Category Archives: Wearables

Withings Activite Steel – Swiss Styled Watch with Activity Tracking / 8 months battery – Review

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Welcome to my review of the Withings Activite Steel watch. The key features are –

– Automatic activity tracking – Steps, runs, swims (water resistant – 50m) and calories burned
– Sleep monitoring – Sleep cycle analysis (light and deep sleep) plus silent vibrating alarm
– Automatic synchronisation – Visualise trends and data on your smartphone with the free Health Mate app available on iOS and android
– Premium materials – Stainless steel, chrome hands, silicon sport strap
No charging – Up to 8-month battery life

The Withings Activite Steel smartwatch is a breeze to setup. You download the Health Mate app, and follow the simple instructions. I was all setup within 5 mins. Syncing is done periodically during the day using Bluetooth Low Energy. This is an analogue, swiss style watch. The watch strap is easily removable with a built in slide pin. Withings sell leather straps made from quality Barenia leather from Haas Tanneries, the supplier of the finest French Haute Couture houses. Choice of black or tawny brown colours. A single leather strap is £100. The silcone strap is also replaceable with other colour straps. Withings sell a 3 pack of coloured silicone straps for £25. The colours are orange, plum and teal.

The watch has a dial for the hands and minute hands. The other dial moves from 0 to 100% of step target. On the app you set how many steps is you goal. The Health Mate app displays a whole range of data.

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The Health Mate app is elegantly designed, displays all your data, auto tracks exercises and shows the data for that exercise. GPS is not included.

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You can share your data, get competitive with friends and view different stats over various time periods.

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The first thing I noticed is the comfort of the strap. Next the watch size is much smaller than expected. In fact, I decided it was too small to look at on my wrist and lost interest in wearing it. In my mind a watch that is meant to look like a watch, needs to look cool and smart first. However, I think changing the strap for orange or black leather would be a better choice. I cannot believe this doesn’t need charging and lasts 8 months. This takes all the pain out of charging a tracker. In fact it never needs charging. It uses a standard watch battery which you replace after 8 months. Again, my main issue is the watch costs around £139 but just doesn’t look expensive enough. There is a Sapphire version which does look smarter. Some people will prefer the smaller size watch face. The strap is 18mm.

Despite its size, it is a wonderful activity / sleep tracker. I love how the analogue dial moves round showing you the percentage of your goal. Your step goal is set in the app. This is the first tracker that I didn’t feel the need to know my actual number of steps. This is shown when you open the app. I also like the simplicity of the watch. One last option is a silent alarm. Notifications are not possible.

Conclusion

For me the negatives were its small watch face and strap which made it look wrong on my wrist. For others this could be ok. As a tracking it worked well.

More info & latest pricing on Amazon UK

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Withings Activite Steel – Swiss Activity Tracker – First Impressions

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Welcome to my first impressions of the Withings Activite Steel watch. The key features are –

– Automatic activity tracking – Steps, runs, swims (water resistant – 50m) and calories burned
– Sleep monitoring – Sleep cycle analysis (light and deep sleep) plus silent vibrating alarm
– Automatic synchronisation – Visualise trends and data on your smartphone with the free Health Mate app available on iOS and android
– Premium materials – Stainless steel, chrome hands, silicon sport strap
No charging – Up to 8-month battery life

The Withings Activite Steel smartwatch arrived yesterday. Photo above shows watch on my wrist. Settings up is a breeze. You download the Health Mate app, and follow the simple instructions. I was all setup within 5 mins. Syncing is done periodically during the day using Bluetooth Low Energy. This is an analogue, swiss style watch. The watch strap is easily removable with a built in slide pin. Withings sell leather straps made from quality Barenia leather from Haas Tanneries, the supplier of the finest French Haute Couture houses. Choice of black or tawny brown colours. A single leather strap is £100. The silcone strap is also replaceable with other colour straps. Withings sell a 3 pack of coloured silicone straps for £25. The colours are orange, plum and teal.

