Pebble Time Steel Review: It Has Great Personality

Despite being mostly happy with my Moto 360 and the Android Wear platform, I still chose to back the Pebble Time Steel on Kickstarter this past summer, lured by promises of amazing battery life, great water resistance, and a revised Pebble OS based on a timeline concept.

Now that I’ve been wearing it for a week, here is my review of the Pebble Time Steel, and a comparison between the Pebble and Android Wear platforms.

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Pebble Time Steel: What Is It?

The Pebble Time Steel is the successor to Pebble’s original Pebble Steel, and like that watch, it is compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones. It is worth noting, however, that as with Android Wear on iOS, Apple has limited the Pebble’s functionality in iOS compared to the Apple Watch.

The Time Steel is the fancier sibling to the recently released Pebble Time, which contains mostly the same guts, but has a plastic case and synthetic band. The Steel also has a more clearly visible screen and longer battery life.

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The Moto 360 Turns One: 1st Birthday Follow-up Review

The true second generation of Android Wear devices are now upon us, with the release of the 2nd Gen Moto 360, and the upcoming release of the Huawei Watch, among other releases already on the market like the LG G Watch Urbane.

If you’re considering buying a smartwatch, you may be wondering how those first generation Moto 360s have held up, both physically and in terms of functionality. It is also worth noting that you can pick up the outgoing generation for half the price of the new one ($149.99 or less) and thus a review of the original may still be helpful. This is especially true given that many OS updates have happened since the launch period reviews, making much of their information out of date.

So: here are my impressions of the original Moto 360 after a full year of use, taking a look at how the device has held up physically, how it has performed, and the best features and apps of Android Wear.

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Moto 360 Review Update – 6 Month Check-Up

I jumped into Android Wear with the release of the Moto 360 back in September 2014. My initial impressions of the 360 were generally positive, though my feelings about Android Wear as a platform were somewhat mixed.

I’ve been living with his device every day for six months now, and with the impending release of the Apple Watch and conclusion of the Pebble Time Kickstarter campaign, this seems like an ideal time to check in on Android Wear and see how the 360 is holding up.

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Android Wear: Tantalizingly Close

How Smart is Your Smartphone?

The truth is that, most of the time, our smartphones, well… they aren’t that smart. They’re not intelligent devices.  They’re only smart in the extent that they’re internet-connected, so the term exists to differentiate such a device from the previously existing phones that were designed for calling (and, subsequently, texting).

Phones just for talking to people. I know – quaint, right?

To be fair, smartphones are about as smart, generally speaking, as our computers, our tablets, or our cable boxes, but I’ve never referred to my post-internet computers as “smart computers”. Online capability is just a function that, at this point, all modern computers have, just as in the near future, all phones will likely be what we refer to today as smartphones.

Our tech devices have become excellent instruction takers, yes, and we’ve found more and more ways to interact them them – for instance, I can interact with my TV and cable via a remote control, voice control, website, or mobile application – as well as found ways for these devices to interact with each other.

In some cases, specific websites and applications have become very good at suggesting things that we might like. I’ve been extremely impressed with Amazon’s ability to successfully link products based on search and purchase history, and music services like Pandora, Spotify, and Google All Access do a great job assembling music stations and suggestions that appear curated but are actually created via algorithm.

But smart? Truly smart, as in exhibiting intelligence?  Nope.

Well, actually… maybe.

 

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Moto 360: A Beautiful Beta

When Motorola revealed the Moto 360, the initial reaction was overwhelmingly positive: finally, a smartwatch that actually looked, well, like a watch.

It wasn’t so much that Samsung and LG’s smartwatches were unattractive, per se, it was just that they didn’t look like a traditional watch design. There was no chance that someone would look at them and think, “That’s a good looking watch!” Their large size, square design, and mediocre to poor watchbands set them apart from what we think of as a quality watch design. That makes them fine as a gadget for people really into technology, but not really functional as an all-purpose watch.

The 360 changed that:

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There’s really no question that the Moto 360 is hands-down the most attractive smartwatch currently on the market. How did Motorola do with the internals of the device, and is Google Wear worth your money at this point?

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