After two successful crowdfunding campaigns, Pebble is back for a third try.
Pebble returned to Kickstarter today to rack up preorders for its first update to the original Pebble, the Pebble 2, and its first big change to its pricier Time smartwatch, the Pebble Time 2. The company also debuted a gadget outside the smartwatch category: a little $69 box named Core that clips on to your shirt or keys, has no display, plays Spotify playlists, and tracks runs with GPS.
The Pebble 2 is expected to ship in September, the Time 2 in November, and the Core in January. The Time Round, Pebble’s only circle-faced watch, remains part of the company’s lineup (without a scheduled update), while the original Pebble, Pebble Steel, Pebble Time, and Pebble Time Steel watches will all be phased out.
Okay, there’s a lot here. Let’s break down what’s new.
The Pebble 2 looks a lot like Pebble’s original smartwatch, which debuted on Kickstarter in 2012, but it now packs a heart rate monitor and features a thinner design. In about four years, Pebble’s namesake smartwatch has effectively transitioned from flagship product to budget option to full-fledged Fitbit competitor.
The look of the watch is decidedly “sporty,” as Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky put it in an interview with VentureBeat. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the Pebble 2 was designed to compete with other fitness-focused wearables.
- Display: Same 1.26-inch size, black-and-white epaper, Gorilla Glass
- Heart rate monitor
- Battery: 7 days* (same as original Pebble)
- Body: thinner design, new colors
- Ships: September
- Price: $99 on Kickstarter — $129 later
*Correction 1 p.m. PT: Pebble 2’s battery lasts 7 days, not 10.
The Time 2 packs the features of the Pebble 2 into a sleeker design — though it’s arguably not as sleek as the Pebble Time Round.
The Time 2 has a steel body, like the $250 Pebble Time Steel (which is being phased out), but it’s priced lower: $169 now on Kickstarter and later at $199. And the display is larger and boasts a higher resolution than previous Time watches.
“The way that we’re moving in life is having the sportier side of the house, as well as the more stylish side. And that’s just how Pebble will roll,” said Migicovsky.
- Display: larger screen (“50 percent larger”), higher-res, color epaper
- Heart rate monitor
- Silicon rubber strap (not leather)
- Battery: 10 days (same as Time Steel)
- Body: same Time Steel body, three colors (black, gold, silver)
- Ships: November
- Price: $169 on Kickstarter — $199 later
Nothing like the Core really exists today. It’s a cute little box that streams music like a modern-day iPod Shuffle (that’s Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky’s comparison) — and, I must admit, I still have a soft spot for the original Shuffle.
The Core is for runners who don’t like running with their phones, coming at a time when smartwatches aren’t smart enough to replace our phones. It works on its own or in tandem with a Pebble smartwatch. It’s a niche product. It’s also open and “hackable,” which allows developers to potentially create new uses for it.
According to Migicovsky:
The reason why people take their phone while they run is because they want to stream Spotify — they want to stream music, Apple Music, whatever — and they just can’t do that with running watches these days.
So we started looking at what it would take to integrate those features into a watch. There are some people who are experimenting with 3G in a watch, but you start getting bigger — the watch gets bigger, it gets more expensive, and all of a sudden you have a hockey puck on your wrist, and the battery life just drops off.
So we decided to solve that problem in kind of a different way — kind of crazy: we actually split it up, and created a completely new type of wearable called the Pebble Core.
The Core really is a product of its time; it’s an admission from Pebble that there’s no easy way to fit cellular connectivity or GPS into a smartwatch. The technology isn’t there, or the components are too big, or it’s too expensive — who cares why? What matters is that Pebble is releasing a little wearable next year that does what its smartwatches can’t: It tracks your run on a map and connects to 3G. At $69, it’ll be interesting to see if the little clip-on cube actually sells.
- Clip-on wearable sans display
- Spotify support: Syncs playlists to internal storage (support for other services may arrive, too)
- SIM card: Add your own to stream Spotify
- Built-in headphone jack, Bluetooth
- Other functions include hailing Uber, it’s “hackable”
- Battery: 9 hours “playing music and tracking GPS,” optional wireless charging
- Ships: January 2017
- Price: $69