04 August 2016 10:17:22 IST

A smartwatch for first-time buyers

Pebble’s new Time Steel is smart and affordable

Growth in the wearable market is ticking along at a healthy pace. Analysts throw up various sets of numbers illustrating the growth, all stacked in millions of units. A recent estimate says the total wearable market will have a mammoth valuation of $150 billion by the end of this year. Considering such bright prospects, a series of companies — big and small — are trying their best to make the cut in this lucrative and fast-emerging market. US-based Pebble Technologies is one of the many companies vying to grab a slice of this expanding wearable pie.

The Pebble Classic, predecessor of the new Time Steel, came out in 2013. Now, the Pebble Time Steel smartwatch comes to India almost a year after it was launched globally. The Time Steel, on our test bench this week, comes with a magnetic USB charging cable and a 22mm-wide soft-yet-strong leather strap. The gadget weighs a little over 60 grams with the leather band, and is offered in three colours — gold, silver and black. Unlike some of the competitors, the dial has no touch screen, but it is suitably big and the whole case is water resistant. The overall build quality is impressive. Also unlike some of the competition, the Time Steel’s battery gets charged faster and lasts more than a week.

On the wrist

Of course, this is not a design marvel, yet it would be safe to say that it sports the best-possible build in the price range. The Time Steel’s user interface is simple, intuitive and sports a minimalistic colour display with cool animations. The E-paper display with LED back light (possibly the reason behind its impressive battery ) is always-on. Four buttons control all the operations, and they are easy to engage and activate. One can sync Pebble Time Steel with the phone via Bluetooth, following simple procedures.

A key feature in the smartwatch is Pebble Health, which helps users track steps, sleep and receive personalised suggestions. During our test, we experienced syncing it to an Android device. The set up is fairly easy and the connectivity works seamlessly. Pebble has integrated fitness and sleep scanning natively to the smartphone through the Google Fit app. But, mind you, it’s not a dedicated fitness band and may lack the finesse of a FitBit Surge.

Apart from tracking health, Pebble Time Steel helps you avoid carrying your phone around 24X7 as it helps you manage most notifications, check calendar events and emails, and even reject incoming calls (you can’t make calls, though), track fitness, keep up with the weather, and for music playback. Reading a new mail is a fairly easy process on the Pebble, so is replying with a voice message, as long as the relatively small watch screen is a limitation you would have already factored into the usage.

Bottom line

It is just a matter of time before wearables in general and smartwatches in particular become inevitable components in our daily busy lives. And Pebble Time Steel looks like the right, basic wearable device you can start with. It is smart and affordable.

Price: Rs. 15,999

Love: Strong build, long battery life, simple UI

Hate: No touch screen, average fitness tracking, bland design