Some of you may recall the saga of my original Pebble
, now referred to as the Pebble Classic, and it's subsequent replacement with the Pebble Time. This review may be a bit late, as the Pebble Time is now in the process of being replaced by the Pebble Time 2, but I don't care, this is my forum and I feel like writing about it anyway, so there.
The main difference between the Time and the Classic is obvious- the styling is different and the screen on the Time is color, while the Classic was monochrome. Both watches use an E-Ink type screen, which means the battery life is quite good on them. The Classic I think was good for 4-5 days usually, while the color screen of the Time drops that down to 3-4 days, which I believe is still one of the better showings than any of the other smart watches on the market, many of which require charging from day to day.
The most important thing to me about a smart watch is that it performs like a watch
, and that means it has to stand up to the day to day rigors of being something that is attached to me. If you wonder what kind of rigors that involves, let me remind you that I have ten screws and a metal plate permanently lodged in my anatomy, and if I'm that hard on my original equipment then something that has a limited life span (technology is very limited usually) had better be able to keep up. The Classic impressed me with it's ability to not be broken, despite numerous kayaking trips, bike rides, sidewalk shoveling, ocean waves, temperature extremes, snorkel adventures, house painting, construction, dog walks in all manner of weather etc. In fact, to it's credit, it held up as well as any of my other watches have, and that's saying something. Sure the plastic face has a few gouges in it, but then, all of my watches have some gouges in them too, and they are metal and fancy crystal.
Anyways, getting back to the Time- the textured plastic bezel is probably not going to look terribly pretty for long, at least not in my lifestyle. The nice thing about the polished face of the Classic meant that it could be polished again to get rid of scratches. A matte or textured finish isn't as forgiving. I had a look at the Pebble Steel in a store and thought it might be a nicer option... until I saw that it was over $100 more than the Time, at which point I decided I can just deal with a few scratches.
The Time also features a voice to text feature, which is nice- when you get a text, email, Hangouts chat, FB message etc you can respond with either a canned message or, with a few button presses, you can just speak your message and the Time will quickly turn it into more or less accurate text.
The silicone band that comes with the Time is nice and soft and actually quite pleasant to the touch, except that it suffers from the exact same issue that the Classic did- one notch is too big, the next notch is too small. That's not really Pebble's fault, it's just frustrating to have a wrist that falls just perfectly between sizes. To fix this problem on the Pebble Classic I got a nice NATO band, so I figured I'd just swap the band on to the Time. But, there was more to this than I thought.
First off, I have decided that I absolutely LOVE the setup for attaching the Time to it's band- the spring loaded pins actually have small levers to pull the pins back. It is ingenious and makes swapping the strap absolutely effortless. Unfortunately, you might destroy the strap to remove the pins to reuse, so they are really only good for whatever you put that strap on. I'm glad I decided not to try to remove them though, as there's a pretty major issue- the Classic had a charging port on the side of the watch while the Time has it on the back, which means the NATO type strap has to be peeled off to charge the watch. This may not be a big deal, but it is another step that I don't personally want to bother with so I am making do with the silicone strap.
All in all I am very happy with the Time. The color screen is nice to look at, but I'm not really convinced it is worthwhile over the Classic. The Classic screen served me well for a year and I never felt it was lacking, and the decrease in battery life is not worth color to me. Maybe after a while I may find some apps that work better with color, but at this point it doesn't mean much to me.
The Time also features built in weather and health (step counter and sleep monitor) apps that you have to get as add on apps for the Classic.
Looking at both the Time and the Classic, if I had to choose one to buy I think I would still spend the extra money on the Time, which is about $50 more. The color screen could be important to many, but to me the voice to text option is well worth the extra layout. It adds a significant amount of versatility to the Pebble that is sorely lacking in the Classic, with only a handful of canned and pre-programmed responses available. I miss the potential for two way communication that is available on the Samsung Gear and Apple iWatch, but it is a small price to pay- literally, as the Pebble Time is a fraction of the cost of either of those others, and
it is waterproof, so you don't have to run screaming when the weather goes south.
I like my Pebble Time and I hope it lasts longer than the Classic did.