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Pebble

Underground Woman’s Review

I love my Pebble. Admittedly, I am a watch fanatic. I have a wide variety of watches, ranging from the very basic black Timex to the more stylish Swatch (yes, multiples of those), through to the inherited, classy ladies’ Bulova.

I also adore my smartphone. Where I was once entirely disinterested in cell phones, and was satisfied by the most basic Nokia feature phone, I am so attached to my Google Nexus 4 that I could now be legitimately mocked as a smartphone fetishist. So, when Pebble announced they were combining the best of both worlds to create the first “smart” watch, you can bet I was interested. I even considered pre-ordering it directly from the manufacturer, but given there had already been several delays in delivery I decided to wait for it to become more widely available.

As it turns out, I wasn’t actually interested enough to stalk the product. But the Underground Man did – because he is always on the lookout for gift ideas for me, and he knows me well enough to guess this product would appeal.

He gave it to me for Christmas. I was absolutely delighted!

To be fair, this was not an entirely selfless gift from the Underground Man. I have a tendency to leave my smartphone on silent or store it at the bottom of my purse. In either case, I tend not to hear incoming texts or even calls. He’s often asked me why I bother carrying a phone at all. So when I’m out frugal grocery shopping, I can be difficult to reach.

All that has changed with Pebble. Now, if I have a text or a call, my wrist vibrates to let me know. If it’s a text, I can read it at a glance and decide whether or not I wish to answer. If I see it’s a call and decide to answer, I will actually dig the phone out of my purse. That’s especially true when I’m waiting to hear if I’ve been assigned a mystery shop.

My favourite feature of the Pebble, without doubt, is when the face lights up after you flick your wrist. I’ve often been drawn to watches that have a light, but you have to press a button to activate it. For some reason, I more often feel the need to check time when it’s dark. I find myself flicking my wrist on a regular basis in the evenings. It’s fun.

I also loaded up the Glance app on my Pebble, which gives me the current weather and shows my smartphone battery status. No status is available for the watch battery, which I find odd but not a deal breaker. I just plug in my Pebble overnight every few days. It’s not that big a thing.

I’ve looked for other Pebble apps, but so far none of them really appeals. I already have three watch faces and that’s plenty enough for me. Other than that, there are a few game apps that I think are pointless and uninteresting. As for GPS: seriously, am I going to stare at my wrist while I’m driving? Perhaps someday I’ll give the Yelp app a whirl. Apparently, when you flick your wrist, Yelp serves up a random nearby recommendation. That sounds like fun.

Now that the Pebble app store is available, I’m certain there will be many more solutions available to make my smartwatch smarter. For now, my Pebble sits on my wrist, looking cool and telling me when I should actually haul my phone out of my purse to communicate. That’s all I really need.

Underground Man’s Review

I returned my Pebble to Best Buy after four days’ use.

In retrospect, I’m glad that I bought it from Best Buy and not directly from Pebble. I had originally pre-ordered that swanky-looking Pebble Steel, shortly after it was announced at CES in early January. But as my estimated mid-to-late February ship date came and went – and as my increasingly obsessive patrols of the Pebble support forum revealed that this Kickstarter darling’s customer service was nothing short of disgraceful – I decided to keep my $259 (plus shipping) and pick up the cheesy-looking black plastic model from a more reliable source in Canada.

Even that experience was not without its moments. I checked Best Buy’s website to confirm that the Coventry Road (Ottawa) location had inventory. It did. And yet, there were no Pebbles on display. Not a single Best Buy “Connected Solutions Specialist” knew what a Pebble was or where to find one. And when the Mobile Manager finally located a stash in a drawer underneath the Rogers counter, he literally tossed the box at me with a look of utter disdain on his bearded hipster mug and then marched off before I had a chance to mumble my disingenuous thanks. Prick.

I’m not a watch-wearing individual. So you might ask why I decided to buy into Pebble. Professionally, I get a lot of time-sensitive email and I attend a lot of time-consuming meetings. It was the promise of not having to deal with my Nexus 5 every few minutes that decided me on a so-called smartwatch. Notifications to my wrist mean the phone stays in my pocket and I devote more of my (admittedly limited) attention to matters at hand.

All very well, in theory. Except Pebble does not provide meaningful notifications for Exchange mail. All you get is a message that says you have a message. So, I went from a phone frequently buzzing in my pocket to a phone and watch buzzing repeatedly in succession, and still having to retrieve my Nexus to read mail. I wouldn’t call that a convenience.

I still have high hopes for wearables. Google’s recent Android Wear announcement – and the Moto 360, in particular – gave me a chub in my shorts. We’ll see how this all plays out over the summer.

In the meantime, I’ll stick with my pocket smarts. And I still get my kicks every time Underground Woman delightedly squeals, “My wrist is buzzing!”