fact, marketing of high end watches suggest that a half convex rectangle (width sides are straight, length sides are convex) is the most attractive watch shape, which is precisely what the Pebble is.

Sorry for the rant, but seriously, $20 is the worst number you could have pulled out of your ass, along with the round shape statement. Listen, I own, and probably dislike the Pebble (as a watch) just as much as anyone else that dislikes it, but your comment here is just completely uneducated and lacks any facts whatsoever.

There are also digital quartz watches. Here's one that is certainly under $20: http://www.amazon.com/Casio-F91W-1-Classic-Resin-Digital/dp/...

The watch I wear is a Casio A168W-1 and it costs $16.92 on Amazon. It's already lasted 2.5 years, is still in great condition, and I love the thing. (Also looks similar to the silver Pebble Steel.)


I have a couple of Skagen watches too, but honestly the Casio is the one I reach for every day.

And round face? Really? Years (centuries, actually) of watchmaking have given us a round face because watches have always been manufactured on a lathe, which has a habit of producing round objects.

Given that the faceplate is just that, a plate, I would have thought that the common 'roundness' was due more to trying to match the shape described by the hands than anything lathe-related, empty corners not looking pretty. Where square faces with hands exist, the design of the face usually tries to fill in those corners somehow.


"Watches >$20 will always be jewelry first and functionality second."

I'll heartily disagree with that. I would eagerly own a pebble, even the ugly plastic models, because it has utility to me. I work a small number of shows per year where I spend a lot of time busy and where my team has to keep coordinated, which we do so using groupme/text messaging, and the value of reducing latency/friction of keeping coordinated is hugely valuable in those circumstances.

Also, I own an altimeter watch which I use for hiking/backpacking. It's perhaps not as useful as the GPS feature in a smartphone (or a GPS handset) but it has the advantage of working even if I'm surrounded by tall trees and it gives me useful data just by looking at it (time, altitude), plus I don't have to worry about the batteries running out. It definitely doesn't look like jewelry.

>Watches >$20 will always be jewelry first and functionality second.

Bullshit. There are so many useful features that can't be packed into a <$20 device, especially not one small enough to fit comfortably on your wrist.

High-precision resonators, wireless time reception, solar power and/or high quality power cells, sensors (temperature, location, direction, biometrics, etc.), utility features (chronograph, alarm, etc) are not "jewelry" features. They are strictly utile.

And, of course, having obvious "computer" capabilities like a relatively high-resolution display and high-bandwidth short-range radio is not aesthetic; it's functional.

I never wear round face watches, they tend to look worse on me than rectangular ones. Either way I don't think the shape of the pebble face will have a huge bearing on its success.

$249 is a lot of money - you're talking the cost of a subsidized high-end phone for something that has less functionality. My intuition tells me smart-watches wont sell in big BIG numbers unless:

- It's a phone, therefore it can be subsidized by the carriers

- It almost does everything a smartphone can, including having a lot of screen real-estate, but only costs ~$250 unsubsidized. Perhaps like a flexible iPod touch that wraps around your wrist

If someone can come up with a $200+ wrist-mounted device that sells in the millions but doesn't meet the same level of functionality as a smartphone then I'll gladly eat my Fitbit.

> It's a phone, therefore it can be subsidized by the carriers

Subsidies are non-existent in many european countries, and seem to be (at least somewhat) on the way out in the US. I don't think this is a requirement.

> It almost does everything a smartphone can, including having a lot of screen real-estate

... or, it does things a smartphone might but is not convenient at - e.g., an LED light is potentially much more useful on a wrist than on a phone. an NFC device is way more useful on your hand. The second factor (think two factor auth) on your wrist is also way better than reaching out for your mobile.

I had the same feeling as well. Especially since I intuitively compare it to the only other e-ink technology I know: the Kindle.

Clarification: Pebble and Kindle do not use the same display technology.

Kindle is e-ink. Pebble is e-paper.

