Pebble Watch

The Pebble watch has landed. Finally. Well, it landed for me on July 15. So now, after more than a month with the Pebble, here's my review.

I was going to do the good, the bad, and the ugly, but there's really only the good and the bad.

First, what is the Pebble Watch?

The Pebble Watch is a digital watch that interacts with iPhone and Android smartphones. In May 2012, Pebble successfully funded their Kickstarter project with over $10,000,000 from over 68,000 backers. Kickstarter is a website where companies and individuals can get funding for their projects from all over the world, normally by giving incentives to those that "back" them. (side note: I had the honor of making the Kickstarter video for the successful "Amazing Fist" project, a comic book written by my friend Adam Messinger, illustrated by Matthew Farnsworth, and inked by Frank Stone.)

First, the bad.

I missed backing the campaign by just  weeks and ended up pre-ordering instead. I pre-ordered in June 2012. At the time, they estimated a late 2012 launch. The company hadn't officially been launched and they had only built prototypes before the massively successful Kickstarter campaign. They still hadn't determined who would manufacture the watch, or how it would be manufactured.

The updates started to come in. With each of them came a later launch date. First 2012 was a no-go, then early 2013, then Spring 2013. While the early updates seemed to have some details, time eroded not only my hopes, but also any concrete date when my wrist would actually meet my Pebble.

I was finally charged for my Pebble in January 2013 and was promised that my watch would soon be ready.

Then nearly all communications ceased. No responses to my Facebook messages or e-mails for months. They had originally promised that they would send regular updates via e-mail so it was disappointing that after I paid I heard nothing from them.

pebble emails mattbeckwith

Then, in late May 2013 I received the message that I had been waiting for: my Pebble would be shipping SOON!

Pebble then announced that they would be selling black Pebbles in Best Buy stores across the country. They assured backers and pre-order customers that this was in the best interest of everyone, and that this move would mean we would get our Pebbles sooner - easing the stress off the supply chain or something like that. My pre-order was for a grey watch, but I was invited to request a refund from the company and then could go buy a black one in a Best Buy.

The salt in the wound came from the CEO and founder, Eric Migicovsky. On July 4, 2013, featured a piece titled , "Deconstructing Pebble's Mainstream Push", where the CEO said he was unfazed by complaints.

"Migicovsky is unfazed with the complaints. Because Pebble charges a customer’s credit card only after their watch is ready to ship, he says that those who pre-ordered Pebble have not paid in advance. Availability of Pebble at a local Best Buy, thus, makes it quicker and easier for such customers to buy the watch, he adds."

Unfazed with the complaints. That is something no company should ever aspire to be.

Clearly, the second sentence was factually incorrect; I had paid for my watch six months before.

And what did "shipping soon" mean? Six weeks. On July 12, my Pebble shipped. I received it just a few days later.


The good

Thankfully, once I received the Pebble watch, the story began to improve. That is, after I unpacked the watch from the box. No aesthetically pleasing packaging here. Just a watch stuck in a box. Stuck to a box that was also the shipping container to be more precise.

Within a couple of minutes of getting the watch out of the box it was on my wrist and working. It didn't require much setup other than discovering it as a bluetooth device from my iPhone.

Text notifications work great. I have always preferred getting no alerts for e-mail, no buzz, no sound, no dancing paper-clip or other animation on my computer, nothing. I have, though, used the built-in VIP feature within iOS to get notified when I receive e-mail from certain people. That works great because my family and close friends don't often e-mail me, but when they do, I can get a notification on my watch.

I don't carry my iPhone with my all day long. I usually throw it on my desk when I get to work (well, more like slide it on the desk) and only rarely look at it. Now, if I am within bluetooth range of my phone I'll get my text and e-mail alerts to my Pebble. I like that it gives a short vibration, but somedays I turn that off.

I really like having caller ID on my watch. My phone doesn't ring when I get a call (or make any noise for anything) and only sometimes do I have it vibrate when I get a call. That means I actually miss a lot of calls. Well, I miss a lot fewer calls now that my Pebble tells me I am getting a call. Although it is supposed to work with the latest version of the Pebble OS, it doesn't always give me the name of the caller (from my contact list), but the number is fine.

I really wanted the watch because I like the changeable watch faces, and those are great! Pebble doesn't offer many watch faces, but a third party site,, has a lot. I rotate through several throughout the week depending on what I'm doing.

There are apps, but it is still pretty limited. The RunKeeper app is great and works flawlessly. I hope someday they'll let me change the display to show current split pace rather than entire workout pace, but for a free app it works great. Plus, it convinced me to move from Strava to RunKeeper.

FreeCaddie is a great free golf app that I recently downloaded. I have never used my iPhone to get the distances while playing golf, but having it sent to my Pebble is nice.

I also really like being able to control my music from the Pebble. Works perfectly when I'm out on a bike ride, especially since I no longer have to ask Siri, "who sings this song?". The small added bonus of seeing the album name is cool, too.

Overall? Awesome first generation product! The lack of display colors is fine... but I'm sure that will evolve, if not by Pebble than likely by Apple or Google. I really, really, like having a watch that I can wear to work, as well as on a run, or a bike ride, or a swim (did I mention that it is waterproof - up to 5 ATM, which is great for wearing it while I swim or water the lawn, or get hit with an errant water balloon). The battery life is great, only having to charge it every few days or so.

For the price, $150, I have been very pleased with it. Every once in a while someone will compliment the watch, and then when I show them all the stuff it can do they usually have a very surprised reaction. I'm happy to have been an original pre-order customer.

I still can't seem to get the foul taste completely out of my mouth about how they treated me as a customer. They surely didn't treat me in a way that would cause me to be loyal to them. The Pebble watch is a great product but I'd feel a lot better about owning it if the company seemed to care about its customers.

Did you get one? What do you think? What do you think is next in the "wearable" market"

Check out for more details on the watch.


Stockton Stingrays Golf Tournament

This year, we brought 2 foursomes to the annual Stockton Stingrays golf tournament. With the Lyons closure, this year the tourney was held at Oakmoore Golf Course. The players

The Stingrays don't play golf, but they do drive the carts :-)

We took last and second-to-last place. But, with best-ball, we still did very well!

More pictures.


Stockton Stingrays Golf Tournament


Today, Mike, Manuel, Shawn and I played in the 2nd Annual Stockton Stingrays Golf Tournament, benefiting our local Beep Baseball team. Since it was a scramble tournament, I was feeling pretty good, knowing that my teammates would help carry me. I had a few good shots but the rest of the team shot pretty well.

How’d we finish? Well, if there was a trophy given for the most honest score, we would’ve certainly won it. We can in dead last with 65. It was a great day of golf helping a great group of athletes. Can’t wait ‘til next year.

Check out the pics here.

Why I Love Golf

For many years I did not understand the fascination my twin brother had with golf. He’s not one of those die hard golfers but has played for a decade or so. Walking around a big course chasing that little white ball seemed like a waste of a good day. Getting that ball in that little hole from hundreds of yards away seemed next to impossible. I knew enough to know it was not an easy skill to master. Having gone out to a driving range years before I could appreciate that swinging a club and controlling where the ball went was something that did not come natural to me.

Finally, last August, when JR was out from Texas, he and I joined Mike and Shawn for my first round of golf. I stepped out on the first tee box of the executive course at Swenson Golf Course, put the ball on the tee and grabbed a club from the bag Mike had “loaned” me. Of course, it was not the right club and Mike tossed me the 7 iron. I landed my very first shot on the green! Wow! I then proceeded to take 8 putts to sink it.


I have played a few times since then (ok, maybe more than a few times) and am really enjoying the game but I am a long, long way from being good. I love data and numbers and this new hobby gives me plenty of data to think about. At the rate I’m going I have some time before I start playing par golf.

Why do I love golf?

Golf is good exercise. It’s not a rigorous work out but playing the big course without a cart means more than 5 miles of walking, with a golf bag on my back.

There is no subjectivity. I either hit the ball where I wanted to or I didn’t. I either made it in 5 strokes or 9. When we actually keep score I know exactly where I ended, and how far I am from my goal. Data doesn’t lie.

There is great tradition in golf. My brother Mike has taught me the game by focusing on the rules and traditions first. He told me I can work on my approach, stance, grip and swing later - first I had to learn the social graces of the game. I’ve learned not to walk ahead of others in my group, shut up when someone’s taking their shot and never walk on someone’s line on the green.

Golf is a social sport. Like cycling, golf can be played alone but is better with good friends and family. Also, like cycling, I enjoy the game a lot more when I focus on what I’m doing and with whom I’m doing it. Plus, since I’ll never get Mike on a bicycle, it’s a good chance to spend a half-day with him.

Now, after six months, I no longer have to ask Mike or Shawn which club I should be using as I approach my next shot. That alone gives me a great sense of accomplishment. Now I must work on my short game.

Hit ‘em long.

Hit ‘em straight!