back to article Pebble Time Steel ready in May. Plus: Now you can strap on sensors, GPS ... Geiger counter

Pebble is opening up its eponymous smartwatch to third-party hardware makers. They’ll be able to build straps or other attachments that that can provide a range of additional functionality to a Pebble – such as specialist sensors for fitness or medical tasks – or just additional power. It’s a very Pebble way of doing it – keep …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WTF is that glare in the last image?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Overhead lights. The photo was taken at the World Mobile Congress - a trade show.

      1. John Tserkezis

        "The photo was taken at the World Mobile Congress"

        This (glare) is a very good thing, and actually raises my respect for the product. It's real.

        The alternative is to create CGI images of a product - which has become synonymous with vapourware. Are you listening Apple?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          ePaper with a glare (from Gorilla Glass screen)... not excellent.

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Don't most watches, smart and dumb, have a shiny transparent cover to their display and/or hands? Otherwise you can't play the fun game of reflecting the sun into someone's eyes using your watch.

  2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Light years ahead of competition

    It is still light years ahead of the competition.

    Compared to that the "last a whole day one one charge" can only make me laugh.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Light years ahead of competition

      The competition have more features. If you want a connected watch with fewer features than the Pebble, there are Bluetooth watches that last over a year without charging or a battery change.

      It's up for consumers to pick their own sweet spot on the features against battery life graph.

      You've found yours at five days - and I agree that only charging every couple of days (so leaving yourself a couple of days margin) doesn't sound like too much hassle - and that's good.

  3. Nick L

    "We apologize, but it looks like something's gone wrong"

    "Gateway Timeout" on when trying to authorise a payment. Bit crappy, really: had the same problem when I tried to back the first batch... Oh well, looks like it's not meant to be.

    We apologize, but it looks like something's gone wrong. We've been notified about this issue, and we're currently looking into it.

    Thanks for your patience, and sorry for the inconvenience. Please try again later.

    1. Paul Westerman

      Re: "We apologize, but it looks like something's gone wrong"

      Same here, trying to upgrade mine to a Steel...annoying

    2. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Re: "We apologize, but it looks like something's gone wrong"

      exactly the same problem; can only conclude that kickstarted has been slashdotted ;)

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: "We apologize, but it looks like something's gone wrong"

        Just placed my order pledge, Kickstarted is back to its snappy self now.

  4. JDX Gold badge

    Battery in straps

    Why isn't this something being done as standard? Surely there's enough space in a strap you can get a semi-decent amount of storage? It makes 3rd-party straps harder to do but with something like iWatch surely that's not a major thing anyway - and lots of 'real' watches have the strap and face integrated anyway.

    1. Steven Raith

      Re: Battery in straps

      I'd imagine it's fear of having a lipo fire.

      If you smack your wrist against a door jam or something else that punctures the battery pack - which you'll note, is strapped to your wrist - and if it catches fire (or at best, expands and heats rapidly), it can only be undone by the parts that are at that moment in time, on fire (or very hot and difficult to hold).

      Highy unlikely, but having the battery exposed in a what by design needs to be a fairly soft and supple casing (IE the strap) would leave it more vulnerable to damage.

      If we can get good capacity batteries that aren't made of....just awful materials (in terms of skin damage, fire risk, etc) then it's likely that'll happen though.

      Steven R

      1. Filippo

        battry risks

        I don't think there's ever going to be a battery that's not dangerous in some way if damaged. The whole point of a battery is to store large amounts of readily-available energy. That's pretty much the definition of dangerous.

        1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

          Re: battry risks

          Not quite. It becomes dangerous as the probability of that energy being ummm very rapidly released in an uncontrolled way grows.

          1. John Tserkezis

            Re: battry risks

            "Not quite. It becomes dangerous as the probability of that energy being ummm very rapidly released in an uncontrolled way grows."

            That's like saying falling off a building isn't bad for your health - it's just the impact at the end that is.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: battry risks

              Lots of people fall off buildings on purpose and are just fine. It's that part where you do it accidentally that's bad. If you are base jumping and know what you're doing, it usually works out just fine.

      2. John Tserkezis

        Re: Battery in straps

        "If we can get good capacity batteries that aren't made of....just awful materials"

        It isn't the materials that are at fault.

        Lipo is a cell/battery technology that has a higher energy density than any other battery technology by far. And it's having all that energy stored in a small volume that's causing the problem - when things go wrong (and they WILL go wrong) they'll go wrong in a bigger way.

        Improved charging techniques have been the staple of lithium rechargable technology for the first decade of its life, and this has helped dramatically with overcharged batteries blowing up. Improvements in making manufacturing more stable and repeatable has help a great deal too (though they still have glitches today).

        The chemical makeup however is a different story, I might expect minor evolutionary changes to the recipe, but revolutionary changes require teams to do a lot of work - that takes longer and costs more money.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Battery in straps

      And of course a USB plug would be integrated into the strap buckle...

      The downsides to having the battery in the strap are:

      - Prevents customisation of the watch by using different straps

      - Limits the strap design - So NATO, leather or Milanese straps are out.

      - The volume available for a battery is fairly small.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Battery in straps

      Easily damaged and people like to change the strap. Pebble uses a standard strap spacing.

  5. TitterYeNot

    Shaken, not stirred...

    <Shop Assistant> There you go Sir, the very latest Pebble watch, in black as you requested. That'll be £250 then, please.

    <Customer> Here you are. Sighs. The usual dollars to pounds conversion I see...

