On Pebble's New Lineup

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 4 min read

Let me get this out of the way up front: I like Pebble a lot. I don't use one currently because the Apple Watch has taken over all the jobs I used my Pebble for, but I still think they make good products and they are absolutely the best wearables for a certain group of people right now. The company likes to compare themselves to Swatch, and the comparison is apt. They're not making a super fancy $400+ smart watch, they're making a fun, affordable smart watch that is just a little off the mainstream.

That's why I was excited to see what the company was announcing today. I was expecting to see a single new product from them, but I was surprised when they showed off 3 brand new products, and of course put them on Kickstarter. If you haven't read up on what's new, check out their Kickstarter page. I'm going to break each one down from most interesting to least.

Pebble Core

This is not what I saw coming at all, but it's fucking brilliant. They pitch it as "a clippable fitness device that lets you leave your phone at home" and that's a pretty enticing pitch for someone like me with a massive iPhone 6s Plus and is tired of it dragging his shorts down every time he goes for a run. I do have an Apple Watch and could technically run just it, but there are 2 major compromises:

  1. No GPS
  2. No podcasts

The Pebble Core solves at least one and maybe both of these problems, and makes it a really compelling device. It has honest-to-goodness GPS on board, and can run workout apps like Strava and Runkeeper will be able to track your runs/walks/bike rides just as well as your phone. This is amazing, and almost makes me buy one on the spot.

As for podcasts, the Pebble Core doesn't solve this directly, but it does have the ability to sync Spotify playlists over to the device for listening on the run. It's not ideal, and I don't currently have a Spotify subscription, but I'm curious to see how this works in practice, but if it works well, color me excited.

Overall, the Pebble Core looks like the perfect device for some people. I'm dangerously close to that demographic and expect I'll own one of these before the end of the year.

I should also note that Pebble is making a model of this available "for hackers" that they want people to run wild with. I'm very interested to see where Pebble's enthusiastic development community does with this.

Pebble Time 2

The Pebble Time 2 is the same physical size as the original Time , but there's more screen this time. The bezels are smaller, meaning you get over 50% more screen with is aces. The bezels look pretty similar in size to those on the Apple Watch, which I'm okay with. It's a big improvement over the original.

They didn't say much about the software other than that it's getting the second version of their timeline OS. This is what I really want to see, but I guess that's not ready for prime time yet1.

They did note that there is not a heart rate monitor and fitness tracking is built in, so you won't have to download a third party app like Misfit anymore. That's great, and is one of the best aspects of smart watches, so it's good to see Pebble get in this game.

I still don't think the Pebble Time 2 looks very good, despite the better screen-to-bezel ratio. It looks cheap compared to the Apple Watch, but it also costs about half as much as the Apple Watch, so that's to be expected. If you have an iPhone and want a smart watch that's less than $150, this is definitely something to consider.

Pebble 2

This is the first true sequel to the Pebble that started it all, but sadly I think it's the least interesting product in the lineup. It still has a black-and-white screen, it still costs just over $100, and it still looks ugly as sin.

It did also get the heart rate monitor and fitness tracking built in, which makes is a very capable $99-129 smart watch. From that perspective, it's a unique product, but I really can't get over that ugly beast. You really have to want to own it if you're going to rock this thing, and I'm not ready to own it.

I go to sleep tonight impressed with Pebble's announcements. The fitness tracking features are a solid addition to both lines, and I could see them drawing in a larger audience with them. They're not for me, but there's really nothing Pebble could have done to win me over.

That Pebble Core is quite the surprise, though! It's $69 if you buy it now through Kickstarter (there were still some left as of writing this), and even at $99 I think it's a compelling, unique product that came out of left field. Nice job, Pebble.

  1. If it is, please let me know. I never love Pebble's UI, but they do have a couple good ideas.