Smartwatches are great when their batteries aren't dying on you. That's what makes Pebble one of the best. But Lenovo is trying to creep in on that territory too, with its new Android-friendly e-ink smartband: The Vibe Band VB10.
At first blush, it sounds like the Pebble pitch all over again: wrist notifications, waterproof for 30 minutes at up to a meter, weeklong battery life, fitness tracking, low-powered screen, affordable price point — the Vibe Band is just $US90. Unlike the Pebble, which has a low-power LCD screen, the Vibe Band has e-ink, and the result is a unique and neat papery look. I thought it might have actually been a mock-up paper display under a plastic screen at first.
Also unlike the Pebble, the Vibe Band won't have a robust library of third party apps, which could hurt its usefulness, since it strikes out on its own instead of using Google's Android Wear platform. The other catch is that while it will work with Android phones outside Lenovo's non-US Vibe line, it won't be coming to the US at launch. Disappointing but not exactly a surprise since Lenovo recently swallowed up Motorola to act as its stateside arm. Maybe there's something similar by Moto in the pipeline. Don't hold your breath but maybe.
Still, it's heartening to see an e-ink watch with an emphasis on battery life, especially since similar ones from Archos and Sony haven't actually shown up yet. It's getting to be a bit late in the game for any other watch to successfully beat out Pebble as the go-to third-party smartwatch, but it's good for folks to keep them on their toes.