TIME Gadgets

Pebble Time Is Long on Battery, Short on Features

Pebble Pebble Time

Pebble’s latest smartwatch offers a new look, a color screen, and an entirely new operating system, but is it enough to woo consumers?

Starting today, Pebble will begin shipping the Pebble Time to nearly 79,000 Kickstarter backers.

The smartwatch is the company’s third product, but arguably the most significant thus far. It comes weeks after Apple launched its own smartwatch, and as Google gets ready to announce enhancements for its Android Wear platform (including possible iOS compatibility) that runs on smartwatches.

The $199 Pebble Time features redesigned casing available in red, white, or black. The smartwatch has a new color e-paper display that livens up the previously black-and-white screen, and also includes improved battery life. After thoroughly testing the smartwatch, its battery life fell to 20 percent after five days, which aligns with the company’s promise that one charge could last up to seven days.

A new mechanism also makes it possible to quickly change watch straps without special tools (a time-consuming task required for both smart and traditional watches). Previous Pebble users will be happy to hear the eight-app limit is no more and users can install as many apps (or watch faces) as they like.

The new Pebble Time operating system is full of fun animations and playful icons for various apps and information. It ran smoothly, even before last-minute bugs were ironed out via updates, during the review period.

However, the new Timeline feature is arguably the most promising aspect of the smartwatch. With the push of an up or down button (found on the watch’s side), information is displayed in chronological order and divided into past, preset and future events.

For example, past events include calendars, sports scores, and check-in’s from social networking app Swarm, while the present displays current events and alerts. Meanwhile, a future agenda features weather forecasts, and alarms (just to name a few). Users can select an entry to view more detailed information, or return back to the watchface after catching a glimpse of the day’s summary.

Unlike other smartwatches, Pebble Time apps push information straight to the Timeline without sending an alert to your phone. The benefits of this functionality became apparent during my time using the ESPN Pebble Time app. Despite not having the sports app installed on my smartphone, sports scores and updates were placed into the device’s Timeline. Select a team or game you want to follow from the app on the watch, and the alerts will follow.

Pebble’s Timeline is one of those features where you begin using it, and it doesn’t quite make sense at first. But, its value starts to shine through as more information is populated. Being able to press a button and view bite-sized morsels of information is of tremendous use for smartwatch users.

It’s imperative, however, for big name developers to take advantage of the new feature in order for Pebble to maximize the potential of its Timeline. ESPN is big, but not big enough on its own. The NYT Now app comes to mind as the perfect companion for a feature like this, as does Twitter.

The smartwatch lacks certain staples (such as voice notes, stocks apps, weather watchfaces and album art) found on other competitors’ devices, but future OS updates promise to fix that.

Regardless of its soon-to-be-fixed app setbacks the biggest obstacle facing Pebble is the shift in what smartwatches are capable of and what consumers now expect from them.

The one-way features Pebble was originally built-on have morphed into a two-way highway that has become the norm in the industry. Now information races between one’s smartwatch and smartphone just as often as it does going in the opposite direction. Raise your wrist to create a voice reminder on the Apple Watch with a “Hey Siri” command and watch it later sync across all of your Apple devices. It’s a similar feature that can also be achieved with “OK Google” if you’re an Android Wear user.

Unfortunately, the Pebble Time doesn’t allow you to create content, such as a reminder or compose a text message from scratch. The device basically acts as a smaller screen to view your notifications, and not much else.

Short of using your voice to reply to a message on an Android device, any interaction you have with the watch is strictly from a consumption standpoint, meaning sending any information to your phone from your smartwatch isn’t possible.

To its credit, Pebble has stated working on a method to allow iPhone users to reply to Gmail messages using dictation, but it’s not ready quite yet.

It should be possible for a developer—or Pebble itself—to create a smartstrap (you can read more about these straps in an earlier Logged In column) that contains a speaker. Using the Pebble Time’s microphone and a speaker located in the strap, users could then give commands to create alerts and send text messages. Alas, nothing like that exists right now; perhaps one day.

What the Pebble Time lacks in features, it makes up for in battery life. It still offers the core foundation of what a smartwatch once was, and for some, what it should be. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to an Android user, thanks to the added functionality and notification management. I would hesitate, however, to give the same recommendation to iOS users, unless battery life and a budget (Apple’s smartwatches are almost twice as costly) are of the utmost importance.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.