The watch has a dial for the hands and minute hands. The other dial moves from 0 to 100% of step target. On the app you set how many steps is you goal. The Health Mate app displays a whole range of data, more of which I will cover off in my review.

The first thing I noticed is the comfort of the strap. Next the watch size is smaller than expected. I think changing the strap for orange or black leather would be a better choice. I cannot believe this doesn’t need charging and lasts 8 months. This takes all the pain out of charging a tracker. My main issue is the watch costs around £139 but just doesn’t look expensive enough.

However, seeing the analogue dial move round felt far less stressful than having an actual number of steps travelled on the screen. Opening the health app does reveal step count and more.

More soon.

More info & latest pricing on Amazon UK

Staying Fit & Healthy on iOS & Android – Editorial

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Apple uses the Health app to integrate other services and act as a hub. This makes sense to me. The Apple Watch acts as a fitness device and feeds basic information back into the Health app.

Google are trailing behind with their equivalent, Google Fit. But again, it is to serve the same purpose as Apple. Since Google where trailing behind, Samsung has powered ahead with its offering, S Health. It has come an awful long way in the last 4 months.

Samsung also sell a range of watches and fitness trackers.These are good devices.

Pictured above is the Garmin Fenix 3 HR. Probably one of the ultimate fitness devices on the market place, capable of so much and then some. Garmin also sell wireless scales. Garmin also sell a large range of activity devices and some of the best in class. There are many other brands too.

Other companies like FitBit also sell trackers and scales. In fact the market place is flooding with options but not everything plays nicely with each other. FitBit does not integrate with Apple Health app directly.

Why? The Health market and the data it will harness is worth millions. So before you decide what fitness or tracker you would like, ask yourself a few questions –

– What do you need it to do?
– What devices have your friends got, so if you need the social aspects, you all use the same brand
– What apps and services do you need the device to integrate into
– Apart from a fitness devices, do you need any other medical or fitness hardware / services. If so check which work with what.

So what devices are you using and why?

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 – Fitness on a Budget – Review

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Welcome to my review of the Xiaomi Mi Band 2.

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I managed to get mine from Everybuying for around £27 plus shipping. I used DHL and it arrived in a few days.

Specifications

– Bluetooth 4.0 v2,
– Languages English,Simplified Chinese
– Waterproof IP67
– Screen type OLED, Touch Screen
– Compatible OS Android,IOS
– Compatibility Android 4.4 / iOS 7.0 and above system
– Battery 70mAh
– Standby time 20 days max
– Charging time 3hours
– Special Features -Call reminder,Measurement of heart rate,Pedometer,Sleep management,SMS Reminding
– Alert type Vibration
– Dial and Band Shape of the dial Elliptical
– 235 mm total length
– 155 – 210 mm adjustable length
– Made of Thermoplastic elastomers, aluminium
– Weight 17g

The Mi Band 2 improves upon the original Mi Band in so many ways. For a start it has a heart rate sensor. It uses a military grade ADI sensor, ADI power efficient accelerometer, ADI heart rate sensor, the screen is resistant to fingerprints and scratches, the button is 0.05mm anodised. The screen is now OLED.

The displays shows Time, number of steps, Heart Rate, distance walked, calories burned, battery info and other data. You can see all these items by lifting your wrist or by using the capacitive button on the Mi Band 2 capsule. You can also customise which data content can be displayed on the Mi Band 2 display.

The Mi Band 2 has new software to calculate the number of steps. Versus my Garmin Fenix 3 HR it counted 200 more steps in a day. The software and design is meant to make the Mi Band 2 55% more power efficient.

Xiaomi state that when you run with Mi Band 2, it measures the pace of your run, monitors you Heart beat and it displays on the screen of Mi Band 2. Mi Fit generates the targeted run, recommends step program, suggests the required weight loss and ultimately increases your health efficiency. This functionality is not available on the Mi Fit app from the Google Play Store. The Mi Fit app (Chinese) version has considerably more functionality with mapping and more. Hence, why if you search on the Google Play Store there are a number of third party apps that fill this gap. These need updating for the Mi Band 2, but several developers are working on updating their apps to work with the new band. However, I have provided details of the Google Play app below.

