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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 :)

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