We saw quite a few different takes on the smartwatch in 2013, and we're sure to see quite a few more in 2014. But easily one of the highest-profile players so far has been Pebble. The popular startup just did as many companies at CES do, and announced a brand new version of its popular product. Meet Pebble Steel.
Pebble Steel isn't quite a second-generation model; it's more like a premium version of the Pebble we already know. Pebble Steel has the same black & white e-paper screen, the same 5 atm water resistance, and the same handy shake wrist, turn on backlight feature as the original.
But on the outside, everything's different. That screen is now protected by a strong layer of Corning Gorilla Glass. The watch's housing is now made of stainless steel, and sold in two different versions (Brushed Stainless and Black Matte). There's even an RGB LED in the watch's lower left corner that lets you know when it's charging.
Pebble Steel's band didn't just receive an upgrade from the rubbery one attached to the O.G. Pebble. Pebble Steel actually includes two bands. Yep, each of the new models ships with both a metallic band (matching the finish of the housing you choose) and a black leather strap. Many of the early smartwatches let you swap bands, but this is the first time we've seen one that includes more than one option right in the box.
As you might expect, Pebble Steel is a bit pricier than the original. Fortunately, though, the company managed to only tag on an extra US$100, with Steel ringing up for $250. Considering that the Galaxy Gear and Martian retail for $300 and the Qualcomm Toq for $350, that's not too shabby. And when you consider that Pebble has an open-source SDK and the best software support of any smartwatch (all of which is still compatible with the new Steel), it's looking like a promising start for 2014 wearables.
Pebble's app store, which will be integrated into the official companion app for iOS and Android, will also be launching by the end of the month. We'll be sitting down with the folks from Pebble later this week, so keep an eye out for some hands-ons. In the meantime, you can check out Pebble's launch video below.