My Pebble Smartwatch isn't essential. It's not life-changing. There's (almost) nothing I can do with it that I couldn't do before.
And yet it has fitted smoothly into my life, made certain things a lot easier, and removed a source of nagging distraction which used to sit constantly at the back of my mind.
Its basic functionality is simple: It tells me the time. Or the time and the date. Or the time, the date, the weather, and my next appointment (I haven't actually got around to setting that one up yet). That's pretty neat, but I stopped wearing a watch that told me the time when I first started carrying a phone all the time.
The cool thing it does is connect to my phone (over Bluetooth) and tell me when notifications arrive. There's a very slight buzz (which I could disable), and then the screen shows me the first hundred-odd characters of whatever just arrived - be it an email, text, tweet, FB notification, or whatever else I set my phone up to pass over.
There are two reasons this is a pretty neat idea:
1) I no longer find myself checking my phone every three* minutes to see if someone has emailed me with something important. If someone has sent me something then my wrist will buzz.
2) The battery on my phone lasts longer. Battery is largely sucked down by the screen being on (and interacted with, I think). By reading things on my wrist I play with it less, and the battery seems to last between 30% and 50% longer each day.**
I've also found that I like having the time on my wrist, and not having to get my phone out of my pocket. Which wouldn't be enough to put up with the sensation of having a thing strapped to my wrist all by itself*** - but is a nice bonus along with (1) and (2).
Is it worth $150?
Probably not for that many people. If the idea of your notifications being more easily available to you is one that makes you happy, then yes. If you want to try out a new tech toy, then yes. Next year's version will undoubtedly be better - but this is the first smartwatch I've seen that was actually worth having at all. By keeping things simple (no touch-screen, no camera) they've made it trivial to use and light in weight and battery usage****.
Recommended: For the kind of people that like this kind of thing.
*This number varies, depending on whether I'm expecting something stressful to arrive in my inbox.
**The battery on the watch lasts 3-5 days, because it's a simple LCD with a backlight that comes on only briefly, and only when necessary.
***I really don't like "sensations" most of the time. I can deliberately delight in nice sensations, but most of the time I find them distracting, slightly uncomfortable, and I never fully adjust to them. Which is why I fidget a lot - I'm always trying to get comfortable, and never quite there.
****The Galaxy Gear weighs 50% more, and runs out of battery twice as fast.
Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comments there.