TIME Gadgets

4 Cheaper Alternatives to the Apple Watch


Just after midnight on Friday, April 10, Apple officially started taking pre-orders for the Apple Watch (to be released April 24). The device has garnered a lot of interest from shoppers and the media alike. But let’s be honest – the new Apple Watch isn’t for everyone. You need an Apple iPhone to use it, so Android smartphone owners are out of luck. The device is brand new and hasn’t been battle tested. And with a price range that starts at $349 and runs all the way up to $17,000, it’s certainly not a bargain, either.

Good news, however: There are plenty of worthy Android and iPhone-compatible smart watches that don’t share these very specific Apple Watch weaknesses. To prove the point, we’ve compiled this list of great Apple Watch alternatives below that are definitely worth a look.

Pebble Time Steel

If you haven’t taken a look at the Pebble smart watch since its black-and-white e-paper formative days, you owe the company a second look. It’s latest watch, the Pebble Time Steel, has an upgraded 1.25” color e-paper display, a 3D accelerometer, compass and a mic for voice commands. The Steel connects to your iOS or Android smartphone via Bluetooth to control music and receive emails, messages and texts. Plenty of third-party apps are available for the watch, as well (RunKeeper, Weather Channel). The best feature of the Pebble Time Steel may be its battery life, however – it can go a full 10 days without a full charge.

The main downside to the Pebble Time Steel is that it’s running neither an Apple-based nor an Android-based operating system. That’s not a huge problem – there are plenty of solid third-party apps available for the Steel, from RunKeeper, Misfit, The Weather Channel and more big names. But it simply won’t have the same kind of intense third-party support that giants like Apple and Google can command.

The Pebble Time Steel is coming this July with a price of $299 in brushed stainless, matte black and gold finishes.

Samsung Gear Fit

At first glance, you might not immediately recognize the Samsung Gear Fit as a fully featured smart watch – its long, 1.84” AMOLED digital screen looks like it belongs on an activity monitor. But really, that’s what the waterproof Gear Fit is – it’s an activity monitor for fitness fanatics that doubles as a smart watch. It features an accelerometer, gyroscope and heart rate sensor to accurately track all your exercise. But it also has the smart watch features most buyers are looking for, like receiving emails and SMS messages, displaying call notifications and more. And it does it all at a killer price point.

The lightweight Samsung Gear Fit works with most Samsung Galaxy branded Android smartphones and tablets. You can find the Gear Fit at Amazon.com for just $133.37.

LG G Watch R

Looking for a smart watch with a more classic analog watch look? Check out the LG G Watch R. Like the Apple Watch, the water-resistant G Watch R tracks calories burned, sleep quality and other important health and fitness metrics. It runs Android Wear wearable operating system, so it runs a multitude of apps, including Google Maps, Edmondo Running and Facebook Messenger.

The sporty LG G Watch R is compatible with the Android phones running Android 4.3 and higher. It is available on Amazon.com for $299.

Moto 360

The Motorola Moto 360 is a beautiful smart watch that pairs with Android 4.3 smartphones and higher. It features a scratch-resistant, 1.5” circular touch screen, plenty of fitness tracking functions and face customization options, 512MB of RAM and the Android Wear wearable operating system. It can receive call alerts, text messages, social media updates, GPS directions and more. You can even send short messages via voice command.

The Moto 360 charges at night, though be forewarned – its battery life is less than stellar, especially if you use it often. Many owners complain that their Moto 360 dies before the end of the day (10 to 12 hours). Still, if you can handle this notable shortcoming, you can get this great smartwatch for just $179.00 on Amazon.

This article originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

TIME Gadgets

Google’s Android Wear Shipped Just 720,000 Units Last Year

Moto 360, Powered by Android Wear
Motorola A press handout photo shows Motorola's Moto 360 watch, powered by Android Wear, displaying a map.

Smartwatches have a long way to go before mass adoption

Google’s new line of smartwatches isn’t exactly flying off the shelves. According to research firm Canalys, 720,000 Android Wear watches were shipped in 2014. The most popular watch was Motorola’s round-faced Moto 360, though it faced supply constraints during the fourth quarter.