As the module pops out, different coloured bands will be made available. The module connection is far more securer than the original band.

Mi Fit app.

Screenshot Gallery

The Mi Fit app does display a lot of information and does have auto tracking too which seemed to work ok. Sharing with twitter and facebook and other social networks is possible too. I thought the app notifications was dreadful. The Mi Band 2 displays “APP” and vibrates. Which app is your guess! It allows up to 5 apps to be selected. Samsung Email and Gmail was not showing as an option. In other words, don’t buy this for advanced app notifications.

The Mi Band 2 is new. From my testing the software and firmware need updates to fine tune and improve the tracker. Even so at under £30 it still offers a lot for a lot less than the competition. However, if you don’t want the hassle of software updates to fix, add & improve the new band then I suggest looking at options from FitBit or Garmin which may be a safer and easier option.

Video Review

The video below is an overview and unboxing to give you a better idea of the Mi Band 2.

Conclusion

The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is a low price fitness tracker. To get the most out of it, you might be looking at using Third Party apps if you are using the Google Play Store app version. App notifications are not its forte. But for under £30 you do get a lot.

As I mentioned at the start, I got my Mi Band 2 from Everybuying for around £27 plus shipping so do check out their store.

Update – Everybuying have offered a discount, if you use this code – EBMIBR2

Xiaomi Mi Band 2

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Yesterday my Mi Band 2 arrived.

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I managed to get mine from Everybuying for around £27 plus shipping. I used DHL and it arrived in a few days.

The Mi Band 2 includes a heart rate sensor and a lot more improvements which I will detail in my review.

For now I just wanted to know if anyone had any questions they would like answering in my forthcoming review.

If so leave the questions in the comments below.

Motorola Moto 360 Sport & Apple Watch – Review by Ian

Today, Ian reviews his Moto 360 Sport and compares it to his Apple Watch.

From Ian-

It’s been awhile since I’ve looked at Android Wear, I was an early adopter of the LG watch and Samsung Gear Live.

For the last year my Tag Heuer has been put away and My Apple Watch Sport has been my daily driver. But It’s a real love hate relationship. love the build, notifications and changeable straps. Hate the user interface and slow apps, the only one that I find useful is Heartwatch.

Motorola Moto 360 Sport Review photos - review on http://gavinsgadgets.com

So to the Moto 360 Sport, love the round screen and the amount interesting Watch faces. I can also live with the flat tire for the ambient light sensor. Android Wear on IOS is better than expected, provides me with the ability to change watch faces and all my notifications work as they do on my Apple Watch., but on a bigger screen. The downside is no third party apps.

The Moto 360 sport does come pre installed with Moto Body, a running app and also has integrated GPS. I did take it out for a run and compared to Runkeeper on the iPhone. Seemed to take ages to get a satellite lock, compared to my iPhone, the other data and reading from heart rate sensor was comparable to the iPhone with my chest strap. The Moto 360 Sport uses a ‘hybrid’ display, which combines a traditional LCD screen with reflective panel so reading in the sun is an ease, but can seem a little washed out compared to the Apple Watch.

Motorola Moto 360 Sport Review photos - review on http://gavinsgadgets.com

Overall an interesting alternative to the Apple Watch, really like the round screen, but the integrated rubber strap is not nice, picks up dust like you won’t believe. May look at the Huawei watch next or a dedicated Sports watch like the Garmin Fenix 3.

More info and the latest deals on Amazon UK – Click HERE.

HTC 10, Xiaomi Mi Max, LG G5, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, MS Lumia 950 and more – check out the latest on these phones

There have been many review recently published and many more coming soon. Below is a highlight of the reviews of all the smartphones recently published.

