Pebble Steel Review

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Darth_Marques, Apr 20, 2015.

  1. Darth_Marques

    Darth_Marques Administrator Staff Member Administrator Premium

    So I received my Pebble steel yesterday afternoon. I've posted my initial remarks on another thread but I'll reiterate them here.

    The box was nice, fitting of the device resting inside of it. A dark blue outside with the logo on the lid. All nice and appealing, considering it arrived inside a shipping bag and cardboard box. Removed the watch and it was surprisingly light. I had expected a behemoth of a device, and the weight to match it. However, it was no heavier than your typical watch. The glossy black is nice at first look, and even more appealing as time goes on. I ordered the all black treatment, black bands, black face, etc. The watch comes with a leather band pre-attached regardless of buying a NATO band or steel band. Swapping out the bands was straightforward, just unscrew 2 screws. And taking out links to size it was easy enough as well. Everything was tightly packed inside the box as well, nothing rattled when I shook it prior to opening. I liked it at this point, but I already liked it. So moving on.

    24 hours later:
    I've worn the watch all day today, and I hardly notice it. Its just there waiting for me to need it. Functionally, its great. If you want a simple watch with a basic screen then the Pebble delivers. I didn't want a big fancy contraption, just something to tell me what I needed to know and could be easily dismissed. It isn't an eye-catcher. I had to explain to several relatives that it wasn't just a watch. However, the older relatives seemed to like the fact that it wasn't a hugely fancy device. It can do the basics, and then some. Pairing was simple, though I wish it paired via NFC versus Bluetooth. In my experience NFC gives better battery life to devices, but I won't be picky. It works, and that's all I need. The buttons are great. You have the three navigation buttons on the right and the one "home" button on the left. They have a solid feel to them and don't click like I had expected. The face doesn't give off any kind of glare from the sun, even in full sunlight. And the e-ink display makes it extremely easy to see in full sunlight. In the dark, the backlight is not overly bright. It won't light up the room, but its bright enough to see it in the dark. The app quality is fantastic. There are full-fledged games, though it reminds me of the original gameboy on a REALLY small screen. There are apps for everything, from sports scores to reading tweets. And the selection of various watch faces is mind boggling. One thing to keep in mind is that each app you install takes up a slot on the device. You can only have 8 apps installed at any one point. To me, 8 is plenty as I only need 4 right now. I have 2 watch faces and 2 other apps installed currently. The device comes with 3 watch faces installed by default (these do not count toward your app slots) including analog, digital text, and digital numbers with date above it. My favorite watch face is called DigitMM where the (digital) hour is centered and the minutes rotate around the face as time passes. I'm also partial to another that is digital with a note section above it that has proven pretty useful. Other features include an alarm clock that vibrates at the alarm time, though this assumes you'll be wearing the watch when you need waking.

    So, battery life. I left it charging all last night and today I've used roughly half of the battery. I expected this for the most part as the battery needs to go through several cycles before it "breaks in" and gives the best battery life. Charging time is around 3 hrs but can be sped up by unpairing from the phone and turning off Bluetooth (haven't tested this, but some users stated charge times from dead in as little as an hour.)

    So that's my review so far. Overall, its been 24 hours but I already like it. Its just there, and not wearing it seems weird. Checking notifications is quick and easy, very discreet if you don't want to pull out your phone to see if its important or not. So any questions about the device, ask away. I'll give my thoughts on it as best I can.

    Updates for quicker jumping to what you need to see:
    Battery Life 1
    Smart Watch Spec Comparison
    Battery Life 2
    Overall rating after 24 hours: 7 out of 10
    Overall rating after a week: 9 out of 10
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015
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  2. Reaper

    Reaper Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Initial impressions seem good. I looked into it more, it looks like a good simplistic watch, it's somewhat affordable too. Let us know what you think after some more use. Overall so far, think it was worth the price? What kind of features/apps do you use the most?
  3. Darth_Marques

    Darth_Marques Administrator Staff Member Administrator Premium

    It was worth the price so far. I've had zero issues with it. Stays connected at around 15-20 ft, so I can leave my phone for a minute if I need to, or if I just forget it. As far as apps go, checking texts is incredibly nice. Especially if I'm in a location that a phone glance wouldn't be appreciated. I also keep coming back to weather, and the availability of fitness apps is getting me motivated to start running and working out. Time will tell, so I'm giving it until Saturday before I give a better, more refined take on the device.
  4. Darth_Marques

    Darth_Marques Administrator Staff Member Administrator Premium

    Additionally, the Pandora app is extremely useful. You can rate songs, play/pause, skip, and even swap stations all from the watch without touching the phone. One gripe with it, the volume adjustment is laggy at best. It takes a while for it to catch up if you attempt to adjust it too quickly.
  5. Reaper

    Reaper Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    It's great to have fitness capability in a watch. I have a separate wristband to sync to my phone after a run. I never check the weather either, sometimes in the morning and always before a run but in the UK I find it to be unpredictable a lot of the time, if the process was as simple as an app on a watch I'd probably check it more often.

