Is It Worth Buying a Pebble In Brazil?

Smartwatch that broke record on Kickstarter has been selling for 1 year.
During that time, Pebble gained updates and improved its ecosystem.

Pebble, at the beginning of last year, broke several records in its Kickstarter campaign . Even at the time, there were already several smartwatches, wristwatches that do more than just show the time. Its popularity showed how much people wanted a smartwatch to resemble an ordinary watch, not requiring constant recharges and no flashy design.

It employs the simple philosophy of wanting to get your cell phone out of your pocket, something that used to be trivial. It was not a repeated gesture several times daily, we were not bombarded with emails and notifications all the time. Today, with cell phones getting bigger, it becomes a nuisance, besides generating constant interruptions. Pebble gives you your notifications and gives you the freedom to choose.

In this review, I try to answer the following questions: Is it worth buying a Pebble in Brazil?Does it really help on a day to day basis or is it just a cool little toy? How does it compare compared to the competition? I imported the watch and used it for a week, before and after the great update he received recently, trying to exhaust all his resources. The result you see next.

Design and screen

When I saw Pebble for the first time in its campaign, I thought it would draw a lot of attention because it looked great outside the standards of an ordinary watch. But after putting it on the wrist, it’s amazing how it just disappears. I do not get stares on the street for using it, and it performs the function of showing the hours very well, with the e-paper display always on.

However, it is not exactly a work of art. Considered by many as an ugly duckling, Pebble needed to redesign the watch in a premium version   to please those who need a more aligned accessory. I’ll tell you a bit about that version,  Pebble Steel, later.

The screen frame has a reflective finish, according to Pebble with an “anti-scratch layer”. This layer is one of the main defects of the watch, because it really does not help in almost anything in preventing damage.Any bumps leave a scar, and there are several reports of consumers with disfigured fabrics. With that in mind, I took extreme care, but even that was not enough to prevent minor scratches in a few days of use.

On the display, many had the impression with the Kickstarter campaign that the smartwatch would go out of the factory with an e-ink screen  , like that of digital book readers. That was not the case: what Pebble uses is a low-power LCD, which has its advantages and disadvantages. Although it does not have as good a contrast as  e-ink under the sun, the LCD updates quickly, it is much more responsive than the screen of a Kindle, for example.

It has a resolution of 144 × 168 pixels, only black and white, without grayscale. The viewing angles could be better, and sometimes I think the screen is too small for the frame. There is a certain effort for the screen to appear to be part of it, but it is not perfect, and it would be nice to take some more space.

The bracelet that comes from the factory is not very suitable for a $ 150 clock. It’s not exactly ugly, but it looks like a lower-class product, the same problem as Sony’s SmartWatch 2. Fortunately, it is easily interchangeable: I bought a metal bracelet for 10 reais and it looked much better. Just ask for 22mm bracelets in any watch, and you will have a new face Pebble.

Software

Pebble left the factory with premature software. It always had great potential, but the apps designed for it were decentralized, spread across the App Store, Play Store, and the various sites, and developers had no access to the most basic tools it offers, such as the accelerometer.

With the recent app store, launched shortly after Pebble Steel, all that has changed, and the development suite released to developers along with it has given much more freedom. Now it’s possible to have applications like  Sleep as Android  (Play Store, $ 6.67), which uses data from the clock accelerometer to identify sleep levels and find the best time for you to wake up, as well as generate charts to help you Discover how to improve your sleep.

And all these new apps are easy to find. Despite having a meager selection, Pebble’s new store helps shoppers find what turns a useless watch into a powerful productivity and entertainment tool that goes from sports to good restaurants.

The new store was launched last Monday (3) for Apple iOS, and does not yet have a general public version on Android. I tested the store preview for Android, but both in this and in iOS, it is basically a web page adapted in an application. This is not new, but it is disappointing how poorly optimized the store is today. It is slow and crashes a lot, even in the “stable” version for the iPhone.

Pebble’s menus have taken a design lesson from the old Macs: because the screen is not able to display different colors of black or white, the gradient is made with black dots at different densities, and the effect created is quite ingenious. It’s cool to see current technologies taking lessons from yesteryear.