The figure gives Google about a 15% share of the total 4.6 million smart wearable bands that were shipped in 2014. Canalys also revealed that Pebble smartwatch, one of the earliest to market, shipped 1 million units from its launch in 2013 to the end of 2014.

So far, at least, smartwatches seem to be a long way off from reaching mass adoption. For comparison, vendors shipped about 230 million tablets and 1.3 billion smartphones worldwide last year, according to research firm IDC. The arrival of the Apple Watch in the spring will certainly increase the presence of smartwatches, but the devices still have a long way to go before becoming truly mainstream.

TIME technology

Three Ways Smartwatch Upstarts Can Survive the Apple-anche

Apple unveils new gadgets
Oscar Galvan Felez—Getty Images; Monica Davey—EPA Left: Pebble watch Right: Apple watch

The little guys who were on their way up the mountain now have to fight for air

The wearables market is technology’s latest battleground with small upstarts like Pebble and Omate, as well as early entrances from big players like LG, Samsung, and Google. Today, with their announcement of the Apple Watch, Tim Cook officially entered the race and upped the ante with Apple Pay. With Apple in the game, can a young, upstart company like Pebble, maker of the popular Pebble Steel smart watch, go the distance? Or will the small players with early leads get trampled?

In the technology world, the winners are rarely those with the best product, but rather those who have created the most ubiquitous platform. However, established companies that offer the advantage of experience often operate from a defender mentality – protecting their market leadership and brand. Small companies like Pebble offer a challenger mindset. Less tethered to existing platforms, they are free to push boundaries and explore new possibilities.

Consider the differences in how newcomers vs. veterans tend to think and act. I studied over 400 workplace scenarios inside corporations, comparing how inexperienced versus experienced professionals approach a particular type of work. My research shows that being a rookie – facing a new problem or a challenge for the first time – can provoke top performance. In knowledge work, rookies often outperform experienced players, particularly in the realm of innovation and speed.

Rookies tend to be unencumbered, with no resources to burden them and no track record to limit their thinking or aspirations. Because they face a daunting challenge, a desperation-based learning kicks in, causing them to work both hungry and smart. They reach out seeking guidance and feedback. They operate in lean, agile cycles and learn through experimentation and improvisation. While veteran players are pacing themselves for a marathon—rookies are sprinting.

Pebble CEO, Eric Migicovsky exemplifies much of this mentality that I call “rookie smarts.” When venture funding fell short of their need in 2012, he launched a Kickstarter campaign securing a record-breaking $10-million in crowdfunded cash. Migicovsky quickly ventured out of his native Ontario to scout for talent and build a network of advisors across Silicon Valley. When the company faltered from an early bet on the Blackberry platform, he quickly course-corrected and rebuilt the device to pair with Android and iPhone handsets. Through scrappy, fast, but smart action, Pebble boasts over 400,000 users.

Rookies can certainly outperform the incumbents, but they can also flame out fast or fail to marshal the resources needed to sustain victory in the long haul.

Newcomers like Pebble have several options:

  1. Find a new game. Rather than to go head-to-head with the bigger, established players, upstarts like Pebble may be better suited to continue playing the challenger role but in a different corner of the market.
  1. Stay in the race and compete on innovation and speed. With their small size and agile cycles, start-ups may be able to move faster and build a loyal fan base for their device and platform. But, even if they can out-innovate a proven innovator like Apple, it is only a matter of time before Apple produces a more distinctly wearable device and ubiquity beats out ingenuity. Without a partner to achieve scale, they will likely become another casualty along the path of technology evolution. They will have labored to loosen the lid, and then the veteran player will move in and open the jar.
  1. Play on a larger team. By partnering with or being acquired by a big infrastructure player, a start-up like Pebble can combine their fast-cycle innovation and rookie smarts with the critical mass of an established company. As the market continues to consolidate around platforms, the final victors are likely to be the established companies who can acquire the upstart leaders and then embed and nurture this rookie thinking inside their own company.