    <Shop Assistant> And can I have an address for our records please, Sir?

    <Customer> It's 85 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall.

    <Shop Assistant> And your surname, Sir?

    <Customer> Well, erm, its 'Q' actually...

    1. Synonymous Howard

      Re: Shaken, not stirred...

      Currently it's actually $/£ conversion at the credit-card rate of the day the payment is taken ... then it will be up to the customer to pay any VAT and Duty (and carrier 'processing' fee) ... so could be the fairest way.

  6. FartingHippo

    Still Ugly

    The LG offering looks good; the pebble looks like crap. The reverse is true for battery life.

    I'm holding off until someone can deliver something that meets both criteria.

    1. John Tserkezis

      Re: Still Ugly

      "I'm holding off until someone can deliver something that meets both criteria."

      You're quite welcome to design your own if you like, or even easier still - to join the Pebble team in their design department. At least do something.

      See? Talk does not row the boat (to paraphrase an old proverb).

  7. Barry Rueger

    A Minor Quibble

    I may just buy a smartwatch ... if I ever see one that isn't insanely butt ugly!

    I've watched a raft of these things being enthused over recently, and every one of them has been big, ugly, and looks like it would eventually cause elbow injury hauling it around.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: A Minor Quibble

      Agreed - this Pebble just reminds me of a c.1984 CRT monitor.

      If you don't mind the 'Sports Watch' look, and you only want some limited functionality, you might look at the Casio Bluetooth Watch or the Citizen EcoDrive Proximity. Battery life is 1 year for the Casio and forever for the Citizen.

  8. Salts

    I think...

    I will have this one, the wife is going to get the iWatch on release, she is like that, I will hang back and see what it is like, but I don't like version one products so the Pebble suits me better.

    This is a bit of a u-turn did not think I would have a smart watch as I like my dumb watches, but hmmm, I also like tech and nothing else is catching the eye at the moment.

  9. Dave 126 Silver badge

    I like the company...

    ...but I just can't get on with the sharp cornered screen within a rounded black rectangle design. It looks like something from a mid-nineties tech demo video. Oh well.

    Off topic: *This* is a watch:

    1. Potts

      Re: I like the company...

      I agree, the sharp corners of the display sit badly within the rounded corners of black glass bezel. Would it have been such bad design to have given the black glass square corners or instead sourcing a screen that was just a fraction larger?

      On the other hand, I was tempted to b̶u̶y̶ pledge and quite liked the idea of creating a custom face based on the 1970s red LED digital watches (Pulsar style), with a bit extra functionality, of course.

  10. SniperPenguin

    Not impressed with the greed.

    Dont get me wrong, I looked at the Pebble time when it was announced and thought "Yep, thats for me" so I pledged / ordered one on day one, just missing the early birds.

    Now, when a kickstarter hits a target, its pretty common for stretch goals to be introduced in which more gear / features get thrown into the deal because of all that extra crowdfunded cash. A prefect example is the "exploding Kittens" card game, in which my same order got upgraded from a single deck with NSFW cards, to:

    - a full, separately playable NSFW deck

    - Carry box for two decks

    - Kickstarter exclusive item inside the box for the pledgers.

    (All of the above were seperate goals, added after each was completed)

    Now, take Pebble Time which as the time of looking was at 12.7 MILLION dollars (of a 500K goal). So far they have announced:

    - The Pebble Steel (this was simply a marketing tactic... the design and tooling was already in place)

    - Smart straps (which they aren't going to make, or invest in, or design) which use the connector they already have in the watch.

    - Anyone who "upgrades" their Pebble Time to the steel version loses their extra discount from being an early bird.

    Sounds like they are basically using Kickstarter as a marketing platform, I'm not seeing many rewards to the fans that handed them 25x their target.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not impressed with the greed.

      Cheap loan.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: Not impressed with the greed.

        Cheap loan.

        Not so cheap, it comes with fixed one-time cost 5% (for kickstarter). Surely, it's competitive rate but given they need it for half a year, at most? I wouldn't call it cheap.

    2. wdmot

      Re: Not impressed with the greed.

      Sounds like they are basically using Kickstarter as a marketing platform, I'm not seeing many rewards to the fans that handed them 25x their target.

      It's exactly what they're doing. In an interview I heard the other night with one of the Pebble guys (don't know if it was Eric Migicovsky or someone else, as came in in the middle of the interview), he said unashamedly that they use kickstarter for marketing even though they're "extremely well funded" because it allows them to reach out to their customers and get feedback from them more easily. Funny they didn't mention anything about getting development pre-funded, a free loan...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can you change the battery easily and cheaply?

    Wearing it in the bath or shower seems cool, but the heat ages the battery rapidly. Getting a new phone every 9 months isn't fun.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      "Getting a new phone every 9 months isn't fun."

      Sounds like a really good contract deal to me. As long as it is the latest high spec phone.

      My original Pebble battery is 2 years old and not showing any sign of decline.

  12. kmac499

    Track Pad in the Strap..

    If a portion of the surface of both halves of the stap could be the track pad and 'mouse' buttons for the watch. Your free hand could select options without obscuring the screen..

    So assuming watch on left wrist, place right hand over back of left hand puts the index finger on the 'top' strap half to navigate, and your thumb over the 'bottom' half to 'click' the options. Even zoom may be possible by sliding both fingers towards or away from the face of the watch.

    If both halves of the stap were identical, lefties simply reverse the functions of the touch areas, invert the screen display and only the watch buttons are in a slightly awkward position.

    Pat applied for (I wish)

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