Jan 09 AT 4:58 PM Nick Gray 15 Comments

Hands-on with Pebble – first round production units to ship January 23

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The Pebble team made its first ever CES appearance this morning with a small press event to show off its Pebble smart watch for the first time. Since the Kickstarter project launched, Pebble backers have been kept up-to-date on every little production detail. But don’t worry; we’ll fill you in if you’re not among the 68,929 backers of the project.

For starters, Pebble is finally in production and will start shipping to the first round of backers on January 23. Pebble is ramping up production to 15,000 units per week, which should allow them to get the smart watch onto the wrists of all its backers 6-8 weeks after the January 23 date.

Pebble also showed off the magnetic charging cable for the first time today. The cable features a standard USB connection on one end and a two-pin connector on the other that attaches to the Pebble watch just like Apple’s mag-safe cables. Pebble chose a magnetic cable adapter in an effort to maintain the Pebble’s 5ATM water resistance rating. Consumers don’t need to worry about getting the watch wet while washing dishes or swimming.

A few new features added to Pebble since the project was announced include an ambient light sensor and Bluetooth 4.0. The Pebble team claims that the watch can last up to 7 days, but it will drain your smartphone’s battery by 5-10% every day.

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The device itself is extremely light, though the construction materials look to be high quality. The Pebble may not have a color LCD display like i’m Watch or any of the other smart watches we’ve played with over the past 12 months, but the ePaper display is perfectly visible in direct sunlight.

Since Pebble is not running on Android, the development team has managed to keep the OS extremely light and fluid. Switching between watch faces is easy and intuitive, and controlling music from your phone, answering or dismissing calls, and checking text messages or even Facebook notifications is extremely snappy.

While the Pebble will ship with most of its promised software features, the development team is promising to roll out software updates to the device every 2-3 weeks. Pebble is not scheduled to hit retail outlets any time soon, but if you’re interested in picking one up, you can buy the Android smart watch accessory from getpebble.com

Nick is a tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC and its devices. He started HTCsource.com (the first HTC blog) back in 2007 and later joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

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  • http://www.jaxidian.org/update/ jaxidian

    These are great looking watches although I expected better battery life with e-ink. I guess constant bluetooth connections drain that quite a bit…

    • zerosix

      At $150 it’s quite an expensive toy. MOTOACTV is much more useful and powerful and still costs $150.

      • Krynn

        Hrm. They are two very different products.

        Pebble is mostly a watch with an interface for your phone. It has a battery that will last a week. It is for all intents and purposes waterproof. And the e-ink display is easily readable in full sunlight (as long as you’re not reflecting the sun directly into your eyes).

        MOTOACTV is a standalone sports tracking device, though it can pair with your phone. While it can be used as a watch, most people don’t want to have to charge their watch as often as the MOTOACTV will need – the battery life is only 9 hours (mostly due to the screen and GPS). While it claims it’s “rain resistant”, it relies on flaps to keep moisture out of the case – NOT something you want to go swimming with. The screen has a “daylight mode” where it flips to black and white and maxes the brightness, but the LCD can still be difficult to see in certain conditions. The touchscreen does give you more options for control, but it can get somewhat flaky if you sweat a lot (just wipe your hands first and it’s not a big issue)..

        Last I checked, the 8gb MOTOACTV from most reputable stores was $50 more. And if you want the 16gb version, be prepared to shell out over $300 for it.

        Since I always carry my phone with me in a waterproof case when I’m out running or riding, the Pebble makes much more sense for me. Someone who wants a standalone device may be much happier with the MOTOACTV though. Each to their own.

    • Krynn

      I think there’s two big things that limit the life: the screen refresh rate and the weight.

      From what I’ve read, it can update the screen at 30hz. If you’re making e-ink refresh that fast, you’re going to have to pay the price in power. If you go with a watch face that updates only once a minute, I’m sure the battery usage will be noticeably less. How much so, well, I’ll have to experiment when mine comes in. ;)

      As for the weight, well, the designers wanted to keep it as light as possible. And batteries are heavy. The more power they pack into it, the heavier it gets. I’m guessing they figured that most people would be happy with a one-week battery life. Personally I’d prefer longer, but I can live with a week. At least it’s not just a day!

      Bluetooth 4.0 is extremely power efficient. I’d be surprised if shutting the radio down would get you more than an extra day or two in power… and most of that would probably be from you not using it as much because you’re not getting notifications on it.

  • Nathan D.

    Yes, they are back and looking good still, I’ll like to test on one out myself

  • rivera618

    these things are hideous, they look unfinished, haphazardly put together

    • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

      It actually looks really nice, but I guess the style appeals to me.

    • thel0nerang3r

      Unless you have seen it yourself in person. I don’t know how you can make the claim that it looks haphazardly put together.

      • rivera618

        did you not look at those pictures? just look at the main image, the edges on that grey faceplate look completely unfinished. the clear one looks like it was crazy glued together just before they brought it out. the whole thing is rather unattractive and tough it may be functional and innovative, there’s a lot of room for improvement in the execution IMO

  • Thomas Biard

    I’m so pumped. I didn’t back it at first because I wasn’t sure how big it would be on my tiny wrists, but since my Sis-in-law is getting one, I’ll be able to test fit before I buy.