With today’s announcement, it is tempting to assume Apple will repeat its winning streak and will dominate not only the e-payment market but also the wearable technology market that allows users even greater ease and visibility to these transactions. But it’s too early in the race to dismiss the challengers. If companies like Pebble are in it for the long haul, they will need to do more than just think like rookies and sprint for 26.2 miles. To win big, they need to draw on the strength of the peloton and pair their capability with the power, savvy, and resources of industry veterans – those who are defining the rules. The challengers may stand ready to change the world, but they will need the help of those who know how this world works.

Liz Wiseman is the author of Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work and is a former executive at Oracle Corporation.

TIME Big Picture

3 Things Smartwatches Need to Be Ready for Prime Time

Inside The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show
Patrick T. Fallon—Bloomberg/Getty Images Paul Jacobs, chairman and chief executive officer of Qualcomm Inc., wears a Toq smartwatch while speaking during a Bloomberg Television interview.

The smartwatch has become a valuable tool that meets some key needs during my busy day. However, we are years away from smartwatches becoming items that a broad audience will accept.

I have become very interested in smartwatches. Over the past six months or so, I have intermittently been using the Pebble watch, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and Qualcomm’s TOQ, and I have come to the conclusion that smartwatches really are important tools that could enhance one’s digital lifestyle.

The first thing I realized when I unboxed the first generation of Pebble’s smartwatch was that it was geeky looking. It’s not very fashionable. For male geeks this might be OK, but for the masses, I saw it as a real problem. I also quickly discovered that its functionality was very limited. I knew this at a high level, but once I started wearing it, I really saw its shortcomings — especially its weak app ecosystem and the difficulty of getting apps onto the Pebble itself.

On the other hand, since this first version sent alerts of my messages and was tied to the walking app on my iPhone, I came to quickly appreciate how it impacted my interaction with my smartphone. The good news for potential Pebble buyers is that the Pebble is getting smarter every month and the company’s new app store is quite nice, although it’s still very limited as to what’s available. Despite a style upgrade earlier this year, Pebble watches are still for male geeks and will not attract many women in their current forms. But over time, I’m sure Pebble will try and make its products more stylish in order to attract more people — men and women, alike — to the platform.

Late last year, I got a chance to test Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch. This watch has been deemed a failure by the tenchnorati since its design is even geekier than the Pebble, and the early version was only tied to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphone. Since its release, the Gear now supports a few other Samsung smartphones such as the popular Galaxy S4. Also, the software was very unstable at first, and since this was what early testers were using to write reviews, they basically buried it before it had a chance to get better. I have actually become fond of its functionality, although it still needs much improvement.

I also have been testing Qualcomm’s TOQ smartwatch. This watch is a work in progress and has some good features, but it lacks in some areas, too.

At CES in early January, a bunch of new smartwatches were introduced, and it’s inevitable that many more smartwatches will come out this year to try to tap into a potential market for these wearable devices. I feel that unless they nail both form and function, most smartwatches will still be for geeks and never get a following with a broad audience. Many hope that Apple applies its design genius to a smartwatch; I, too, hope that’s in the cards. But after using three smartwatches for an extended period of time, I have come to believe that for them to be relevant to more than a geek audience, they have to address three major usability and design issues.


The first is design itself. Most women would not be caught dead wearing the current crop of smartwatches. Actually, most men wouldn’t wear the current crop of smartwatches, either. While people buy watches to tell time (and in most cases, that’s a watch’s only function), the number one criteria in choosing a watch for most people is how it will look. It’s a fashion statement, not a technology one. That is why there are thousands of watch designs available, and almost all are based on how the watch looks on the wrist. Many people have more than one watch to match certain occasions. Unfortunately when tech companies create smartwatches, their design goals center on the electronics. Design is secondary, at best. If smartwatches are to ever reach broad market potential, design and function must be equally important.


The second thing that’s important: killer apps. While there may be plenty of apps, the killer app for me is the ability for a smartwatch to alert me to incoming messages and emails. Like most people, I live a very busy life. Especially during the day, I am in and out of meetings, driving to meetings, working at my desk or talking to people, and taking my phone out of my pocket to check messages and email is often difficult. This is especially true when driving or in a meeting. The smartwatch is just a wrist screen that is tied to my smartphone’s screen, serving as a sort of wrist voyeur for what is in my pocket. For me, that’s worth the price of these smartwatches, since it delivers exactly what I want in all types of business, social and even entertainment environments. I also like the fact that the three smartwatches mentioned above have a watch face that includes outside temperatures. We call this “at-a-glance” computing: a simple glance gives me key bits of information that are important to me throughout my day. Of course, I could just pull out my smartphone and get the same info, but that’s not always appropriate. In fact, it’s illegal when driving and it’s rude when in meetings.


