The Pebble became known through a KickStarter campaign in 2012, a particularly profitable campaign since its manufacturer managed to win just over $ 10 million in the space of a few days. However, it was not until last year before it was released. And you know what ? It has been hanging on my wrist for a little over ten days. The time has therefore come to take a serious look at his case.
And we start with the usual thanks since the Pebble in question was loaned to me by Sylvain, from La Montre Bleue . If you are interested in connected watches, I really advise you to take a look at the site, or even on the blog that accompanies it . A blog which also deals with all the news relating to this theme. Ah and if not, there is 5% off the store today, for those who are interested.
To start off in style, we are going to take the time to review the main technical characteristics of the Pebble . Its designers did not communicate much on this subject but the nosy Priice managed to obtain a certain amount of information relating to the technical sheet of the watch.
And here is a summary of the file in question:
- 1.26 inch non-touch E-Ink screen.
- 168 × 144 resolution, for a pixel density of 176 ppi.
- ARM Cortex M3 processor of unknown frequency.
- Bluetooth 2.1 or Bluetooth 4.0 depending on the model.
- 130 mAh battery.
- Accelerometer, vibrator.
- Dimensions: 50.33 x 32 x 8.44 mm.
- Weight: 36 grams.
- Compatibility: iOS and Android.
- Colors: white, gray, black, orange and red.
The Pebble has an operating system that is relatively well-known in the industry since it is FreeRTOS . It was created in 2003 by Richard Barry and its popularity has grown steadily over the years. If you want to know more about its history, or its specifics, you can go see the associated plug on Wikipedia.
Without being a monster of power, the little watch is perfectly responsive and it has not shown the slightest sign of weakness during the last ten days. I also didn't have to complain about any crashes and that's pretty impressive considering that I quickly migrated to the latest beta of the platform (v2.0-BETA8).
It is also important to mention the autonomy of the Pebble since it is a determining criterion when wanting to buy a connected watch. On this side, the rascal was particularly impressive, with an average of between six and seven days of autonomy . Only downside, it does not warn before turning off and it will be necessary to remember to consult from time to time the state of its battery to avoid the dry outage.
In terms of price, know that the Pebble is offered for 150 € at La Montre Bleue, and in most shops around the world.
Design & Ergonomics
Is the Pebble pretty? Frankly, that's hard to say since this is a particularly subjective question. Some will appreciate its lines, others less. Its main flaw, from my point of view, is that it is entirely made of plastic and it looks like it came straight out of the 90s. It is not necessarily a review, since it will not leave indifferent the thirties. Somewhere, it's our Madeleine de Proust just for us.
It is quite massive (not as much as other smartwatches) but it also tends to be forgotten. During these ten days, it did not leave my wrist and I kept it day and night without feeling embarrassed in my movements. The truth is, you get used to his reassuring presence very quickly.
Its strap is quite comfortable. Interestingly, the Pebble is compatible with most bracelets and you can easily go to the local jeweler to change it if necessary. Another peculiarity, the watch is completely waterproof , and able to survive fifty meters deep. She can therefore accompany you in the shower, but also to the swimming pool.
The beauty has four buttons: three on the right side edge, one on the other side. The latter will allow us to go back while the others will allow us to navigate in its menus. On the left, there is also a magnetic connector operating on the same principle as Apple's MagSafe. It will therefore suffice to place the end of the cable supplied with the watch near these connectors to hang it.
It's pretty well thought out, but there are two major drawbacks. The first is that the cable will very easily tend to come loose. It will therefore be better to keep the watch still when we charge it. The other annoying thing is that this is a proprietary connector. I would have preferred Micro USB.
The first thing to do, when taking the Pebble out of its box, will obviously be to pair it with our favorite smartphone. To do so, simply download the official application developed by the manufacturer by going to the AppStore or the Play Store. When it is done, it will be necessary to launch it and start the wizard to then follow the instructions which will appear on the screen.
The procedure is simple, transparent and quick to set up. A few minutes later, your watch and your smartphone will be able to communicate with each other and serious things can then begin.
Basically, the watch incorporates a few dials to allow us to customize the time display. Dials, or “WatchFaces” for the initiated. By pressing the buttons located on the right edge of the watch, we can change the look of our Pebble. Fun, but that's not all because the beauty comes with a few native applications, accessible through its different menus:
- Music: To control the media player of our smartphone. If need be, we can change the application controlled by the watch. The only downside is that the tool will not allow us to jump from one playlist to another. However, there are more complete applications but we will talk about them a little later.
- Notifications: Once the watch is correctly configured, it will automatically display all notifications from our mobile in the form of alerts. It will nevertheless be possible to access the complete history by browsing in this menu.
- Alarms: It's all in the title. It is indeed here that we will be able to configure our various alarms. Silent alarms since they will be based on the vibrator integrated into the watch. Very practical when you have to get up early and do not want to wake up the whole household.
- WatchFaces: The different dials installed on our watch will all be listed in this section. Not much more to say on that side.
- The settings: When we need to change the configuration of our watch without going through the application installed on our smartphone, it is in this menu that we will have to go. There, well we can activate or deactivate Bluetooth, manage our notifications, activate “do not disturb” mode, modify the date, change the time, configure the backlight of the screen, display the firmware version of the Pebble and even turn it off, or reset it. The total, in short.