Apple iPhone 6S Plus – review

HTC 10 review

LG G5 – And All The Modules – review

LG V10 review

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL Review

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – The Experience

Xiaomi Mi Max review

Xiaomi Mi Max with MIUI v8

Phone Accessory Reviews

Samsung Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic review

Samsung Lens Cover – Closer Look at the Telephoto Lens

Samsung Lens Cover for S7 and S7 Edge review

Audio Reviews

iBasso DX80 with Chord Mojo – review

Pioneer XDP-100R – review

Chord Mojo – Review

Dragonfly Red – review

Fiio Q1 review

Oppo PM-3 Headphones – review

Security

Miguard A105 Security System

Netatmo Welcome – review

Piper NV HD Security System

Pebble announces Pebble Core, Time 2 & Pebble 2 – My Views

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Pebble announced the Pebble 2 ($99), Time 2 ($129) and Pebble Core ($69). The Pebble 2 goes looks like the original Pebble but this time adds a heart rate monitor. The Time 2 has a colour display with 50% more display and a battery that lasts up to 10 days. The Time 2 is currently only available in steel.

New to the table is the Pebble Core. Pebble has a Pebble Core for Runners and a Pebble Core for Hackers. The running version clips to clothing, and allows you to leave your phone at home as it has a sim card. You can stream spotify for example. The hackers version is a keychain computer that acts as a magic button for any command. Pebble also said Amazon’s Alexa voice will be added soon.

So what do I think. On paper these are ugly looking watches, especially the Pebble 2. But they are cheap and offer a range of functionality at this price. Pebble also seems to have cult status. The Pebble Core could become something useful and a just $69 is like a new iPod Shuffle with a modem.

Cheekily, it launched a Kickstarter campaign for each device. The target was $1m. As of typing this post it has smashed $1m and stands just under $5m.

So no matter what I think, Pebble has a niche market, a niche product already funded by a Kickstarter.

More information at Pebble Kickstarter

Garmin Vivoactive HR – First Impressions

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When it comes to fitness, Garmin was never the name that jumped up at me as the company to go and look at their product range.

I have owned around 13 different fitness / wearable devices and reviewed most of them too. Click HERE to read some of the previous reviews from Pebble, Samsung, Fitbit, LG, Xiaomi, Huawei, Acer and more.

And then I had some private conversations on Twitter with @paulgarner. Paul and I were chatting about fitness devices and he explained I should take a look at some of the Garmin devices as they were way better than any Apple Watch or Fitbit.

So last weekend, I visited Cotswolds Outdoors. They stock a large range of Garmin watches and fitness devices. Also quite handy was the sales person had excellent product knowledge of the different devices. One of the Garmin watches is called the Tactix Bravo. This watch includes live altitude tracking. This is handy when jumping out of a plane so you can check you altitude on the fly. Apparently the military use this model. It also looked amazing. However, I had decided if I was going to get a watch as opposed to a fitness device, it would have to be the new Fenix 3 HR or Forerunner 735XT.

However, I didn’t want to leap in at £350 – £500 in cost with the Fenix 3 HR or 735XT, so I opted for the new Garmin Vivoactive HR which retails for £209. It comes in 2 strap sizes – medium or X-Large. I needed the X-Large. The X-Large strap is perfect and after wearing the Vivoactive HR for 12 hours (6 hours in the evening, 6 hours sleeping) I am impressed at just how comfortable it is.

So what is special about the Garmin Vivoactive HR? Garmin state the following –

– GPS is integrated
– Its a smart watch with a sunlight-readable colour and touchscreen display – always on display
– Built-in-GPS sport apps, running, cycling, golf, swimming and activity tracking
– Elevate wrist based heart rate gives you heart rate all day and night – no additional strap required
– Receive smart notifications and smart coaching on your Vivo Active HR from Garmin Connect, when paired with your phone
– Syncs with Garmin Connect app to upload activities.
– Rechargeable battery: 8 days (watch/activity tracking mode) or 13 hours (GPS mode)

After some extensive research I also discovered that the Garmin Connect app is one of the best I have seen. It also integrates with MyFitnessPal. The level of detail and data collected is fantastic. I will cover more of this off in the review. Setting up is a breeze. This is done using the touchscreen display. There are also 2 hardware buttons as well. The setup uses Bluetooth Low Energy. After pairing, a firmware update was downloaded and installed. And then it stopped syncing with my LG G5. Grrrr. I thought I was going insane as nothing I was doing would get the device to sync. It turns up Garmin had planned maintenance on their servers for an hour yesterday. All seems ok now.

