February 25th, 2015
09:07 PM ET

Is it Pebble's Time to shine?

It's hard to talk about the Pebble Time without mentioning the Apple Watch.

Pebble, the pioneers of the smartwatch, unveiled their latest product just before the world's most valuable company is about to enter the market.

But I feel like there's room for both products.

I've been fascinated by the idea of a smartwatch since Casio's Databank. To me, the wrist always felt like a natural place to put a computing device; somewhere easily accessible and yet not constantly in your face like Google Glass.

So I was an eager backer and a big fan of the original Pebble. I liked that it didn't try to do too much: Pebble focused on a device that mostly only delivered notifications with a clear display and a good battery life.

This laser-focus appears to have carried on to Pebble Time. Yes, it's got a new look, a color screen and an intriguing new interface. But they say it has the same great battery life as the original, it's relatively inexpensive, and it appears to put a clear emphasis on notifications.

Notifications on your wrist sound like a minor convenience, but don't dismiss the idea so easily. Smartphones are filled with so many apps pumping out notifications that a quick way to check whether that buzzing is something that needs my attention right now without pulling out my phone is genuinely useful. It isn't life-changing. But it does make my life a little bit easier, and that's what I like about Pebble.

Pebble Time looks like stays true to the original vision, updated by a company that is now far larger and more experienced than it was three years ago.

It's a sharp contrast to the Apple Watch, which seems to be able to do almost everything and anything. I think the Apple Watch looks great and I am excited by some of the more advanced functions - but I found that I was also a little disappointed with it. Boasting that it did so many things didn't seem to reveal anything

But Apple is, well, Apple. They execute on their products better than anyone in the industry. And while Pebble boasts that it shipped its millionth device last year, Apple is expected to sell millions of watches by the end of this year.

So Pebble is facing an onslaught. But even though they're both smartwatches, they are not necessarily direct competitors.

Apple Watch starts at $349 and is expected to go up to thousands of dollars for the solid gold versions. It is the Rolex of smartwatches. If you want to put a beautiful and capable device on your wrist, that's the smartwatch you'll pick.

The Pebble Time will retail for $199. It's more like a Swatch: It's cheaper, it's simpler, and it looks more fun and friendly,

Some people want a piece of fine jewelry on their wrists. Others want something simple that they feel comfortable running or swimming with.

There's room for both Rolex and Swatch to sell watches. There should be space for Apple and Pebble to exist side-by-side.

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Filed under: Gadgets • General • Technology
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