Other entries will be added to the main menu of the watch depending on the applications we install.
If the Pebble does not have a touch screen, navigation within these different menus is nonetheless very accessible and you get used very quickly to the different commands supported by the watch.
We end with a presentation video that highlights the watch, of course, but also some applications compatible with the first version of the SDK.
The main asset of the Pebble over competing watches is its ecosystem. The beauty has indeed very quickly met with success with developers and she has thus seen the emergence of a certain number of dedicated applications, particularly varied applications which ultimately fall into two groups:
- WatchFaces: As mentioned above, these are in the form of dials allowing you to change the look of the watch. There is obviously something for everyone and there are hundreds of different WatchFaces. Some rather sober, others resolutely futuristic, it is impossible not to find the right fit.
- The applications: This time, things are a little different since the applications are intended to modify the behavior of the watch by adding features. The choice is a little more limited, but you just have to browse a little to find some pearls.
And how do you install WatchFaces or applications? In reality, it all depends on the version of your Pebble. Some of you may know this but the watch designers recently rolled out a new SDK , new firmware, and a new version of their in-house tool . The latter has the good idea of integrating a particularly complete store, an accessible and ergonomic store.
To install new content, all you have to do is go to the dedicated section (WatchFaces or applications) and tap on the tool of your choice. We will then find a button that will allow us to push the associated application on our watch.
The first version of the tool was much less practical since it did not integrate anything apart from a few dials. We therefore had to go through a third-party application such as Pebble Apps or through dedicated sites such as MyPebbleFace to find something to enrich our watch.
I haven't tested all the apps out there, but there are some that caught my attention like the excellent Glance . More than a simple tool, it stands out as a toolkit bringing together a number of features. Through it, it is quite possible to send pre-configured SMS (in English), to have information on its actions and even to display on the screen pending notifications for e-mails, SMS and the calls.
Among the essential tools, we also find the Pebble Notify r. As its name suggests, the latter allows you to finely manage the notifications of the watch, and to choose the applications which will have the right to be heard. Pebble Adventure Navigation also blew me away. To put it simply and to present it in a few words, it will allow you to transform your watch into… GPS. You will have to launch the application, define your destination, choose your means of transport and validate everything so that the instructions appear on the screen, in English.
It is also difficult not to mention Pebble Torch , Watch Trigger , Pebble Bike , Pebble Calendar or Music Boss . Applications downloadable directly from the Play Store, or from the store integrated into the new version of the application.
If you want to see what the latter looks like, here is a little demonstration video.
Update the Pebble on Android
To update the Pebble, there are two solutions: wait for the official update , or proceed with a manual installation and thus opt for a beta version. I had the opportunity to test this method and I must admit that it is rather simple to set up.
If you want to do the same at home, just follow the next steps:
- Go to this address from your terminal.
- Scroll down the page and click on the orange button.
- Identify yourself using your account if you have one.
- Answer in the affirmative to the alert message which appears in a banner.
- The download of the associated APK file will start.
- Wait for it to finish.
- Go to the notification center.
- Tap on the APK file you just downloaded.
- A new window opens.
- Tap on the "Install" button located at the bottom.
- Wait for the installation to complete.
- Tap "Open" to launch the application.
- Log in to your Pebble.
At this stage of the adventure, the latest version of the application has been installed on your terminal, with all the new features it brings. The game is not yet over since you will also have to install the latest version of the watch's firmware for everything to work correctly. Again, the process is not very complicated and you should be fine without too much problem.
- Take your Pebble in hand and turn it over.
- Look at its serial number.
- If it starts with a number, then download this firmware .
- If it starts with the letter “Q”, then download this firmware .
- If it's the Pebble Steel, then download this firmware .
- Wait for the download to complete.
- Check that your Pebble is properly connected to your smartphone.
- Go to the notification center.
- Open the firmware you just downloaded.
- Wait for the installation to complete.
There you go, the deal is in the bag, congratulations!
The time for the final verdict has finally arrived. In terms of design, it is certain, the Pebble will not be to everyone's taste. Some may even find that its finishes leave something to be desired. Fortunately, they will now have the option of heading to the Pebble Steel.
As far as I'm concerned, the only thing that annoyed me, ultimately, was the proprietary connector. Casually, that's still one more cable to carry, a cable that will be added to the charger of the 3DS, that of the Vita, that of the smartphone, that of the camera and that of the laptop when we have to leave our homes for a week's vacation. Swelling.
Okay, but what about the functionality of the watch. There, sincerely, and well we are spoiled for choice and it is rather a good thing because all the connected watches on the market can not boast of having an ecosystem as rich as that of the Pebble. The second version of the SDK should also give life to pretty creations since the developers will have control over more parameters.
The Pebble is a good product, that's for sure and its main asset, ultimately, is its autonomy since it can hold out for a whole week where other watches on the market often struggle to exceed three days.
But here, behind all that, there is also the question of the price and there, it is a whole different story since the basic model is proposed at 150 euros. It's way too expensive considering the materials used, its screen and its technical specifications. Fifty euros less, I think I could have let myself be tempted. Obviously there is the Steel, which will be offered for its part at … 250 euros.
Here again, the price may be a drag and that's a shame. After that, we must also not lose sight of the fact that most connected bracelets are sold over 100 euros, while offering fewer features than the Pebble.