I had a brief look at the Garmin Store. Here there are several downloadable options from watch faces, apps, widgets and a few other items. I did install a few intelligent and customisable watch faces, but so far have now decided to stick with the traditional digital clock face.

I have turned on notifications and received a few whatsapp messages. These were displayed in full. I need to explore this option in more depth.

So what made me pick this over other brands? It works in the swimming pool. You certainly can’t take an Apple Watch or Samsung Gear S2 in the swimming pool, let alone get live activity and heart rate tracking. The display is highly readable in sunlight. Only needs recharging weekly. If I use the GPS function, this might mean charging every 4 days. If I don’t need the GPS, the battery life is 8 days with tracking and heart rate in operation 24 hours a day for 8 days. It tracks so many different activities too e.g. running, skiing, cycling and more. I had read it was comfortable to wear.

To read more about the Garmin range click HERE.

Good news for FitBit vs Jawbone – details

Fitbit scored a victory in a trade dispute against Jawbone this morning.

The judge ruled that some of the Jawbone patents at the heart of the dispute were invalid. Jawbone had been seeking to block Fitbit from importing its products into the U.S. based on the patent claims, but after today’s ruling, that looks less likely.

The fitness and health market is a big market and one where more battles are sure to be fought over time.

Source

Three UK launches “dial” – a smartwearable from will.i.am – full specs

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Three UK have launched “dial” produced by will.i.am.

This is dial, a voice-enabled smartcuff design from i.am+ the fashionology, tech company founded by musician and entrepreneur will.i.am. Available exclusively on Three UK.

To buy this you will need a plan with prices starting at £22 per month with a £49 upfront fee, or £25 per month with a one-off, £19 payment. That’s right it needs a SIM card.

The dial is operated by voice. It allows free music streaming too. It comes in black or white with 32gb storage. Other features include People, Calendar, Time,  Maps, Health tracking, texts, calls and email. It has a 2mp camera for taking photos. Its powered by an operating system called AneedA.

Hopefully other apps will be available soon.

A contract for a wearable device? Not sure how this will sell.

MODE watch bands for Android Wear

Finally, Google has launched MODE watch bands to make changing and customising your Android Wear watch without any effort. The concept with the Google method is that the strap pin stays on the watch. The strap has a quick release mechanism.

Such a simple idea and one that couldn’t come soon enough!

Watch the video below for more info or head over to Google.

Samsung Gear S2 and S2 Classic – review

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Welcome to my review of the Gear S2 and the Gear S2 Classic. The watches are virtually identical apart from the fact the Gear S2 Classic (on right) uses a standard 20mm leather watch strap and has a fancier rotating front bezel. The other aspect of these smart watches is that they work on all android phones from android 4.4 upwards and soon on iOS.

The Key Specifications

– IP68
– 250 mAh battery
– RAM 512mb, 4gb rom with 1.9gb storage free
– Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, WiFi
– Sensors – Acc, Gyro, Heart Rate Monitor, Barometer, Ambient Light
– OS Tizen
– Exynos 3250
– Gear S2 – 42.3 x 49.8 x 11.4 mm
– Gear S2 Classic – 39.9 x 43.6 x 11.4 mm
– Wireless Charging Dock included