There is a shortage of native Pebble applications. In addition to four watchfaces, images that show the time and other information, there is only one music controller and one alarm manager, which allows only four alarms at the same time.

This is remedied by external applications, but only eight applications fit into the small internal clock. However, several of these, such as  Glance for Pebble, perform several functions at the same time. It’s disappointing to see Pebble leave the factory without a stopwatch and a countdown timer, which should not be missing from any clock.

Usability

When you take the watch out of the box, any button pressed will turn it on. Once the application is installed, clock recognition is fast and without user intervention, which only confirms the connection. Soon thereafter the watch is ready to decline your calls.

Pebble’s main job is the notifications, and it would be difficult to defend him if he did not have a grouping of them, a central one. Previously to the update, this was what happened. The notifications would appear once and disappear forever. Now we can see each of them again in the menu.

They arrive on the clock with a slight (but easily noticeable) vibration, and are primarily links, SMS and emails. On Android there are options of Hangouts, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger in the settings, and to go beyond that is necessary to download another application. In iOS, all notifications are passed, and if you want to abdicate them on the clock, you must also abdicate them on your phone.

Although it is necessary to download a third-party app on Android to get more notifications, I prefer this method to that of iOS. I can choose exactly what I want on my wrist and my cell phone, with a few seconds of work.

My Pebble battery lasted 4 days on my first charge. It is below the promised 5 to 7 days, but as I was evaluating the watch, the use was significantly heavier.It’s still a very good brand, well above what Galaxy Gear offers.

Inseparable companions

It is only possible to know how much battery is left when it gets weak, and that did not bother me, on the contrary. As one journalist said of Pebble in an analysis, the fact that he did not show the percentage of the battery is liberating in the sense that ignorance inhibits fear.

The function of alarm clocks, although not very customizable, is very interesting. I wake up quickly with Pebble, and I have heavy sleep. It also has a nice point that is to wake you up without necessarily waking your partner, by not emitting a loud sound out. The vibrations in the body, however, sound like a noise to the wearer.

On a daily basis, if I took the watch out of the box and used only the applications that came with it, I would not be satisfied. But the range of possibilities open by external applications makes me do a little bit of everything. Some applications I’ve installed:

PTOTP: Works like Google Authenticator for Android, so I can easily access my accounts that require 2-step verification for OTP. I’ve used the app countless times for my Google account and DigitalOcean, and it works even without my phone connected.

Sleep the Android: I used to consider it a dangerous application, because it required me to leave my cell phone on the bed, and I would certainly knock it down. In combination with the Pebble, it is possible through the accelerometer to generate motion-based sleep charts, and one of the coolest functions of this is not to let the alarm ring when you are in a heavy sleep, ie completely quiescent. He also uses the clock vibrator to wake him up.

Music Boss: The native music control application, although working properly, has few functions. The Music Boss lets you change the volume, remap the buttons, and more.

Glance for Pebble: a highly customizable watchface with weather data, number of emails and missed calls, plus the function of finding the cell phone simulating a link to it. The watch will tell you when you have forgotten your cell phone somewhere when vibrating when Bluetooth is disconnected.

Notification Center for Pebble: Enables better control of notifications. With it, notifications removed from the cell phone are removed from Pebble; Any application can send notifications to the wrist; It can filter unwanted; And be quiet when you’re sleeping, for example.

Hardware

All the time Pebble saves giving his notifications to the wrist would be lost if he had to be removed whenever he washed his hands, for example. It fortunately is waterproof, up to 5 atm, a great value even for ordinary watches.

Go up to 40 meters underwater with your Pebble, just do not expect a good Bluetooth signal

It does not have a touch screen like its competitors, but that does not detract from the user experience. The buttons are responsive, the menus are easily accessed. When I tried on Galaxy Gear, it was hard to get used to the gestures needed to navigate their menus.With Pebble, learning was instantaneous. Everything is intuitive.