The third important thing: an ecosystem to support these apps. Apps need to be extremely simple to find, buy and load onto a smartwatch. Samsung has done a relatively good job with this in the Gear store, and getting apps onto the Gear is painless since it is done wirelessly and automatically. However, for smartwatches to truly become utilitarian, they eventually need to be standalone devices that can be connected to Wi-Fi or through cellular networks to gain access to a cloud-based way to download apps — not forced to connect through a smartphone. If I forget my smartphone for some reason, these watches in their current form are simple bricks that just tell time and have maybe have a few apps that can stand on their own.

I also see a dedicated ecosystem of services designed just for smartwatches as important to the category’s ultimate potential. New user interfaces such as voice and gestures will need to be applied to smartwatches for them to become easier to use for a mass market.

After wearing multiple smartwatches for the last six months, I have come to see that, in many ways, they represent a revolutionary new way to get info and data. In fact, smartwatches will most likely be the catalysts to launching ‘”glanceable” screens in which their functions are focused on just giving us key bits of data in a timely manner that we can use to initiate other tasks, like reading an important email.

I have become a believer in smartwatches. For me, at least, the smartwatch has become a valuable tool that enhances my smartphone experience and meets some key needs during my busy day. However, we are years away from smartwatches becoming items that a very broad audience will accept and buy. At the very least, smartwatch makers must address the three key issues stated above. More importantly, smartwatches need standalone platforms upon which to innovate, so that the kinds of killer apps and services that return real value to people can be delivered.

Bajarin is the president of Creative Strategies Inc., a technology industry analysis and market-intelligence firm in Silicon Valley. He contributes to Big Picture, an opinion column that appears every week on TIME Tech.

TIME Gadgets

Pebble’s Steel Smartwatch Is Fine, but the Real News Is the New Pebble Appstore

Harry McCracken / TIME

ESPN, Foursquare, Yelp and much more are about to land on your wrist.

For many Kickstarter products, the greatest day of their lives comes when they get shipped to the patrons who backed them on the crowdfunding site. And then nobody ever hears much of anything from them again.

That hasn’t been true with the Pebble smartwatch, though. In 2012, it made headlines by being one of the most successful Kickstarter projects of all time. But after shipping to Kickstarter backers, the company that makes Pebble just kept going, getting its watches into big retail stores and releasing meaty software updates.

Now Pebble is making its biggest moves yet. It’s releasing a new watch, the $249 Pebble Steel. The name tips you off about what’s new about the model, which will be sold on Pebble’s site alongside the still-available $150 classic Pebble.

The company is also getting ready to make all its smartwatches a lot smarter, by launching a Pebble Appstore, which should be live soon. For the first time, it’ll be easy to find third-party apps and install them on the watch. And the software you’ll be able to get will include bigger names — such as Yelp, Foursquare, ESPN and GoPro — and richer capabilities than anything that’s been available so far.

Featurewise, the Steel is the same beast as the original Pebble, with the same monochrome E Ink display, four-button interface, 5-to-7-day battery life, capabilities and apps. Like its predecessor, it talks to the Pebble smartphone app, available for iOS and Android, over Bluetooth, and puts tiny chunks of information — like notifications of incoming calls, text messages and e-mails — on your wrist.

But instead of being ensconced in a bulky plastic case in one of five colors, all this stuff is now part of a somewhat less bulky steel watch in brushed stainless or black matte variants. Both Steel variants have displays protected by abuse-proof Gorilla glass, are waterproof to 5 ATM and come with two bands: a dressy leather one and a sportier one made out of metal links.

Does building a Pebble out of metal rather than plastic make it look classier? Yes, but no wrist-worn gadget with a big monochrome screen is going to exude understated elegance. It’ll always look like a digital watch — which makes sense, because that’s what the Pebble is, among other things. And though the Steel is a bit svelter than the first Pebble, it’s still big, thick and boxy. It’ll call attention to itself, especially if your wrist is on the petite side.