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On the side you have a back button and an apps button. The mode of operation is simple. Either touch the screen and/or rotate the circular bezel. So by gently turning the bezel you can scroll through long emails, zoom in on a map or skip a track during playback. The large watch bezel is so easy to rotate too. The Gear S2 is my favourite smart watch to date. In terms of ease of use it is way ahead of the Apple Watch. I also prefer it to Android Wear. Android Wear does not have a single watch that correctly uses the heart rate monitor for fitness. Now some of you are shouting the Gear S2 doesn’t have any third party app developer support. Maybe so, but neither does it matter. Running apps on a watch is crazy. The heavy processing should be done on your phone. The Apple Watch has very few third party apps worth talking about and being honest they only send data back to the phone app. Also Apple Watch apps are slow to use. So what matters is what the watch does out of the box, not what it might do next year. Next year there will be an advancement in tech, so more will be possible. I can state the Gear S2 does exactly what it says on the tin. Unlike previous Gear watches, the Gear S2 works with all android phones that have android 4.4 and above. iOS support is due later this year.

So using S Health you can stay fit and focused, get heart rate readings and more. The S Health app on the phone is extremely extensive. However, it is worth noting there is no way to export the health data outside of S Health.

The Gear S2 has a decent range of watch faces plus you can buy in the Galaxy Gear app store more apps and watch faces. The watch faces are customisable along with watch complications. You also have watch widgets which again are selectable. The included watch faces in my opinion are extensive enough.

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So by swiping the screen to the right or rotating the round bezel, shows your notifications. You can reply to messages using voice, emojis or type a reply with the on screen keyboard which uses T9 for speed. Swiping or rotating the bezel in the other direction you get access to a selection of widgets. You can add or remove the widgets to your liking. The included apps on the Gear S2 are messages, email, phone, timer, stopwatch, S Health, Settings, Schedule, Alarm, S Voice, Nike Running, Music Player (300 songs limit, you connect bluetooth headphones to the Gear S2), Bloomberg, CNN, Gallery, Find My Phone, Maps, Voice Memo and World Clock. Via the Gear S2 phone app you can re-arrange the layout of the apps. The Gear S2 concept works on apps around the edge which you can select by tapping the icon or rotating the bezel. To go to the next page of apps you can either swipe left or right, or select next page.

S Health links into the the Samsung S Health app. The S Health app on the Gear S2 can track your activity from running, walking, cycling, hiking, elliptical training, exercise bike, step machine and treadmill. The Gear S2 can read your heart rate every hour, or every 10 mins or not at all. You can also use the S Health watch up to track water and caffeine intake. However, the Gear S2 does not have built in GPS. It uses the GPS connection from your phone.

In terms of third party apps, the Gear app store includes apps from Fit Evolution,Uber, Line, KLM, eBay, Golf Navi, ESPN, WSJ, Live Soccer, Watchmaster. Samsung have extra apps you can install including Calculator, Find My Car and News Briefing. There are also a number of watch faces. But the app store is not that extensive.

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With the Gear S2 Classic you can fit standard 20mm watch straps. I got a brown crocodile leather strap for £7 from Amazon. I think it makes a massive difference to the look and smartness of the Gear S2 Classic. I have provided all the links to the Amazon straps at the end of the article.

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With the standard Gear S2 you have to buy Samsung straps. Samsung have a range of designer straps by Mendini. I got this one below which costs around £30.

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Conclusion

Personally, I really like the Gear S2. It does exactly what is says on the tin and no more. Is this watch for you? It all depends on what you want your smart watch to do!

Amazon UK Links

iStrap 20mm Replacement Brown Crocodile Leather strap

Official Samsung Mendini Sports Strap

Samsung Gear S2 and S2 Classic Smart Watch

Amazon US Links

Click Here to Buy via Amazon USA

Pebble feels the pressure from competition

“Pebble head Eric Migicovsky has confirmed that the group will be saying goodbye to around a quarter of its workforce due to financial challenges.

Speaking to Tech Insider about the move, Migicovsky said that Pebble has managed to raise around $26 million over the last eight months, adding that the group has done well from private investors.

Despite Pebble’s seemingly high numbers, the company head has emphasized how important being careful with product planning has proven recently. Even though money is coming in, Pebble has had to let go of 40 employees.”

Not a good day for Pebble. I do wonder if they have the market collateral to compete against Apple, Samsung, Jawbone, Fitbit and others.

More at Talk Android.