Pebble Steel is Timeless

Construction
Stainless Steel construction throughout. Gorilla Glass covered watch face and screen.  I’ve (accidentally knocked mine against cubicle walls and doors, and the watch still looks like the day I took it out of the case.  The Pebble is made of plastic. The Galaxy Gear is wrapped in rubber. Other watches available right now are a mish mash of plastic, metal, rubber and glass.

Despite its age – which is approaching a year, and where I would expect Pebble to look at upgrading its hardware in order to stay relevant – I think the Pebble Steel is still the best looking, most durable smartwatch available today. Other entries yet to make it to market, including the <a href=”https://moto360.motorola.com/”>Moto 360</a>, may displace the Pebble Steel when they finally make it to market, but for now, the Pebble Steel is really the best built smartwatch out there.

An OK Price
The cost of Apple’s long rumored iWatch has yet to be determined.   The LG G Watch is rumored to be “under $200.” The Galaxy Gear debuted at $299.99.  At $249.99, the Pebble Steel isn’t dirt cheap, but it’s not outrageously expensive either.  The Pebble, which has the same functionality as the Pebble Steel, is $149.99, which is right in what I will consider the sweet spot.  While the price for both of these is merely, OK, it’s much less than the Samsung offerings and less than the rumored price of the iWatch, which is said to be somewhere between $199.99 and $499.99 (or an average of $349.99).

140106E.Steel-Launch-Pricing

Universal (well, almost)
The Pebble and Pebble Steel are also the only smartwatch that work with both iOS AND Android at the moment.  Android Wear Smartwatches are said to only work with the newest Android phones, though the LG G Watch is said to work with all Android 4.3.x and higher devices.  Microsoft’s fitness band, which will also tell time, is rumored to work with Windows Phone, iOS and Android; but as of early July 2014, the only things know about it are rumor and conjecture at best.  As such, Pebble is the only “universal” or multiplatform offering currently available.

Conclusion
Smartwatches and wearables are a new computing category that has yet to be totally defined by any one product or company (like Apple’s iPod defined portable music players).  Functionality, form factor, technology and cost have yet to be definitively defined.  The category will likely be growing over the next few years.

The nice thing about watches that cost $150 to $500, is that they last a long time and don’t go out of style.  For wearables to work and be a category of device that is seen as value-added, manufacturers are going to need to find the right level of price, functionality and planned obsolescence.  Somehow, I don’t think people are going to want to lay out $200 – $500 for a smartphone and then another $150 to $400 for a companion device every two years.  One of these – either the phone or the wearable – will need to last longer than the standard two year contract/ upgrade cycle.

For now, if you want something that’s going to work for at least a three to four years, the Pebble is a safe bet, I think. Bluetooth 4.x and BT-LE are standards that are going to be around for a while, and the simple relaying of notifications as well as display of popular and much needed information – time, appointments, calls, and weather, for example – are things that are going to provide users with a decent, hardworking wearable that’s priced right, good looking and durable, among other things.

What do you think? Is the Pebble a decent smartwatch? Are you interested in getting one? Do you already have one and have some stories to share?  Are you going to hold out for the iWatch or perhaps one of the newer Android Wear devices?  Is Microsoft’s fitness band something that you’re going to be interested in, as it’s also rumored to work with both iOS and Android devices? Why don’t you log into our commenting engine and give me your thoughts on the smartwatch and wearables situation?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue.

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