At $249, the Steel is bumping up against the high end of the price range that a device with the Pebble’s current capabilities is worth. But the good news is that apps from the new Appstore should make this watch more useful over time. And the even better news is that all of Pebble’s software and service improvements are available for both the Steel and the original $149 version.

Until now, there’s been no one place to go for Pebble apps, which made finding and installing them a bit of an adventure. With the Appstore, which is built into the iOS and Android apps, it’s a cakewalk. The store, which should go live soon, is already packed with offerings, all of which are free.

Pebble says that thousands of apps, games and watch faces have already been submitted for approval. But you can only install eight apps on your smartwatch at a time, so the smartphone app now includes a “locker” which lets you keep apps on hand without actually putting them on the watch. It’s easy to shuffle them between the watch and the locker.

One of Pebble’s defining features its its minimalism. Unlike Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, which sports a color touchscreen, camera and fancy apps, Pebble watches and the software they run are happy to err on the side of simplicity. Basically, their overarching goal is to let you keep tabs on your world without removing your smartphone from your pocket or purse quite so often.

So most of the new apps I tried were really, really simple. The ESPN app, for instance, lets you select one sports league, then shows you scores and that’s about it. 7-Minute Workout shows you basic exercises, then uses the watch’s motion detector to detect that you’re doing with them.

Twebble, a Twitter client is surprisingly full-featured. You can even post tweets from the watch, although entering each character requires multiple presses of the watch’s buttons. (Oh, and I couldn’t figure out how to enter a space.)

The thing that’s tough about minimalism is that you need to be just minimalist enough without overdoing it. Foursquare, which lets you quickly check into any nearby business, does the trick: That’s all the Foursquare anybody really needs on their wrist. But Yelp — even though it has more features than Foursquare — feels incomplete. It’s good for tracking down something like a nearby Starbucks or Chipotle, but too skimpy to help you decide where to have dinner. (It doesn’t show what sort of food a restaurant serves, and the reviews are so truncated that they’re not very useful.)

Beyond the Appstore and the new apps it offers, another new feature in Pebble’s software update makes a major difference: It’s now possible to scroll back through notifications which have arrived recently. (Until now, if you weren’t paying attention when one arrived, you’d just miss it.) However, the notifications remain so terse — sometimes the subject lines of e-mails get cut off in mid-sentence — that they sometimes get chopped off before they’ve told you what you want to know.

In short, Pebble is still an intriguing work in progress — as is the entire smartwatch category, really. It’s fun and handy as is, and the $150 pricetag of the original model is a deal. If you’re wavering, wait: If the Appstore and the wares it offers live up to their promise, both the first Pebble and the Steel will just keep getting more useful in the months to come.

TIME Big Picture

Pebble and Glyph: How Crowdfunding Is Creating Disruptive New Products

Avegant An early prototype of Avegant's "Glyph" mobile personal theater.

Two crowdfunded projects that opened up new categories of devices.

While a lot of people watch TV or YouTube or spend their downtime resting or playing, I find that I can be highly entertained by surfing the various crowdfunding sites that have popped up on the Internet over the past few years.

For most of my 33-year career, when entrepreneurs wanted to start a new business or create a new product, they had to go to venture capitalists, funding angels, banks, or in some cases even mortgage their houses to start up their businesses. Although this has been effective for many, thousands of others who had product ideas could not muster up the funding needed, and many products or service ideas died before they ever even had a chance to be created.

Then a few years back, a new source for startup funding popped up: crowdfunding. At its core, a crowdfunding site serves as a kind of clearing house for people with new product ideas that span everything from gadgets to games to books to movies and many more projects for which a person needs funding to bring an idea to life. One of the leading sites is Kickstarter, a service that got major public attention when it was used to crowdfund the Pebble smartwatch.

Here’s the quick version of Pebble’s funding story, according to Wikipedia:

Pebble Technology launched a Kickstarter campaign on April 11, 2012 with an initial fundraising target of $100,000. Backers spending $115 would receive a Pebble when they became available ($99 for the first 200), effectively pre-ordering the $150 Pebble at a discounted price. Within two hours of going live, the project had met the $100,000 goal, and within six days, the project had become the most funded project in the history of Kickstarter, raising over $4.7 million with 30 days left in the campaign.

