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Hands-on: Pebble's new high-end Steel smart watch for iPhone

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Ahead of its launch later this month, the new Pebble Steel smart watch is on display at this week's Consumer Electronics Show, and AppleInsider went hands-on with the highly anticipated new wrist-worn iPhone accessory.

Pebble


Just announced this week, the new $250 Pebble Steel aims for the higher end of the smart watch market, sporting a more premium metal look than its predecessor, and gaining a scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass face. Both Pebble Steel and classic Pebble owners will also gain access to the all-new Pebble appstore, which will serve up new wrist watch functions for users.

In our time with the new Pebble Steel, we found that the screen feels much clearer through the Gorilla Glass than it does on our own plastic version. However, representatives with Pebble told us that underneath the glass, the screen is identical on both models.

The bracelet on the Steel feels light and comfortable. However, we're still bothered by the large "Pebble" logo on the glass below the screen -- in our view, the product could have been much more subtle had they not included their name on the front.

Pebble


The Pebble team are big believers in the product, and also in the philosophy that this is the second step in a long road for their company. Specifically, they believe the wrist is an integral part of a sort of "personal network" of devices.

It's interesting to note that Pebble shared a CES 2014 booth at the Venetian Suite in Las Vegas, Nev., with Lockitron, a keyless home entry device that sits on top of an existing home deadbolt lock switch. Lockitron is a perfect example of the Pebble philosophy and growing ecosystem, as the company added support for the Pebble smart watch last fall, allowing users to lock or unlock their door using their watch.

Pebble


Other recently announced Pebble partnerships include Mercedes Benz, ESPN, Yelp, GoPro, Foursquare, Pandora, and iControl. And a new Pebble Canvas app will allow users to make custom watch faces without the need to create them on a computer.

Preorders for the Pebble Steel are set to ship Jan. 28, while the Pebble appstore and new 2.0 firmware should launch for classic Pebble users around the same time.
post #2 of 27
For a "hands-on" review, this was decidedly not very hands-on. It looks like a republished press blurb (not even a full release).

How does it work with iOS, what apps does it offer, what other apps are available? Of course you can't answer this, because it hasn't even shipped yet. But that begs the question: "Does simply touching it at a trade show booth really make for a "hands-on" review?
post #3 of 27
how was this a review at all? its just a few pictures and a note that the screen looks clearer through the glass vs plastic..??
post #4 of 27

Yep. Thx. Don't want too sound negative, but I'll wait for Apple's take on a watch! :)

 

Best.


Edited by christopher126 - 1/10/14 at 8:39am
post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacGizmo View Post

For a "hands-on" review, this was decidedly not very hands-on. It looks like a republished press blurb (not even a full release).

How does it work with iOS, what apps does it offer, what other apps are available? Of course you can't answer this, because it hasn't even shipped yet. But that begs the question: "Does simply touching it at a trade show booth really make for a "hands-on" review?

AI uses a verrrry loose definition of the term "hands-on".  "Hands" can also be used to refer to "eyes".  I'm too lazy to do a search, but I think if you track down their "hands-on" of the newest Mac Pro, there's even less than this.

 

That being said, this actually is about all I expect out of a hands-on, regardless of the site.  There's a good chance these aren't production models, so a true review wouldn't be fair or useful to anyone.  But really, go find that Mac Pro one.  You'll lol and lol and lol.

post #6 of 27
As a current Pebble owner, printing the company the name on the front of the Pebble Steel is a deal breaker.
Fugly.
post #7 of 27
Quite a nice looking device, an improvement on the original plastic version. For what it is, it looks quite discrete, especially in black.
post #8 of 27
I would actually really like an iwatch from apple but this thing is just hideous. What's taking apple so long??
post #9 of 27
I prefer my Seiko Arctura Automatic - no batteries, no winding, no plugging it in. It tells the time and date. I wear it because it's a great looking piece of jewelry and it functions as it's supposed to. I think that a lot of people wear watches for exactly the same reason. It's not just a functional thing - it's an accessory like clothing or other jewelry is.

I'm sure there are people who just want function in a watch, but I don't see the smart watch as being the huge market that some companies are thinking it will be.
post #10 of 27

They need a real designer to work on this if it is to appeal beyond the geeky set.

post #11 of 27
It's not for iPhone. It works with iPhone. Also works with android. Not that I'd buy one either way. Stamping your brand name in ugly don't right on the bezel is decidedly low end.
post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by darthW View Post

I would actually really like an iwatch from apple but this thing is just hideous. What's taking apple so long??

I'm looking fwd to it, too, darthW! :)

 

I would guess, they probably want to make sure it "compliments" the Apple eco-system! :)

post #13 of 27

"Hands-on" is just one problem with the title.  "High-end"??  $250?  Does this guy use margarine on his toast?

post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmgregory1 View Post

I prefer my Seiko Arctura Automatic - no batteries, no winding, no plugging it in. It tells the time and date. I wear it because it's a great looking piece of jewelry and it functions as it's supposed to. I think that a lot of people wear watches for exactly the same reason. It's not just a functional thing - it's an accessory like clothing or other jewelry is.

I'm sure there are people who just want function in a watch, but I don't see the smart watch as being the huge market that some companies are thinking it will be.

 

Of course people that wear watches now only wear them for jewelry.  That's just about all they are good for, given that your smartphone has a clock on it.  Pulling a phone out of pocket is not that big of an inconvenience unless you are anxious about something and checking the time every minute.  Leaving aside athletes that use their watches for timing purposes, my hunch is that the vast majority of us who wear watches would not do so if we didn't consider them a fashion accessory of sorts.  But...

 

We should probably wait until we see what functions come with the new watches, especially Apple's take, before we reach any conclusions.  Either that, or start using our imagination and realize that there is probably something in this smart-watch concept that will rapidly move from "nice-to-have" to "must-have" for many people.  As in, "how did we ever do without this?"

 

After all, before Henry Ford, people just wanted a faster horse.

post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by darthW View Post

I would actually really like an iwatch from apple but this thing is just hideous. What's taking apple so long??

Apple probably has some extremely ambitious goals in terms of form, function, and performance, and they want to get it right before they let it loose.  After they do, my guess is that you'll say, "oh, that's what took so long!" 

 

Thompson

post #16 of 27

The iWatch has to be more than just a viewer. Its one thing to receive push notifications to a wrist-worn display....but I need to receive iMessage and Email, hear the tones through the Watch, see the message scroll across (text and image), and be able to respond directly via Siri/Dictation power from an easy-to-reach dedicated button on the watch.

 

And the pure geek in me wants to be able to answer incoming calls....

post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by thompr View Post

Apple probably has some extremely ambitious goals in terms of form, function, and performance, and they want to get it right before they let it loose.  After they do, my guess is that you'll say, "oh, that's what took so long!" 

Thompson
Let's hope so.
post #18 of 27
I have come to the conclusion that the problem with all these smart watches is that they try to be a watch that does other things. Thus forcing them to be ugly.

How about a communications device that is worn on the arm that also happens to tell the time? Might free up conceptual design. Within a year all smart watches would look like the first one to manage that. You know, sort of like a computer that fits in your pocket that also happens to work as a phone changed the smartphone world.
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post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post
 

Yep. Thx. Don't want too sound negative, but I'll wait for Apple's take on a watch! :)

 

Best.

 

The beauty of Apple is that whatever they do, the watch function will be a very very small portion of what the device can do. And that is what the me too companies are having nightmares with.

post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Danox View Post
 

 

The beauty of Apple is that whatever they do, the watch function will be a very very small portion of what the device can do. And that is what the me too companies are having nightmares with.

Yep, Danox, it's going to be very interesting to see how Apple's approaches this! :)

 

Best

post #21 of 27
Design

The problem with many USA companies us that their design is bad. Think of Kodak with their large ugly boxes that cost them all. The same is happening with these watched. They are again boxes. Ugly boxes. Samsung tried to be with the first but they may be able to design their washing machines but not watches.

I wait for Apple to show us how the design should be. A simple silver box will not do!
post #22 of 27
That crap will end up in the $9.99 bin at Best Buy soon enough. Pebble is trying their best to make us believe that sh** is the holy grail.
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Entropys View Post

I have come to the conclusion that the problem with all these smart watches is that they try to be a watch that does other things. Thus forcing them to be ugly.

How about a communications device that is worn on the arm that also happens to tell the time? Might free up conceptual design. Within a year all smart watches would look like the first one to manage that. You know, sort of like a computer that fits in your pocket that also happens to work as a phone changed the smartphone world.

Precisely.
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post #24 of 27
I'm waiting for the iWatch as are probably most sensible people who don't want to waste their money on the usual suspects who have no clue about good design.
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacGizmo View Post

For a "hands-on" review, this was decidedly not very hands-on. It looks like a republished press blurb (not even a full release).

How does it work with iOS, what apps does it offer, what other apps are available? Of course you can't answer this, because it hasn't even shipped yet. But that begs the question: "Does simply touching it at a trade show booth really make for a "hands-on" review?

It was pretty clear that they're still working on firmware and the Pebble 2.0 appstore is not completely finished. There's no sense in our being critical when they haven't shipped it to consumers yet.

 

The iOS Pebble appstore appears to take the form of another part of the iOS Pebble app, and you select apps to install to the watch from there just as you do watch faces today. The appstore will be searchable, and is divided up into categories like Daily, Fitness, Remotes, etc. so you can find what you're looking for.

 

We hope to have a full review when it's actually shipping.

 

Simply touching it at the trade show can help us say, "does it feel good, does it feel like they're on the right path, will it be worth reviewing critically when released?" Here, we know that they have strong partnerships with Mercedes-Benz and are able to lock and unlock doors from Pebble, that Lockitron will allow us to lock and unlock our home doors from Pebble - so yes, it feels like they're on the right path. It'll be worth reviewing.

 

I just wish I didn't have to look at their branding quite so large on the crystal. I know I bought a Pebble, do I need to be reminded of it?

post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmz View Post
 

The iWatch has to be more than just a viewer. Its one thing to receive push notifications to a wrist-worn display....but I need to receive iMessage and Email, hear the tones through the Watch, see the message scroll across (text and image), and be able to respond directly via Siri/Dictation power from an easy-to-reach dedicated button on the watch.

 

And the pure geek in me wants to be able to answer incoming calls....

 

 

Please look at the Omate TrueSmart. You can have Android 4.2.2 and a micro SIM on your wrist. Place and take all the calls you like. Sideload Google Now / Google Search and you should be able to use Google's voice prompts to place those calls.

post #27 of 27
It's looks clunky to me. The watch face is much too big relative to the display, which is made worse by the logo on the face pushes everything off centre.

I like the concept and category, but Apple needs to enter this space and quickly so we have a stable, iOS-like platform for good development ideas to flourish.

Firstly we need to decide if the smart watch is something that pushes biometric data to the phone, or something that replaces taking your phone out of your pocket (or a combination of the two).
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