    I am almost at the point of ordering one just because the functionality is amazing. I like the way they look, and I like how relatively small they are. I know everyone is complaining about how big the bezel is, but look at all the other watches that only fit you if you have a tree trunk for a wrist. This is sleek and very stylish.

    The magnometer is an awesome addition and I look forward to the apps utilizing this. I’m planning on using mine for Run Keeper for my runs and my mountain biking. Music control is awesome too.

  • donger

    Looks a lot better than the Smartwatch by Sony.

  • Jeremy Sheehan

    I wanted one of these and asked my wife to back the Kickstarter campaign. She waited too long. Alas, I won’t be getting on in the next couple of weeks. Makes me a sad pirate.

  • jonstle

    I am still not sold on this device, but I respect the creators for getting things going in this direction. I think the pebble is just a few generations from being really great.

  • E-man

    This looks like a fun little toy and a good alternative to the i’m watch. :)

  • http://genesischess.com/ MJM128

    I can’t wait to get my little rock on my wrist :P

  1. These are great looking watches although I expected better battery life with e-ink. I guess constant bluetooth connections drain that quite a bit…

    • At $150 it’s quite an expensive toy. MOTOACTV is much more useful and powerful and still costs $150.

      • Hrm. They are two very different products.

        Pebble is mostly a watch with an interface for your phone. It has a battery that will last a week. It is for all intents and purposes waterproof. And the e-ink display is easily readable in full sunlight (as long as you’re not reflecting the sun directly into your eyes).

        MOTOACTV is a standalone sports tracking device, though it can pair with your phone. While it can be used as a watch, most people don’t want to have to charge their watch as often as the MOTOACTV will need – the battery life is only 9 hours (mostly due to the screen and GPS). While it claims it’s “rain resistant”, it relies on flaps to keep moisture out of the case – NOT something you want to go swimming with. The screen has a “daylight mode” where it flips to black and white and maxes the brightness, but the LCD can still be difficult to see in certain conditions. The touchscreen does give you more options for control, but it can get somewhat flaky if you sweat a lot (just wipe your hands first and it’s not a big issue)..

        Last I checked, the 8gb MOTOACTV from most reputable stores was $50 more. And if you want the 16gb version, be prepared to shell out over $300 for it.

        Since I always carry my phone with me in a waterproof case when I’m out running or riding, the Pebble makes much more sense for me. Someone who wants a standalone device may be much happier with the MOTOACTV though. Each to their own.

    • I think there’s two big things that limit the life: the screen refresh rate and the weight.

      From what I’ve read, it can update the screen at 30hz. If you’re making e-ink refresh that fast, you’re going to have to pay the price in power. If you go with a watch face that updates only once a minute, I’m sure the battery usage will be noticeably less. How much so, well, I’ll have to experiment when mine comes in. ;)

      As for the weight, well, the designers wanted to keep it as light as possible. And batteries are heavy. The more power they pack into it, the heavier it gets. I’m guessing they figured that most people would be happy with a one-week battery life. Personally I’d prefer longer, but I can live with a week. At least it’s not just a day!

      Bluetooth 4.0 is extremely power efficient. I’d be surprised if shutting the radio down would get you more than an extra day or two in power… and most of that would probably be from you not using it as much because you’re not getting notifications on it.

  2. Yes, they are back and looking good still, I’ll like to test on one out myself

  3. these things are hideous, they look unfinished, haphazardly put together

    • It actually looks really nice, but I guess the style appeals to me.

    • Unless you have seen it yourself in person. I don’t know how you can make the claim that it looks haphazardly put together.

      • did you not look at those pictures? just look at the main image, the edges on that grey faceplate look completely unfinished. the clear one looks like it was crazy glued together just before they brought it out. the whole thing is rather unattractive and tough it may be functional and innovative, there’s a lot of room for improvement in the execution IMO

  4. I’m so pumped. I didn’t back it at first because I wasn’t sure how big it would be on my tiny wrists, but since my Sis-in-law is getting one, I’ll be able to test fit before I buy.

    I am almost at the point of ordering one just because the functionality is amazing. I like the way they look, and I like how relatively small they are. I know everyone is complaining about how big the bezel is, but look at all the other watches that only fit you if you have a tree trunk for a wrist. This is sleek and very stylish.

    The magnometer is an awesome addition and I look forward to the apps utilizing this. I’m planning on using mine for Run Keeper for my runs and my mountain biking. Music control is awesome too.

  5. Looks a lot better than the Smartwatch by Sony.

  6. I wanted one of these and asked my wife to back the Kickstarter campaign. She waited too long. Alas, I won’t be getting on in the next couple of weeks. Makes me a sad pirate.

  7. I am still not sold on this device, but I respect the creators for getting things going in this direction. I think the pebble is just a few generations from being really great.

  8. This looks like a fun little toy and a good alternative to the i’m watch. :)

  9. I can’t wait to get my little rock on my wrist :P