    Is there a headphone jack or Bluetooth capability? Or does it connect to your phone and play from there?
  6. Darth_Marques

    Darth_Marques Administrator Staff Member Administrator Premium

    It plays from your phone. Launches the app and everything. If you have a Bluetooth headset or headphone connected to your phone, it will work like normal.

    And my statement about the separate alarm on the watch itself needs to be recanted. It vibrates so hard that it woke me up from 20 ft away. It was sitting on a countertop, but it was insanely loud.
  7. Reaper

    Reaper Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Sounds much better than I expected, then again I was judging from a display.
  8. Darth_Marques

    Darth_Marques Administrator Staff Member Administrator Premium

    So in the 3 full days I've had it so far, battery life was as follows:

    Day One: Full charge at 7 am to about 25% charge around 10 pm.
    Day Two(work day): Full charge at 5 am to about 50% charge at 10pm
    Day Three: Full charge at 5 am to around 75% charge at 9 pm.

    Battery life has been improving in huge gains charging it every night. This is with around the same number of texts, calls, emails, and same number of apps installed. Moderate to heavy usage (at times) all day.

    Tomorrow, I'll start at full charge and not charge it tomorrow night, then the next day, etc. See if I can manage the 5-7 days battery life. I'm doubtful that it will get that, though at the rate it discharged today, it'll get to 4 days before needing a charge. Not a whole lot off, though I think the estimate of 5-7 days is assuming that BT is off and its just a normal watch for that amount of time.
  9. Reaper

    Reaper Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    The improvement in battery life is significant. It's a huge improvement. What's the battery life advertised to be?
  10. Darth_Marques

    Darth_Marques Administrator Staff Member Administrator Premium

    Advertised as 5-7 days, though I'm wondering if it was being used as only a watch. As it was yesterday, it was probably a 4 day charge life, give or take half a day.

    Edit: I'd read several review online about notifications being about a second slower than the phone, but today I've paid attention to that detail. Its almost immediate when your phone is in your pocket. My phone vibrates, then my wrist vibrates before my phone is done vibrating. Its only slow when the phone is being used, though I'd like a feature to disable alerts completely when the phone is actually in use.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
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  11. Darth_Marques

    Darth_Marques Administrator Staff Member Administrator Premium

    Here's a chart comparing various smartwatches:


    Pretty complete, considering all the big players. The Pebble is massively overmatched on paper, obviously. However, it doesn't need all that extra stuff because you see notifications and the time/date. IMO, looking at pictures on your wrist would suck (Apple) as far as detail.
  12. Darth_Marques

    Darth_Marques Administrator Staff Member Administrator Premium

    Ok, so after the last few days of testing battery life without charging:
    I got 4 FULL days out of the device, with some juice to spare. This is with anywhere from 40-100 notifications a day, and Bluetooth being on about half the time. (Bluetooth was turned off at night to maximize battery life.) After a week of use, I've worn it to work every day. It's not uncomfortable, as I hadn't worn a watch in 3 years. It's slipped into my life easily, and I've got 2 or 3 questions from strangers about the watch. The best part to me, unless someone has seen the Pebble watch previously, it never would have been taken as a smartwatch. In other words, cosmetically it delivers on simplicity and is kind of a ninja about being a smartwatch.

    The first couple of days was slightly weird, had to get used to looking at my wrist to see why it was vibrating. After the second day, it was more natural and comfortable. Dismissing emails on the watch will dismiss them entirely from the phone as well, unless you hit the "back" button on the left. Texts cannot be dismissed, though you can reply with a simple smiley or emoticon. It's great for quick and easy replies that don't require a long answer. "Dinner at 5?" and I reply via watch ";)" or a thumbs up. Simple, quick, and I didn't have to pull out my phone to send it.

    The one thing I couldn't test was phone call answering/rejecting. Rejecting came up on the watch, but answering did not. I think it would if I had a bluetooth headset connected, but I never got a chance to actually test this. (Really though, answering from your watch while the phone is still in your pocket really isn't useful... They'll hear you pull the phone out or whatever you're doing at the time.)

    At night, the watch face is easy to see and a gently shake lights the screen up. Several times, I had one arm full (kids) and was asked for the time in the dark. No need to use my already burdened other hand to press the button, just shake and it lights up.

    Rating after 1 week: 9 out of 10

    Edit: Updated OP with links to important messages.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015

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