Why the Pebble Time Smartwatch Is Exciting Crowdfunders

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2015-02-25
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    Why the Pebble Time Smartwatch Is Exciting Crowdfunders
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    Why the Pebble Time Smartwatch Is Exciting Crowdfunders

    By Don Reisinger
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    If You Want It, Go to Kickstarter
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    If You Want It, Go to Kickstarter

    Kickstarter, the popular crowdfunding service, is again playing host to Pebble's smartwatch. The company made a splash on Kickstarter in 2012 when it raised over $10 million and is now well on its way to breaking that record. As of this writing, Pebble has more than 32,000 backers, but still has several donor levels available for those who want to get Pebble Time when the company releases it in May.
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    The Price Delivers a Solid Value
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    The Price Delivers a Solid Value

    It's hard to take issue with Pebble Time's value. Although the Early Bird option is now gone, Pebble was offering its smartwatch at that level for $159. Early backers will be able to get the device for $179. The regular retail price on Pebble Time will be $199, making it a solid value for both early backers and those who will wait until it's available to buy one via retail.
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    Pebble Is Offering Exclusive Color Options for Kickstarter Backers
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    Pebble Is Offering Exclusive Color Options for Kickstarter Backers

    Pebble is offering exclusive colors to backers who ante up some cash via Kickstarter. The company says that Kickstarter backers will be able to choose from a black, white or red watch case. In addition, Kickstarter backers will receive a specially engraved model that says "Kickstarter Edition."
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    The Color E-Paper Screen Has Garnered Attention
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    The Color E-Paper Screen Has Garnered Attention

    One of Pebble Time's major new features is its e-paper color screen. With e-paper, Pebble says that Pebble Time will be easily readable and not burn through battery life the way a standard LCD screen might. The e-paper also appears to look quite nice behind the device's stainless steel bezel.
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    Pebble's Battery Life Claim Is Impressive
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    Pebble's Battery Life Claim Is Impressive

    Thanks in large part to the e-paper integration, Pebble is able to get a staggering seven-day battery life out of Pebble Time. That stands in stark contrast to reports that the Apple Watch will need to be recharged each day. In addition, Pebble says that Pebble Time will be water resistant, so users can get it wet without fear of bricking the smartwatch.
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    Customizability Plays an Important Role
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    Customizability Plays an Important Role

    Customizability is a key component in Pebble Time. The company says that all standard 22mm watch bands will fit the device, giving users an endless stream of customizable options. In addition, it will make its 3D printing data available to the developer community, so users can create everything from straps to device covers to docks that can to add to the device.
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    The Three Side Buttons Are Crucial to the Experience
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    The Three Side Buttons Are Crucial to the Experience

    Although Pebble is touting the sheer number of apps available for Pebble Time, the company acknowledged that sifting through them all to get to, say, an email or the score of a game can be a pain. So it has built a three-button feature on the right of the screen that represents the past, the present and the future. The past button's menu will show things like emails and notifications, while the future will display what's coming up on the calendar. The present button will show the current time. It's a neat idea that could make using the smartwatch far more user-friendly.
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    Yes, a Microphone Matters Again
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    Yes, a Microphone Matters Again

    Who knew that a microphone would be so important? Pebble Time comes with a built-in microphone designed to handle dictation. So, if a user receives a text message or email on a Bluetooth-connected device, that user will be able to respond by talking into the smartwatch. It seems rather simple, but it's an important addition that is surprisingly lacking across the smartwatch market.
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    Pebble's Launch Date Puts It Head-to-Head With Apple Watch
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    Pebble's Launch Date Puts It Head-to-Head With Apple Watch

    Pebble is pegging its Time launch for May, which puts it in direct competition with Apple Watch. Apple hasn't disclosed an official release date for its smartwatch, besides saying it will be available in "early 2015." But recent news reports now say Apple will deliver it in the spring. Since Pebble Time will likely be much cheaper than Apple Watch, it should be interesting to see whether buyers will choose the lower-cost alternative.
 

Smartwatch maker Pebble is returning to crowdfunding to raise money to produce its latest model called Pebble Time. After raising more than $10 million in a 2012 Kickstarter campaign in 2012 and selling over 1 million smartwatch units since the company's inception, Pebble has gone back to its roots and started to solicit backing from the general public to bring another smartwatch to the market. Better yet, the crowdfunding campaign has already hit $6.7 million as of Feb. 24 and seems poised to beat Pebble's previous record. But besides Pebble's grass roots approach to business financing, the new device also has some interesting features designed to appeal to potential smartwatch buyers.  Given the widespread interest in Pebble Time, it's worth taking a look at what's in the new smartphone to persuade rank-and-file investors to back it with their own cash. Is it the Pebble brand? Is it Pebble Time's design? Is it the device's color e-paper screen? This slide show looks at the company and Pebble Time and examines why it has attracted so much attention before a single consumer has even worn it.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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