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Pebble Steel Review

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Pros:

Good battery

Easy to read in direct sunlight

Waterproof

Cons:

It’s pretty basic

It’s not a touchscreen

Can have only 8 apps at the same time

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Pebble Steel arrived on the wearable technology market in the early 2014, determined to continue where its predecessor Pebble left off. Unfortunately for Steel, however, this was also a time when a lot of other smart-watch contenders reached the stores, so it didn’t have a very easy job at appealing to the masses.

That is not to say that it didn’t though.

At a retail price of $199 it Pebble Steel isn’t exactly the cheapest smart-watch around, but there are plenty of features that make it worth every cent.

Interface and Performance

With Pebble Steel you won’t get a very fancy interface. In fact, it’s pretty basic. The central key on the right of this smart-watch allows the user to open the main menu where he can get to his apps, change settings or see a historical list of notifications.

Unfortunately, for some inexplicable reason, notifications don’t immediately disappear from the screen, even if you answered them.

Unlike the Sony SmartBand Talk SWR30 smart-watch the pebble has no speaker, it is pretty inconspicuous while you are wearing it, as it will only alert you by vibrating. Don’t expect the pre-installed alarm to wake you up if you sleep like a big stone.

Speaking of alarm, Pebble Steel allows you to set multiple alarms and set duration for snooze, which is pretty handy in our opinion.

In addition to the alarm, Steel also comes with a music playback function already installed by default. The music controls are a bit iffy though. Some apps like Pandora will work just fine, while others will show the dreaded “music not found”.

When it comes to performance, there aren’t any glaring issues with Pebble Steel. Scrolling through menus and notifications is as smooth as it gets and you won’t have to wait for this smart-watch to catch up.

Unfortunately, it does not include a GPS or NFC, so Pebble Steel won’t be of much use as either a running watch or a mobile payment device.

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Display

The biggest issue with Pebble Steel is that it doesn’t have a touchscreen, though you can get used to using side buttons pretty fast.

The display itself is a little on the smaller side with only 1.26 inches and a resolution of 144 by 168 on an e-paper with an optical hard coating protecting it from scratches. The resolution might be a little low, but then again, this isn’t a device for watching movies, but for reading text, this will be just fine.

What’s good about this kind of display (e-paper) is that it doesn’t suffer from sunlight glare. Even if you point it to direct sunlight, the Pebble Steel smart-watch display will still be perfectly readable. At night, a simple flick of the wrist will allow you to see the time thanks to a LED back-light.

Design

The original Pebble smart-watch wasn’t exactly what you might call a “beauty” in the design department. The only notable exception to an otherwise solid design is the large bezel around the display. We just had a feeling that there was space there to fit some more screen there instead.

The Pebble Steel looks really nice, in fact, with a marine-grade stainless steel finish, it definitely shows some substance when you look at it.

It does look like a  solid piece of tech, at 46 X 34 X 10.5mm and 56 grams, though the buttons on the side are a bit off-putting. At least you can’t miss them.

By default, Pebble Steel comes with a leather strap, which actually looks better than the one on Moto 360. Of course, if you want the full “steel” experience, you can get a steel band for your Pebble for 20 bucks.

Finally, thanks to the fact that Steel has an IP68 rating, it will be perfectly fine if you take a swim wearing it. Just as long as you don’t go any deeper than 50 meters.

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Apps

Pebble Steel allows you to have only eight apps at one time on it. You can however, swap the apps you currently have installed with those in your “Virtual Locker” within the smartphone app.

The 8-apps limit is a bit frustrating, though, especially since there are plenty of good apps for Steel out there. That’s actually saying a lot for TechWear that isn’t backed by either Google or Apple. That’s in big part thanks to the developer community around Pebble.

Battery

The battery is probably the Steel’s best part as it “should” allow use of your Pebble Steel for five to seven days of use without having to charge it. This is in large part thanks to the energy-saving e-paper.

Where it fails a bit is how long it takes to charge once the battery is drained. This might take a while, so be patient.

 

Verdict

Pebble Steel does most of the things right. The problem is that it doesn’t do much. It’s a pretty basic smart-watch, with a good battery and is simple to use. If you are looking for more, such as using it for mobile payments or as a fitness tracker, you should probably look elsewhere. That being said, the Pebble Steel smart-watch will fit into your life just as it will fit your wrist, snugly! 

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