A View from Rachel Metz
Will This Smart Watch Snag Small-Wristed Buyers?
Pebble’s newest smart watch is thin and light, which could make more people like me interested in buying one.
As an adult with wrists that look not unlike a fawn’s legs, I can’t seem to find a smart watch that fits me properly; they tend to feel way too big, and they look silly.
But a new one unveiled by Pebble on Wednesday may actually work for tech-minded, slender-wristed folks. Called Pebble Time Round, it’s got a rounded face and a color e-paper display, and it’s thinner, lighter, and generally less obvious than other smart watches I’ve seen.
Specifically, it’s 7.5 millimeters thick with a slightly curved back, and weighs 29 grams with a leather band—that makes it noticeably thinner and lighter than the rectangular Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel smart watches that the company introduced earlier this year (see “A Smart-Watch Pioneer Has an Answer for Apple”).
Aside from its body shape, it has the same software features as the Pebble Time, modified to work a little better on a circular display, and Pebble apps can work on it, though developers will have to update them first. The Pebble Time Round will cost $249, which is in line with the Pebble Time Steel (which starts at $250). The company started taking orders for it on Wednesday and will be shipping it to customers next month.
I got a chance to try the Pebble Time Round out briefly this week in San Francisco during a meeting with Pebble founder and CEO Eric Migicovsky, and was impressed with how unobtrusive it looked and felt. I grabbed a watch with a rose gold body and matching dainty strap—not the kind of thing I’d be inclined to buy for fear it wouldn’t match enough of my clothing, but it looked pretty cute on my wrist (for once, not weirdly large) and was quite comfortable. Buttons on its left and right sides were pretty easy to use to look through a timeline of daily activities (unlike many smart watches on the market, Pebble’s gadgets don’t have touch-screen displays).
Not surprisingly, making a slimmer smart watch required Pebble to make some trade-offs, most notably in its battery life and water-resistance. The Time Round will get just two days of battery life, which is very little compared to the up-to-a-week life span of Pebble’s other watches (however, that’s still a lot more than many other smart watches can claim, as they tend to last for just a day). And you won’t be able to take a shower with Time Round on your wrist.
“In this form factor, there are a ton of constraints,” Migicovsky told me. “It’s a balancing act between battery life and size, compatibility, feature set.”
I’m planning to try one out shortly, so I’ll report back on whether or not the smart watch succeeds after spending some more time wearing it.
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June 11-12, 2019