The Pebble Smartwatch

Remember Dick Tracy?  When I was little, the comic strip was still a fixture in the newspaper, and in 1990 Warren Beatty brought the strip to life in a star-studded film with Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, and Madonna.  Of course, the one thing every kid wanted was Dick Tracy’s watch.  It was so cool!  Last November I got a Pebble smartwatch – the real Dick Tracy watch!

The Pebble solves a very specific problem.  If you are like me, you are constantly getting notifications on your iPhone/Android.  Prior to getting my Pebble, I was constantly pulling my phone out of my pocket to check notifications.  Now these get pushed to the Pebble via Bluetooth, and, paired with a Bluetooth earpiece, you can also answer and end calls without ever pulling your phone from your pocket.

Apps for the Pebble fall into three basic categories.  Watch faces, standalone apps, and apps that work with companion apps.  Watch faces are just that; however, they can serve up information like weather data, connection status, and battery percentage.  Standalone apps run on the Pebble only, and companion apps work in connection with an app on the phone.  For example, Evernote can be accessed by Pebble and checklists can even be checked off.

The Pebble is managed through the Pebble app on the phone it is paired to.  There are 8 “slots” for apps on the phone, and the Pebble app features a “Locker” for apps not currently loaded to the phone.  I find this arrangement fine because it only takes a moment to swap out apps.

There are currently two versions of the Pebble available, the original, and the Pebble Steel.  The original Pebble is constructed from polycarbonate, and the Pebble Steel features a stainless body and Gorilla Glass front.  The Pebble currently retails for $99 and the Steel for $199.  I wanted something that was strong, but also affordable, so I went with the original Pebble.  I also swapped out the original band for 20 mm NATO bands from Amazon.

With the newer smartwatches on the market like the Samsung Galaxy Gear and the newly announced Apple Watch, I can’t help but consider the cost.  A phone you can put in a case and protect it in your pocket.  I don’t want to spend $400 on something that is on my wrist and exposed.  I tend to bump my wrist on things.  At $99, the Pebble is easier to replace if it breaks.  That for me is the key, no matter how many bells and whistles you cram on your wrist.