The countdown is over: the latest smartwatch competing for your wrist is the new Pebble Time, a device with a color e-paper display, seven days of battery life, and compatibility with the huge suite of Pebble apps. Interestingly, Pebble has returned to Kickstarter for the Time, and within the first twenty minutes of the campaigns launch, it has easily hit its half-million dollar goal.

Rumors first hit the web last week (with a leak yesterday) about what the new Pebble would feature, and it seems those rumors were true. The new Pebble has the aforementioned thinner, wider design to fit more comfortably on a wrist, as well as a full-color, animation-heavy, e-paper display. Going with e-paper is a great way to save on battery life, and offer a sharp rebuke to the smartwatches being made with touch-capable LCD or OLED screens.

The Pebble Time also features a built-in microphone for responding to notifications – particularly those allowed by Android apps, like Hangouts and Gmail. Pebblers with iOS devices won’t have as many voice-capable apps at their disposal, but Pebble says that they’re “working to enable voice replies for more apps” – presumably across both platforms.

pebble-timelinePebble Time also features a new “timeline” feature, which maps past, present, and future events to the three buttons on the device’s side:

“You already plan your day around time, so it makes sense for your Pebble to be organized around the same principle. Now your notifications, news, reminders and events are laid out chronologically instead of being trapped inside separate apps.”

The new smartwatch is compatible with any standard 22mm watch band, and the company adds that it’s working on bringing more fitness-oriented apps to the table, so even if it doesn’t do everything you want when it ships this May, it might before the year is up. The Time comes in three colors – black, white, and red – and will retail for $199 when it’s released. Currently, backers can snag one for $159 as part of the early bird Kickstarter pre-order. Once those are gone (and they’ll be gone soon), the price will jump to $179.

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Pebble Time is an interesting new device that aims to buck the trend of flashy, powerful smartwatches. If this smartwatch was coming from any other company, it’d be easy to dismiss as underpowered and unimpressive. But because of Pebble’s track record – and let’s face it, the original Pebble got the smartwatch ball rolling in the first place – the Time might be the smartwatch of choice for a whole set of consumers seriously considering wearables for the first time.

pebble-colorsAnd again, while a lesser company’s decision to go with Kickstarter would come with a warning about its ability to deliver, Pebble once again has proven itself in that department. Most hardware that’s Kickstarted goes down in flames, with only a few exceptions coming out unscathed. Pebble is one of those exceptions. And going with Kickstarter allows the company to more fully control its ability to produce enough units for people who are buying them. With the cash in hand at the end of the campaign, Pebble will have plenty of money to get units to backers as promised, without making too many or too few. In short, Pebble’s done this before, and the Time looks like the best Pebble yet.

Even though I already own an Android Wear watch, I have to admit: the Time looks good, and the early bird pricing was a major factor in my decision to back it. However, I have to wonder if $199 will be a bit too expensive for most folks who can buy an Android Wear watch for a similar price. On the other hand, the least expensive Apple Watch will start at $349. As such, the Pebble Time is the fanciest, most stylish iOS compatible smartwatch available for less than three bills. Apple’s expensive wearable could be the Pebble Time’s secret to success.

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[Pebble Time on Kickstarter]



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