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Pebble announced a brand-new entry to is product line today, a far smaller and lighter — and round — smartwatch, called the Pebble Time Round.
Pebble smartwatches have a lot of loyal followers, but the devices are far from mass market adoption (like most smartwatches).
“We asked the question: ‘How can we get our watches on more wrists around the world?'” said Pebble founder and CEO Eric Migicovsky during an interview with VentureBeat Tuesday.
The answer his company came up with was to create a device that looks good on and fits comfortably on smaller wrists. The new watch is 7.5mm thick with a diameter of 38.5mm. It reminded me of the Withings watches, although the Pebble watch is slimmer.
When you talk to Migicovsky about smartwatches, you soon get the idea that battery life is a big, big deal for the designers of Pebble. That’s why the company has chosen to keep the feature set of its watches simple.
It’s the reason that the Pebble Time Round uses a power-efficient (always-on) color epaper display, instead of an OLED or AMOLED display. It’s part of the reason Pebble watches don’t contain heart rate monitors (although it’s something the company’s looking at).
With this design, less room is needed for power-hungry components and the larger battery needed to power them. The Pebble Time Round simply removes some of that space to achieve the far smaller form factor. But the battery is still big enough to provide power for two full days of use, Migicovsky said.
Charging for 15 minutes will provide a day of use, while a full charge takes about 45 minutes. The watch uses the exact same type of USB charger as earlier Pebbles.
The aesthetic of the Round agreed with me, for the most part, although I wish the front of the watch didn’t give up quite so much real estate to bezel space. The round display is only an inch in diameter, and the bezel looks to be somewhere in the neighborhood of a quarter of an inch.
The watch can be controlled using either an iPhone or an Android app.
A new feature puts many functions to sleep if the watch hasn’t been touched for 30 minutes. Eric said this can cause the battery to last 15 percent longer.
Migicovsky talked a little about the positioning of his products against the elephant in the room, the Apple Watch. The Pebble Time Round is a far less technically ambitious device at a significantly lower price point, which might appeal to some would-be smartphone owners. The Round will go on sale for $250 (plus $50 for the watch band) on the Pebble website November 8.
“We wanted to create the Swatch of smartwatches — something affordable, something casual,” Migicovsky said of the new watch.
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