Skip to main content

Why One 2014 Smartwatch is Finally Practical


I finally jumped into wearables this year.  Why? Partly cost, partly need (yeah right, more like "want"), and because it was just time to do it!  What I chose and why I chose it is what this post is all about!
Sometime in 2014 I bought my son a Pebble smartwatch.  The gesture wasn't totally gift-giving.  He tended to miss phone calls and text messages we sent, so a smartwatch made his chance of getting the messages much better because the Pebble vibrates when text/SMS messages come in.

This "test" ended up being a great success, and communication has been much improved since.

Fast forward to 2016 (well, call it Christmas 2015...), and I have my own smartwatch.  Here were my criteria:
  • Text messages to my wrist
  • Turn-by-turn gps directions when I am walking around the big city(ies)
  • Look nice enough to wear to business meetings
  • Reasonably stable and good update track record
  • Prefer not to pay a massive premium price
  • Work with BOTH iPhone AND android (I switch a lot!)
  • Battery to get me through a busy day
So these requirements seem reasonable to me from a logical perspective.  It turns out that this narrows down the field a LOT.  Specifically the requirement to work with iPhone and Android, and looking good enough for a business meeting knocked that list down to only a few.

I decided on a 2014 vintage PEBBLE STEEL (NOT Pebble Time Steel!).  We got it for $60 refurbished from Cowboom.com, and there are LOTS of them still available at that price.  Mine looked brand new, but didn't come with a charging cable.  $2 shipped from a supplier in China via Ebay and I have one now.  (ok, technically that makes it $62... but some of the $60 ones come with charger cables.  I chose one noted for its condition.)

So here is the final logic that made the decision:
  1. The experiment with my son's pebble worked very well. #comfort
  2. Text messages and turn-by-turn gps just work.  #easy
  3. Pebble steel with the steel watchband looks quite nice. #techie but not #bragging
  4. Pebble has been very stable, few bugs/problems with reliability #noworries
  5. Cheap!  Everybody wants a new one, so lightly used and not abused ones are very affordable #cash
  6. Works with both iPhone and Android.  #huzzah
  7. Battery - OK, this wasn't even a competition.  7 days vs 1-3 days for all others (non Pebble options). #wow
Battery life is still not close to non-smartwatches (dumbwatches? feature watches?)

So what I gave up by going with an older wearable is the panache and brag-ability of showing off a new device.  That only lasts a year anyway, so pttttbbbbttttt.  I don't care.  I am giving up a touchscreen.  Who cares.  I know you CAN do cool stuff on that dinky screen, but I'd prefer my timepiece to really just, you know, be a timepiece.  The notifications pretty much solve my immediate need.

What did I gain (or retain) ? Cash:  Only $60 spent.  I've easily spent more for a Casio or Swatch (dating myself here) in the past.  Battery life:  This watch can go on trips without me stressing about it dying in the airport on a long international flight.  Great indoor/outdoor screen visibility: The Pebble screen is so easy to see in bright daylight thanks to the e-ink technology.
So, although I enjoy writing blogs about technology, this is really about how you can get some great technology and participate in "the wearable movement" in a meaningful and practical way without giving in to the commercials that say you need "best and newest" (and expensive-est). 

Want your own? Cowboom has lots of them cheap.  And no, I don't work for them, have any association, and I won't make a penny off you buying things from them :)

Popular posts from this blog

Making Macbook Air with 128GB SSD usable with Bootcamp

I recently got a new Macbook Air 11" (the 2012 version) and loaded it with goodies like 8GB ram and 2GHz Core i7.  What I DIDN'T upgrade was the internal SSD.  My config came with 128GB SSD and I refused to pay $300+ to upgrade it to 256GB.  Yeah I know, some call me cheap, but SSds cost $75-$150 for 240GB, so adding another 128GB for $300 seemed way too steep for me.  I figured "ok, I'm going to make 128G work!"

Here is the story of how that went...

Installing python 3.4.x on OSX El Capitan

I love "brew" package manager, but sometimes being too progressive breaks things.  I have several python apps that I maintain that get deployed to AWS using Elastic Beanstalk.  AWS eb can deploy with python 2.7 or 3.4.  Any recent 'brew install python3" will get 3.5.1. #annoying

Dell XPS M1330 + Snow Leopard Hackintosh

I have been working with a Dell XPS M1330 laptop for a few years now.  It doesn't quite match up to the newest notebooks in terms of performance, but it certainly still has some life in it.  I had previously installed OSX 10.5.x on it as an experiment, and had moderate success.  I decided to revisit this idea again to install Snow Leopard (OSX 10.6) on the Dell M1330, and keep some notes for those of you brave enough to Hackintosh your own machine...