Four measly little words stand between me and the wearable device of my dreams: Looks good, works good. Most of today’s smartwatches, smart wristbands and smart headgear get it half-right at best.
One manufacturer, however, keeps pushing on both the function and style fronts, in hopes that it can deliver the whole package: Pebble. On Tuesday, the company introduced three limited-edition, candy-colored versions of its popular $150 smartwatch.
Pretty Little Pebbles
Last year, Pebble Kickstarted the modern smartwatch movement, launching its first polycarbonate devices in black, red, and white. Later, the startup added fan favorites grey and orange to the mix, before debuting premium Pebble Steel models in stainless and black. Now it’s employing a new palette (complete with matching watchbands) in a limited production run.
The three new brightly hued Pebbles—nicknamed Fresh (green), Hot (pink) and Fly (blue)—are more than just a gimmick, said Myriam Joire, Pebble’s chief evangelist. They’re a response to customer requests through the company’s #ColorMyPebble Pinterest board. “People told us the colors they wanted, and these were the next ones in line,” she said.
The new versions give Pebble the chance to further refine its manufacturing process, since mastering colors can be tricky in gadget production. Just ask Apple, which has had its own share of trouble making gadgets in different colors—and may be running into issues again with the next iPhone, according to recent rumors.
It would have been simpler for Pebble to simply stick with colored skins that customers can apply themselves. But nothing’s more durable than baking the colors permanently right into the hard plastic casing. With the matching wrist strap, the combination is trés cute—like toy watches, along the same vein as the vibrant rainbow range of RumbaTime watches, joyously plasticky Swatches or cool straps lashing the first iPod Nano to the wrist.
The new $150 fruity Pebbles will also arrive with new watchfaces—including an animated Reading Rainbow watchface with an 8-bit Levar Burton—as well as a new app from yet another marquee partner, the Weather Channel.
Working Well, Looking Smart And Being Fabulous
Style is subjective, of course, and the new Pebbles’ electric pops of color—which pick up on last summer’s neon trend—won’t be up everyone’s alley. The limited editions are more about fun than sophistication, so they wouldn’t mesh too well with a cocktail dress or a Ted Baker suit.
No matter. Sure, Pebble offers its Steel version to cater to that crowd, but others are on the way for both women and men—from the Moto 360, Android Wear’s best-looking smartwatch contender so far, to the stunning Ringly notifications ring. That’s just for starters.
At the Consumer Electronics Show, Intel announced it was working with design house Opening Ceremony on smart bracelets. Last month, Fitbit drew on the accessory design chops of Tory Burch. And a few days ago, HP said it was developing its own smartwatch with retailer Gilt and fashion designer Michael Bastian.
With so many appealing wearables on the way, it appears our fingers and wrists will be doing double duty—both working and looking smart.
Here are my shots of Pebble’s new watches:
And here’s the company’s promotional video:
Pebble’s Hot, Fresh and Fly smartwatches are on sale now for $150, available solely through GetPebble.com, and ships worldwide (while supplies last).
Images of new Pebble smartwatches by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite