With Its New Steel Smartwatch, Pebble Gets Classy

Same technology, same apps -- and a sleek new metal case.

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Startup Pebble has sold 300,000 units of its $150 smartwatch. Which, given that smartwatches remain a bleeding-edge product category, qualifies as a hit.

At CES in Las Vegas, the company is unveiling its first new watch since the original model which began as a Kickstarter phenom. It’s called Pebble Steel, and much remains unchanged, including the power-efficient monochrome E Ink screen, pushbutton controls, water-resistant case, ability to work with iPhones and Android phones, and run apps from Pebble and other companies.

But as the name “Pebble Steel” indicates, the new model has a new case made out of stainless steel. Even though the screen remains the same size, the watch itself is considerably sleeker than the first model, which is made of plastic and unapologetically chunky. Eric Migicovsky, Pebble’s CEO, told me that it’s designed to appeal to folks who want a dressier watch.

Two models will be available: a brushed steel one and one with a tough matte black coating applied via physical vapor deposition technology. They’ll go for $250 — a hundred bucks more than the first model, which remains available — and come with swappable leather and metal bands.

Pebble plans to start shipping the Steel on January 28, and for the time being, it’ll be available only from the company’s site. Late January is going to be a bustling time for Pebble in general: The company also intends to launch its app store then, with ambitious new apps from partners such as Yelp. And it’ll release an update to the watches’ software which will allow you to review notifications that arrive while you weren’t looking — a feature which you’d sort of assume Pebble would have had all along, but is only now arriving.

MORE: Check out TIME Tech’s complete CES coverage


The new Pebble is still at a premium price for a smartwatch with a fairly low resolution black and white display with no touchscreen -- one new alternative  is the SmartQ Z-Watch that compares to the Sony Galaxy smartwatch in terms of high end features but at nearly half the price. 

The new SmartQ Z-Watch ($155) offers an innovative smartwatch from Smart Devices, a company that introduced the world's first tablet with a built in DLP projector - winning a prestigious 2013 CTIA E-Tech Award; and now its Smart Q Z-watch is gaining notice for its features and design, and offering a high-performance 1 Ghz processor, a super high resolution color touchscreen display; and works with Android smartphones -- with an O/S update to work with Apple's iOS  available at the end of January.   Smart Devices is also launching an App store this month, after accepting hundreds of developer applications in November.

One source for the new SmartQ Z-Watch is -- Tab l et Sp r int-- which also adds in an MP3 earphone kit as part of an introductory promotion; plus features an aluminum band strap for $25 that gives the Z-Watch a premium look.