On May 10, 2012, Pebble Technology announced they were limiting the number of pre-orders. On May 18, 2012, funding closed with $10,266,844 pledged by 68,928 people.

I wanted a good smartwatch, so when I saw it was live, I paid my $115 and was lucky enough to be in one of the first groups to receive the Pebble when it shipped. Since the Pebble started shipping, dozens of other smartwatches have been announced. Kickstarter and Pebble will always be seen by many as ground-zero for the smartwatch market — a market many believe will become a very big segment in the emerging wearable computing arena.

I also like perusing Indiegogo, another crowdfunding site, and Quirky, a site for crowdsourced product ideas. The folks from Mashable listed some other sites that do crowdfunding and are worth checking out.

Since my first backing of a product through Kickstarter, I have found at least a dozen other products that I wanted from various crowdfunding sites, and I continue to look for cool new things that are of interest to me. I also am highly interested in products that not only get major attention but that also get funded fast, since they often represent a product that could impact the future of the product category they represent. This was very true with the Pebble smartwatch: The short time it took the watch to reach its funding success suggested to us researchers that the Pebble struck a nerve with the public. The smartwatch category could potentially be big.

At CES there was a product launched from a company called Avegant: the Glyph. It went live on Kickstarter less than a week ago and met its funding goal of $250,000 within 4 hours. It holds the record for reaching a goal of $250,000 the fastest — done in 3 hours and 56 minutes. (Pebble’s goal was only $100,000 but was reached in two hours.)

The Glyph looks like a high quality stereo headset, but with a fascinating twist to its design. You pull the headpiece down over your eyes and it turns into a set of video monitors to deliver a cinema-like experience, with video content that can come from a smartphone, tablet or PC. It can be connected to the HDMI port on PCs and uses HDMI mini adapters to work with tablets and smartphones. Unlike another head-mounted display from Oculus, the Glyph works with any existing content in Windows, Android and iOS. Software has to be written for the Oculus platform and its focus is specifically on gaming.

Although the Glyph project is still a prototype, the alpha version I played with was very impressive. In headphone mode, it looks and works just like a high-end stereo noise-canceling headset with a battery life of 48 hours. But when you flip the headband down over your eyes, it turns it into a 2D or 3D screen, depending on the content (if you connect it to a 3D DVD player, the content is shown in 3D, for instance). One downside from the first generation is that it has only three hours of battery life in video mode.

The alpha model I tested was also a bit heavy, but the folks from Avegant say that when it’s released this fall, it will be thinner and lighter and will fit better than the alpha model. One other important feature is that it includes diopter controls, so that regardless of your prescription, you can fine tune it so that if you wear glasses you won’t need them.

Once I used the Glpyh, I really wanted one. As a traveler that puts 100,000+ miles under my belt each year, I could see using this while on planes as my audio headset and also my video screen. Although I do use laptops or even my iPad Air for watching movies when traveling, the cinema-like experience that the Glyph delivers is more enticing to me. Its $495 price is also impressive. A good set of noise-canceling headphones costs around $399. For $100 more, you get the cinema video feature, too. It also works with games. Pull one of the games up on a smartphone or tablet, and the Glyph delivers a cinematic view of the game you’re playing, and the smartphone or tablet becomes the controller. Although travelers and gamers might represent its initial audience, I see this product as having a very broad appeal, too.

While Google Glass and other glasses and video-specific goggles will have a place in the market, the Glyph delivers what I think is the next major innovation in headsets. The screens on smartphones and small tablets are just not optimal for delivering really good movie, video or gaming experiences. The Glyph delivers those experience along with a great audio experience. It would not surprise me if many of the top of the line headsets eventually deliver similar video viewing features as part of their offerings, since the Glyph delivers quite a compelling concept for mobile entertainment. The product’s first-mover position will have a big impact on how consumers view this audio/video category in the future.

This is a product to watch since it could become another crowdfunded project that opens up a whole new category of devices.

Bajarin is the president of Creative Strategies Inc., a technology industry analysis and market-intelligence firm in Silicon Valley. He contributes to Big Picture, an opinion column that appears every week on TIME Tech.

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