The Only Smartwatch You Should Want Is From a Company That No Longer Exists

For any of you regular Techquila listeners, you'll know that I recently bought a used Pebble Time Round about a month ago and I love this thing.

upload.jpg

Here’s a breakdown as to why you, as an average consumer, should want this smartwatch when compared to any other:
 

Profile

This thing is super slick and super thin. Virtually every other smartwatch out there is about as thick as a bible. If you're into those obnoxiously large Nixon watches then you may not mind, but for the rest of us it's really annoying. And with a  38mm face, this profile is not only more stylish, but far less cumbersome than any other smartwatch out there.

 

Screen

Having an e-ink display may sound like a bad thing, but let me ask you this: why on earth do you want an obnoxiously bright touch screen on your wrist that barely lasts a day?

Aside from being obnoxiously bright a touchscreen that's hardly 2” is just ridiculous. Have you ever tried hitting the “skip” button on the touch screen of a smartwatch while running? It's like playing Whack-a-Mole on your wrist.

Furthermore, the e-ink display allows the watch to always keep the display on without any backlight. Even more importantly the e-ink is much easier on the battery than an LED touchscreen. Because of this the battery lasts up to 2-3 days on a charge.

 

UI

Instead of touching the screen, Pebble watches have 4 buttons used to navigate the systems UI. One back button on the left, a select button on the center right, and up-down buttons on either side of the select button.

In the example I gave earlier (running) the tactile buttons are a god-send. There's no need to play Whack-a-Mole with a touch screen, let alone even look at the watch. It just makes sense. You reach and press the required button to advance the song, pause, or whatever you were trying to do.

Touchscreen watches are just too cumbersome. It doesn't matter how beautiful or slick the UI is. As a user experience it makes MUCH more sense to have tactile input as opposed to using a tiny, tiny touchscreen for input.
 

Style

I've already illustrated this point pretty well, but it bears repeating. This watch is slick and minimalist unlike other smartwatches that stick out like a sore thumb. The faces are super slick and minimalist and pair easily with most outfits assuming you have the appropriate straps. If you don't you can easily find replacement straps on Amazon for cheap (unlike the Apple Watch).

watch-3.jpg

That said I wish this thing came with the same finish that most analog watches in the ≥$200 range came with. Sapphire face (regular glass scratches too easily) and a classier finish (the aluminum build can feel pretty cheap) are the least I ask for at this price-point.
 

Function/apps

This smartwatch does almost everything an Apple Watch, Samsung Gear, or Android Wear watch can do. It has some fun productivity apps that I love using. The only thing it lacks compared to the previously mentioned smart watches is a heart rate monitor (which is a bit over the top for most people anyway).

The one caveat is that now that Pebble was purchased by FitBit any cloud-based services will likely stop working, yet that doesn’t affect most of the apps on this thing.
 

Price

New this thing would run you about $200 when it first dropped. Currently it’s anywhere from $90-$140 on Amazon (new) and can be snagged for as low as $50 on Ebay (used, where I got mine).

Admittedly this may seem like a lot for a watch that doesn’t have a touchscreen, and honestly it is. For that price I would expect a stainless steel build instead of aluminum and a sapphire face to prevent scratching. Considering several chronograph watches have those specifications for well under $200 I don’t think it would be too much to ask for.

That said, compared to the Android Wear, Samsung Gear and especially the Apple Watch pricing, I think this price is well worth it for such great experience and stylish watch

 

But Don’t Buy It...

Now that I’ve whetted your appetite, here’s why you shouldn’t buy a Pebble Time Round and why it was dumb of me to do so (despite only being $50 on ebay).

Pebble was purchased by Fitbit in December of 2016 and has announced that they’re doing away with the product line and the brand altogether. What that means is:

  1. These watches probably won’t be supported beyond 2017
  2. Support will be existent but very limited throughout 2017
  3. Not guaranteed to be compatible with newer iOS and Android releases in the future
  4. Not guaranteed to even function beyond 2017.

 

Keep an eye on Fitbit

If they mix their own, fitness focused, ethos with the tech-eccentric ethos of Pebble, the products they make would be amazing. I get super excited just thinking about it. Long lasting smartwatches, with a button/non-touch UI, even better e-ink display, great app/tech community, AND great fitness tracking? Count me in!

Yet, much to my chagrin, that scenario is looking less and less likely.

According to an anonymous Pebble source (via Wearable.com)

"Everyone on Reddit is saying they're going to make the uber Pebble Vector watch and it couldn't be further from the truth. They have zero interest in that."

More likely? That same anonymous source seems to think Fitbit wants to take on the Apple Watch directly

“it's the Apple Watch competitor and because Apple has a shiny screen, we need a shiny screen."

And the answer is that we won’t know until we see what Fitbit unveils. Something different than the Apple Watch is what consumers want but unlikely what we’ll be getting.

Still, keep an eye on Fitbit and hope for the best.