$199 'Pebble Time' Color E-Paper Smartwatch Launches Via Kickstarter

Pebble is launching a new Kickstarter campaign, and the star this time around is its new Pebble Time smartwatch. In a nascent market that is seeing the rise of LCD and OLED-powered smartwatches running the Android Wear operating system (the much-hyped Apple Watch is still two months away), the Pebble Time forgoes those power-hungry displays (well, power-hungry when we’re talking about the tiny batteries included on smartwatches) in favor of a color e-paper display.

The use of the e-paper allows for the use of [relatively] vibrant colors while retaining the seven-day battery life that Pebble users have grown accustomed to. For comparison, Android Wear smartwatches last anywhere from one to two days per charge, while Samsung’s Tizen-based smartwatches will conk out after three days. Apple is preparing customers to become accustomed to “nightly” charges for the Apple Watch.

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Other hardware changes come in the form of a new microphone that allows you to not only take voice notes, but also respond to notifications or send voice replies. And as we reported before, the Pebble Time is 20 percent thinner than the original Pebble, coming in at just 9.5mm thick. The e-paper display is protected via scratch resistant Gorilla glass and is framed by a stainless steel bezel (the rest of the device remains plastic, however). And for the active set, you’ll be glad to know that you can wear your Pebble Steel in the rain or even leave it strapped on your wrist during a swim — try doing that with you $349 Apple Watch Sport.

You’ll also be happy to hear that the Pebble Time continues to be compatible with both Android and iOS, and supports the existing 6,500+ Pebble apps and watchfaces. And yes, that includes recently introduced support for Android Wear apps.

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The Pebble Time will initially be made available in the following three color schemes:

  • Black watch case and silicone band with black PVD stainless steel bezel
  • White watch case and silicone band with silver PVD stainless steel bezel
  • Red watch case and silicone band with black PVD stainless steel bezel

I’m hoping that a Pebble Time “Steel” version will be offered in the future, as the current version still looks a bit “underwhelming” to my eyes and I’d prefer a classier look — something along the lines of the similarly-priced ASUS ZenWatch would be nice.

Speaking of pricing, Pebble is launching the Pebble Time exclusively via Kickstarter. The “Early Bird” pricing of $159 has already been sold out, but early backers can still pledge $179 and receive a single Pebble Time. If you pledge $338, you’ll get two Pebble Time watches ($169 each).

The Pebble Time will begin shipping in May with an MSRP of $199.