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Hands-on impressions with Pebble's high-end Steel smartwatch

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Over one year after the original Pebble shipped, the eponymous smartwatch firm is out with a second version of its device that melds the same smartphone-connected platform with looks more fitting of a traditional timepiece.

Pebble Steel


In January, AppleInsider was able to take a hands-on look at the second-generation Pebble, dubbed the Pebble Steel, and came away impressed with the device's fit and finish. With an example finally in-hand, we can say that it is the best implementation of a "dressy" smartwatch to date.

Pebble Steel is one of the first devices in the sector to successfully move away from unconventional designs that made the term "smartwatch" synonymous with "geeky." The new wearable uses the same hardware as the original Pebble and runs the same updated Pebble 2.0 OS with app store access, but puts the high-tech package in a case you can wear with a tailored suit.

Pebble Steel


The Steel is also the first in what appears to be a trend in the sector. Upcoming products from smartwatch makers, like a collaborative effort from Meta and Frank Nuovo, boast fashion-forward designs in an effort to make the devices more palatable to the mainstream consumer.

As mentioned above, the Pebble Steel features the same internals as the original version, with a few exceptions in new button actuators and a redesigned charging port. The Steel also features a new tri-color LED, which indicates system notifications and charging status. This is especially helpful, since the old Pebble and original Pebble OS made it difficult to tell when battery life was nearing its end.

Pebble Steel


Exterior enhancements, however, are what sets the Steel apart from other smartwatch offerings. True to its name, the latest Pebble uses a stainless steel tonneau case, Gorilla Glass 2 and a proprietary lug shape that accepts either a leather strap or stainless bracelet. Both strap options are included in the box.

Aside from being less prone to scratches, the Gorilla Glass makes a significant difference in clarity. Compared to the plastic used to cover the original Pebble's screen, the Steel is far more transparent. The bottom chin of the screen has "Pebble" silkscreened on it. Originally, we thought this would bother us, but it turns out that the graphic is almost imperceptible.

Pebble Steel


What does bother us are the details. The stainless steel bracelet is made of folded links like those made in the 1960s and 1970s. The assembled watch with band is light and feels good on the wrist. However, there is a serious lack of heft that some may equate to cheapness.

The bezel surrounding the display has a sharp edge, not so sharp as to cut ourselves, but enough for it to feel like running a finger over a knife-edge sideways to judge the sharpness of the blade.

Despite these minor drawbacks, we feel like Pebble is just coming into its own.
post #2 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Despite these minor drawbacks, we feel like Pebble is just coming into its own.

I see it as the BlackBerry of the smartwatches. I think the technology is about to come into itself and if one vendor actually puts all the tech together in the right way we'll see this market explode and Pebble, despite their efforts, will be left far behind.

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post #3 of 22
Lame warmup act just setting the stage. iWatch is going to blow minds in contrast. It'll be like looking at phones before iPhone and after. "Revolutionary"
post #4 of 22
Hey, this can be equated with cheapness, because it is cheapness. For a smart watch, it's pretty cheap, so the hardware is cheap. Does anyone expect a $50 SS band on this watch? Really, this is a $5 Chinese band, just like all the other cheap Chinese bands you can buy from mainland manufacturers on EBay.

It's also still pretty ugly. Quite frankly, it looks like it's worth a total of $50.
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Nearly two years after the original Pebble shipped, 

 

The original Pebble shipped in January 2013, it's only been just over a year.  The Kickstarter was in April/May 2012 however.  

post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Hey, this can be equated with cheapness, because it is cheapness. For a smart watch, it's pretty cheap, so the hardware is cheap. Does anyone expect a $50 SS band on this watch? Really, this is a $5 Chinese band, just like all the other cheap Chinese bands you can buy from mainland manufacturers on EBay.

It's also still pretty ugly. Quite frankly, it looks like it's worth a total of $50.

 

This doesn't have much heft, then again it's a few thousand dollars worth of solid titanium Swiss watch.

 

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Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
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post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post
 

 

This doesn't have much heft, then again it's a few thousand dollars worth of solid titanium Swiss watch.

 

 

I see you chose to use grey buttons in the finder.