Specification Clarification: The display is a low-power LCD. Pebble insists on calling it "e-paper" in the specs, likely to make people think it's related to the more advanced e-ink display you'd find in ereaders. It's just a low-power gray-scale LCD that loses image whenever power isn't applied to it. Still a cool product. Just a disingenuous spec listing.

To be exact, it's a SHARP Memory LCD. http://www.adafruit.com/products/1393 for DIYers.

It's still closer to e-paper in look and feel (readable without backlight but backlightable, for instance) than what people associate with the word "LCD screen", which is probably what the marketing/spec is trying to convey.


They have extremely high contrast, I don't think it's fair to compare them to standard LCDs (they aren't e-paper either, but they're far closer to that level of contrast). And their static power consumption is in the microwatts.

Having been an early Kickstarter backer and wearer for some time now I jumped at the opportunity to get the new Steel version (black in my case). The reasons:

- The Pebble has replaced my desire to wear one of my 8 other (yes, I'm one of those people) watches - this really is a case of function over form for those who dislike the look.

- I'm addicted to the notifications - especially of incoming calls and SMS (or at least addicted to the feeling that I didn't miss them)

- My current resin Pebble is already showing signs of wear, the strap holder never really did it's function and the screen is now a swirly mess of fine scratches and buff marks that hopefully the new Corning GorillaGlass will remedy.

Those who make throwaway comments about the need/want for a Pebble watch should really be those who have had the opportunity to wear one for a week or so and see the convenience it brings if you're already tethered to the world by your smart-phone.

I have a Pebble, and I love it. One of the best purchases I have made for the value it adds. I wish that Pebble would come out with a watch design that is more feminine. My wife really wants one, but she thinks the current pebbles are too masculine.

I'm 22 and never wore a watch while growing up, but I've been using a Pebble for about 3 months. I really like it.

It's been most helpful when I'm skiing, biking, or flying RC planes. Checking messages at a glance is awesome. I also use it for navigating music while driving.

Probably the biggest affect of using the Pebble has been having its function as a watch - somewhat ironic. If I forget it, I'm constantly looking at my bare wrist to check the time.

I wanted to see a microphone for Siri/Google Now integration in the next hardware revision. Pebble Steel isn't that impressive to me - but I see where someone might want a fancier Pebble, rather than just a fancier band.

Typo toward the bottom: "CES 2014 Announcment" (missing an 'e')


Seriously, though, it's kind of tiring to read.

Haha I came here to say just that. Are all 42 of those words above the fold really important enough to be upper case? Literally this entire page is UPPERCASE COPY of different sizes. I'm imagining their designer looks like this: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_yodqvnVBUBM/TUs3JCu2glI/AAAAAAAAAq...

I always found it really odd and funny, that no matter how hard I try, I always read upper case words as yelling in my head --> definitely straining.


Because of its privacy settings, this video cannot be played here."

5-7 day battery life is really short for a watch.

I guess you don't have to set the time if it runs out of juice tho?

When compared to other "smartwatches" like the Galaxy Gear, 5-7 days is an eternity.

I was pleasantly surprised to see my Pebble work out that I'd crossed a state border into a timezone with no summertime on a roadtrip over xmas/new-year, within 5 or 10 minutes the time on the Pebble updated to "local time".

Interestingly, not being able to _rely_ on whether or not my technology is going to get things like that right reliably might be worse than requiring manual updates to reset stuff like summertime. I always _knew_ the dumb old clock in the ~20 year old car hadn't changed timezone, I was never quite sure which of the phones, tablets, or laptops we had with us were displaying "local time" - every now and then I'd bump into two showing times an hour apart and be confused for a few seconds while I worked out if the earlier or later time was "correct".

I've had a pebble for about 6 months, never actually had the battery fully die. Once the low battery warning shows up you have at least a day of life left in it. It also seems to get a full charge in < 2 hours and a 30 minute charge seems to last about 3-4 days.

My Fitbit Force is pretty crappy, as a watch anyway, and it gets 7 days. Of course, it charges in (what seems like) a really short time, so it evens out.

The time is automatically synced from your phone.

Have they fixed the issue where the screen looks like an oil spill in certain light?

Pebble for MEN.

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