Pebble SmartWatch Hardware Review

Pebble SmartWatch Hardware Review

Jan 9, 2014

Wearable tech is all the new rage. From Google Glass to the Galaxy Gear, everyone seems to want a piece of the on person action. Now, sadly we haven’t seen any Android powered belts buckles or tennis shoes quite yet, but we have seen an affordable but amazing SmartWatch called the Pebble. The product of a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, this independent Palo Alto, CA company developed a SmartWatch which costs way less than the Galaxy Gear but sports many of the same capabilities. Additionally, as a wrist watch, it has comfort, functionality and style.

In light of Pebble announcing the Pebble Steel at CES 2014 just recently, the regular Pebble SmartPhone is still an awesome option. A year after its initial release, the Pebble SmartWatch is available at retailers such as Best Buy or online at Amazon. It’s capable of interacting with both iOS and Android via BlueTooth, though Android is where it really takes the cake. It also comes it at a much lower cost than the Samsung SmartWatch, and even the Pebble Steel comes in about $50 less than its Samsung competition.


The watch itself may come off as unimpressive and a cheap knock off at first. The LED watch only appears in grayscale, lacking bright colors on the display. The colors on the Pebble is on the device itself, with the outline area around the screen coming in any of the 5 colors offered. The Pebble also lacks out of box, many of the popular features that a First Party device would have, such as the ability to answer one’s phone via the watch.

But where the Pebble SmartWatch really comes to life, is through the various first and third party apps that exist for the device. The PEbble SmartWatch prides itself on being an opensource device, with information on their website as to how to develop for the watch. Many of these third party apps add in functionalities such as the ability to answer the phone, to adding a calendar, pedometer, the ability to control the music on one’s phone, or a whole mess of other features. Pandora and some other apps are also coming to the PEbble SmartWatch, as announced at CES 2014. These apps give the watch more functionalities than other wearable tech items, while still looking cooler on your wrist and your wallet.


Setting up the device with an Android phone takes almost no time at all. Much like many BlueTooth devices, it’s important to make sure both are discoverable, but I was able to go from unboxing the phone to having it work properly to read a test text from my wife in about 5 minutes. It also has an impressive range with which it will still notify the wearer of any activity on their phone. I was able to get notification of my wife calling me from when I was across the office.

This device is capable of really giving a user a true hands free experience. The particular app I downloaded to answer the phone will actually answer the phone in speaker mode. This device will also send your emails, text messages, Google Hangout notifications and even Facebook replies to your watch. There’s also apps that will send Twitter notifications to your Pebble, as well as many other notifications and utilities. The Pebble Watch does seem to have it all.


The Pebble SmartWatch is probably one of the better devices out there in terms of cost, functionality, usability, operations and overall cool factor. Out of the box, it may not look like much, but an open source device always has an army of ambitious and smart people behind it. The Pebble is no exception to that, boasting a wide array of difference watch faces and apps that will do just about anything. Once you get your hands on one of these devices, it may be hard to imagine what life was like without it.

You can find more information about the Pebble, or purchase it here.

KickStarter Spotlight: Vachen

KickStarter Spotlight: Vachen

May 15, 2013

One of the next big (or small) things in tech is bound to be smart watches, and all thanks can be directed toward the KickStarter darling; the Pebble ePaper Watch. With rumors of Apple and others stepping into the ring this is one product category that is bound to get serious. As is usually the case, small developers are a step ahead of their larger, corporate counterparts and a slew of smart watches are starting to appear across the internet. Pebble set the look with its big, friendly design and ePaper display and it was only a matter of time before a higher end, fashion oriented competitor emerged. Correctly assuming that the most stylish members of society would probably be repulsed by adorning their wrists with a hunk of plastic, Won Rhee of San Ramon, California has come out with the first smart watch that looks more like a Breitling than a Medical Alert bracelet.

The watch, named Vachen, breathes class in its KickStarter video, promo photos, and quality of construction materials. This is definitely a watch for that lawyer uncle that already has a tie for every occasion and a head cover for every club. But, moving past the varied, and classic visuals; when looking at the Vachen’s software it is obvious that it has borrowed heavily from Apple’s older square iPod Nano in making each icon big and leaving the screen as clutter-free as possible. The main draw here, unlike with Pebble, is that Vachen is supposed to be a watch first and foremost, albeit a watch that can change faces at a beckoning tap. This is to ensure that no matter what situation the wearer finds themselves in their watch will always look appropriate and aptly accent any outfit. Behind the watch face, however, is a plethora of pre-installed apps that display notifications from a connected phone, a stop watch and alarm, and even a compass.


Like most smart products nowadays there will be an open app store which means that the uses for the Vachen smart watch are practically limitless. It might not be in everyones budget but I have no doubt that a consumer niche does exist and they will surely be enough to make this a successful product for years to come, and it will be interesting to see if Vachen can grow their brand to rival established fashion juggernauts.

Kickstarter Spotlight: Pebble

Kickstarter Spotlight: Pebble

Apr 18, 2012

Unlike most of the past Kickstarter projects that we have featured here on Android Rundown, the amazing Pebble watch is in no way in need of more financial support. In fact, if the project closed today, the Palo-Alto-based Pebble Technology would be awarded nearly $3.5 million more than their initial goal. The more astounding part is that this is merely just the beginning; the project still has almost a month remaining. It little less than a week, the Pebble watch has become the highest ever earning project on Kickstarter. To be fair, it helps that Pebble already has a working model in the wild for BlackBerry which has built a solid fan base with plenty of envious friends just waiting for the inevitable announcement of a model for Android and iOS.

For those who aren’t aware and don’t feel like reading the Kickstarter project page; Pebble is a watch that, through bluetooth, connects to any Android or iPhone and can be customized through downloadable apps that do anything from controlling music to display pace data for that morning jog. The advantage is that instead of reaching for a phone, all this information is instantly available at a glade on the user’s wrist. This is huge for runners and bikers, because instead of fumbling around for a phone and fidgeting with unlocking it a quick glance at the wrist displays time elapsed, distance travelled, and average speed. Also, other features that one would expect such as text message and email alerts and previews as well as caller ID. I know personally caller ID on my watch would be an amazing luxury because I am constantly leaving my phone is different rooms and missing calls because of it. Unfortunately, this leaves no excuse for not picking up the phone.

In my opinion, Pebble’s most necessary and valuable feature might also be its most overlooked. The screen is a technology called E-Paper which is a black and white e-ink style display meaning that it is fully readable in direct sunlight, just as what is used on e-readers. This means that even on a sunny day text messages are clear and readable, which is not always the case with fingerprint-caked smartphone screens. As if there needs to be more good news, an SDK is already available; user-generated content, as shown before, is never a bad thing. For any users of the great website, the Pebble watch also supports those notifications and alerts.

Even though the Pebble watch won’t be going on sale for a while and the $150 price tag may be a little steep (though by supporting the Kickstarter, the watch can be had for less), there appears to be no shortage of deserved hype and excitement for this amazing little watch.