 

Oh and the watch is interesting too :P

post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post

I see you chose to use grey buttons in the finder.

Looks like Safari to me. Top left: close, - & + Below that <> Below that Bookmarks & Show Top Sites. Couple of tabs opened.

Way OT here, so I watched it closely.
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post #9 of 22
Meh.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The bezel surrounding the display has a sharp edge, not so sharp as to cut ourselves, but enough for it to feel like running a finger over a knife-edge sideways to judge the sharpness of the blade.

 

This may not be an issue in always-sunny-short-sleeve-casual-California, but I learned the hard way that a sharp edge on a watch case will do a really good job of fraying the sleeve cuff of an expensive dress shirt.

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post #11 of 22
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Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post


Looks like Safari to me. Top left: close, - & + Below that <> Below that Bookmarks & Show Top Sites. Couple of tabs opened.

Way OT here, so I watched it closely.


I saw it but I meant that he selected the grey option in your window settings

post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post

I saw it but I meant that he selected the grey option in your window settings

Ah, ok. But can one make the Windows something other than grey? I just tried to set it to Blue, but can't imagine it'll need a reboot / re-log-in to come in effect...

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post #13 of 22
If it's usability outweighed it's grotesqueness, then I would at least consider one. But as of today the numbers are far on the other end of that equation. I would rather own the plastic one, at least that one does not pretend to be anything other than junk.
post #14 of 22
FUGLY
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Hey, this can be equated with cheapness, because it is cheapness. For a smart watch, it's pretty cheap, so the hardware is cheap. Does anyone expect a $50 SS band on this watch? Really, this is a $5 Chinese band, just like all the other cheap Chinese bands you can buy from mainland manufacturers on EBay.

It's also still pretty ugly. Quite frankly, it looks like it's worth a total of $50.

Yeah, it's ugly as sin. It reminds me of all tablets before the iPad.
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"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
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post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

Yeah, it's ugly as sin. It reminds me of all tablets before the iPad.

It is pretty ugly but there is a Pebble SDK and appstore. Excluding all personal bias, does this make this a smartwatch, even if one could consider it the BlackBerry in 2008 of smartwatches?

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #17 of 22
Why would anyone purchase this when it looks like a Casio from the 1980's hahaha

Make me a watch with the COLOR (not black & white) and clarity of my television and you've got my $
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by raphoroni View Post

Why would anyone purchase this when it looks like a Casio from the 1980's hahaha

Make me a watch with the COLOR (not black & white) and clarity of my television and you've got my $

A color LCD would hurt battery life too much. In a weird way the one thing Pebble has going for it compared to the Sony and Samsung "smartwatches" is the smaller and lighter size compared to its duration of use.

I think this is where Apple could heavily consider AMOLED display and their switch in iOS7 to a thinner font may be the forerunner to a such a display on a wearable computer since with AMOLED only the non-black parts are using any power. You also get a true black, not that blue color with a black border like you see with eInk in the picture up top.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

It is pretty ugly but there is a Pebble SDK and appstore. Excluding all personal bias, does this make this a smartwatch, even if one could consider it the BlackBerry in 2008 of smartwatches?

Sure; it has smartwatch functionality, but I hate the implementation. Also, just in terms of basic functionality, I think they're missing a few tricks. But they are an interesting company with lots of potential.
"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
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"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
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post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post


Ah, ok. But can one make the Windows something other than grey? I just tried to set it to Blue, but can't imagine it'll need a reboot / re-log-in to come in effect...

No, it's just for the small buttons close/minimize/maximize

post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post

No, it's just for the small buttons close/minimize/maximize

Poor choice of wording then: 'Windows'.
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I’d rather have a better product than a better price.
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post #22 of 22

I don't get why people are so bitter about the Pebble & Pebble steel.
Apple doesn't make an iWatch, if they do decide to make a watch, if not another wearable device, then you have more choice, until then, be quiet, if you want a smart watch, you can get a pebble or a Samsung Galaxy Gear 1 or 2, No iWatches to buy.
I have a Pebble, if Apple brings an iWatch out, guess what, if it has good features at a reasonable price, i'll pounce on it, until then, Pebble is actually pretty kickass, i don't check my phone as often, its a win. 

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