The smartwatch features a SoC ARM, a vibration engine, a 130 mAh battery, a low-power Bluetooth 4.0 chip to communicate with the phone, and only. There is no Wi-Ficonnectivity, a microphone, or a camera. This lets the small battery last longer, but also leaves a hole in the features. Often I simply want to not only see that I received an email, but return a short message as well. A microphone and voice recognition would be perfect, but difficult to implement.

MagSafe Magnetic Connector

Your charging cable has magnetic connection, extremely similar to the  MagSafe  fromApple . I wonder even if Pebble is not subject to any lawsuit for that. You can recharge the Pebble with any USB output, and a wall charger is not included.

It takes less than 2 hours to charge the small battery. Speaking of battery life, the impact of Bluetooth 4.0 running all the time on my cell phone was only 1% in no time, as were all applications that also run deep in my cell phone. You can not even tell that something is connected.

Pebble Steel

Recently, a new Pebble model was announced at CES. Increasingly going through a common clock, Pebble’s new iteration does not deliver completely remodeled internal components, better battery life, or anything of the sort. It focuses on the design, the materials employed, and is incredibly similar to any metal watch we see around.

New clothes, same heart

Inside, what changes is only a slightly larger internal memory, but from the factory it does not let people install more than 8 applications. It is speculated that a future upgrade will allow this. In addition to memory, a colorful notification LED has been added, and it can be controlled by developers in their applications. It runs the same applications as the previous version.

Pebble Steel comes with leather and stainless steel bracelets in silver or black. It really looks a lot more professional, the front glass is Gorilla Glass and looks more sturdy and durable. But all this comes at a price: $ 100 more than the already salted Pebble of $ 150. At $ 250, the new version of smartwatch runs the same applications as the previous one, in a much more refined package.

How to buy

Currently, the only way to acquire Pebble officially in Brazil is by importing it through the company’s website,  GetPebble.com . It costs $ 150 plus freight. There is a free shipping option, but it is important to note that it is highly subject to misplacements and takes months. It’s similar to buying something from China. It offers a lesser chance of being taxed on the gadget, but I would not risk it.

The freight per courier is $ 25 and takes only 5 business days at most to arrive. Pebble declares the real value to customs, so the chance of being taxed is extremely high. This tax is approximately 110%. So you pay $ 367.50 for the watch, something around $ 900. It’s not a cheap value, but it looks like it compares to Pebble Steel: $ 1,450.

There are no official resellers in Brazil, nor the company’s plans to sell the watch here. $ 900 is a very salable value for smartwatch, but there are always deals like free express shipping on the site, and a price drop is expected at any time because resellers have recently started offering discounts.

Also, when the price is compared to its competitors, Galaxy Gear and SmartWatch 2, it does not look so ugly. The suggested value for sale of both locally is respectively R $ 1,299 and R $ 999. They are found, however, with a value lower than those in the market.

Negative points

  • Limited hardware.
  • Low resolution screen.

Strengths

  • Light, discreet, goes through an ordinary clock.
  • Long battery life.
  • The notification and alarm functions are extremely useful.
  • Compatible with Android and iOS.

Conclusion

No wonder a small startup has managed to tame such a competitive market, including big names. Pebble is a product to be admired, serving as a model for future smartwatches. It is simple, and that is the key to your success.

Of course he, at the current price in Brazil (or even out there), is not in the impulse buying zone. As Paulo Higa stated in  the Sony SmartWatch 2 review , if you do not wear a wristwatch these days, it may not be for you as it is also far from indispensable.

But what makes it a better choice, in my opinion, to clocks like SmartWatch 2, is the large developer community, the numerous applications, the ability to choose how it shows the hours, intuitive and fast navigation. It does not need a color screen, but rather it does not generate worries, like having to take it while swimming or putting it in the socket every day, as if it has to do with the Galaxy Gear.

It is difficult, however, to justify the price of Pebble. The components by themselves are very cheap. I very much hope, for the good of the company, that much of that money is going to R & D, because it will be difficult to compete with the big fish when they finally get the revenue. And they will, and soon.