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Pebble Time Steel


A year ago I made the upgrade to a Pebble Time Steel. I really have fallen in love with the Pebble smartwatch, and Android Wear of the Apple iWatch were no valid candidates due to their shortcomings in battery life & user interfaces. The PTS upgrades the Pebble experience finally with a color screen (though the readability indoors is disappointing), and the smartwatch really looks like a watch now (Pebble OG looked like plastic toy). This thing survives nine days on a single charge which is one of the main advantages of Pebble hardware. I could never support a daily charge cycle on a smartwatch, which makes the Pebble Round (2 days on a charge) a no-go.

However, Pebble Time still has its drawbacks : it carries a large bezel (which is now addressed in Pebble Time 2), and the screen resolution remains far below Android/Apple competing devices.

The largest surprise was the Pebble Timeline in firmware 3.x : it carries your whole daily agenda on a glance within a single button press, and this has become one of the most pleasant features of the smartwatch.



The smart phone market is saturated : nowadays, everyone and their mums and dads are having smartphones. So for tech companies, bringing new stuff onto the market isn't so easy anymore. In the past, it was just all about increasing the size of mobile devices, but in most countries, the size of the smartphone seems to have hit the 5 inch barrier, above which most consumers find a phone too large.

That's why manufacturers are pushing the smart watch so much : if you believe them, 2014 will be the boost year for wearable devices. After all, Google will release its Glass device into the wild. However, most smart watch prototypes seem more like a mini smartphone on your wrist. Large bulky devices, with touch screens and too much functionality crammed into a too small screen.

This is where the Pebble shines : with its black and white screen in low resolution, it seems almost a mockery, as someone jestingly released a mini Palm Pilot for your wrist. But by keeping the functionality down, Pebble tries to focus onto the core features of what defines a smartwatch : mostly, it's a watch, and not a mobile phone strapped onto your wrist.

It took a while before I took the plunge, and decided to buy a Pebble. So far, I don't regret it : being able to glance to my wrist in order to see what notifications I received on my phone is a gods gift. It is by far the killer feature of the device; something so banal, it's almost incredible, and by far the biggest surprise of the Pebble. Another killer feature are the watch faces : I like watches, and the Pebble offers thousands of creative and sometimes funny ways of depicting the time of day. And the standby time really is stellar : after the first charging, the device was able to hold on for an astonishing 6 days, despite some quite heavy usage.

But the Pebble also has drawbacks, and that seems logical for a technology so young. By far, the Android experience is a bit of a let down : the SDK2.0 offers way more functionality than it predecessor, but the accompanying app on Android (including a real app store), is still in beta, which results in connectivity drops, a slow app market experience and high smart phone battery usage. Granted, the app is still young and in beta, so pointing this out as a large drawback may be a bit unfair. Another thing which irritates me is the 8-app barrier that is built into the device : it can only hold 8 watch faces or apps, which is at least two times too small.

Pimp Star


I've allways had a knack for wrist watches. They are cheap little devices packed with technology. Just as our mobile phones are, albeit in a less cheaper form. Unfortunately, lots of the watch functionality has been taken over by our mobile phones, cause the watch has a screen that can hardly be expanded, and having limited input functionalities. Which left the watch with basic hour-telling functionalities.

Watch makers have responded to this trend by creating watches in specific designs, giving the watch some sort of exclusivity, targeting specific end user groups. Tokyo Flash is a Japanese shop which creates wrist watches with the purpose of making hour-reading seemingly as daunting as possible. This resulted in handless wrist watches, including LED based watches which tell the time in binary form, having a form factor raising from a metallic plate with drilled holes in it, to metallic cylinders with moving LEDs.

I bought myself the Pimp Star Performer, a 44LED based watch with 4 columns each indicating a portion of the time. The watch lights up one number in each column in a Matrix like animation to tell the time. For example: 1-2-5-3 would be 12:53. Some fun stuff is present like a PM indicator in the shape of a martini glass, as PM stands for drinking time.

Argentum line


Do you really need a 40.000$ Leatherman ? Before you say no, have a look at their Argentum line.

DVB-T on the eeePC


I acquired a Freecom DVB-T USB stick. This should extend the possibilities of my eeePC with digital TV capabilities, and make it into a better mobile device. I originally anticipated to get the ASUS U3000 (perfectly supported by Linux), but as these things go, the Loveno shop didn't had these in stock. Finding stuff like this which works flawlessly in Linux isn't easy, so I wasn't happy when I found out I got the Freecom revision 4 model, carrying the RTL2831U chipset, which isn't yet supported. Luckily, I stumbled upon this Ubuntu forum thread, which offers a quick and dirty workaround for Hardy.

After plugging in the stick, only thing left is firing up Kaffeine, and choose a dvb-t region file. After that, I tried scanning with the supplied little aerial antenna, but didn't received any channel. Only after I engaged a decent antenna with amplifier, all channels from the vrt and rtbf mux became available.


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