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The Pebble Smartwatch was arguably the first of its kind, and prompted an unprecedented response on Kickstarter when its campaign began in 2012. A year since the launch of the first model, Pebble is back with a vastly different version, the Pebble Steel, comprised of steel and looking every bit like your typical watch. At $249, the new smartwatch as just been unveiled at this year’s CES trade show, and with a dedicated app store also in the works allowing users to better find content for their wrist computer, it’s clear that Pebble wants to step things up considerably.

With Samsung and Sony having already released their own smartwatch efforts and the likes of Apple and Google also said to be considering something similar, Pebble could ill afford to rest in its laurels. Despite early success, fending off the power of Apple, Google, Samsung and perhaps even Microsoft is going to be difficult in every since of the word for Pebble, and with comparatively meager funds available for advertising, research, development and manufacturing, coming through with a new model so quickly is a fairly impressive achievement.

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The all-new Pebble Steel aims to tempt those in the market for something of higher build quality than what we’ve seen so far from the smartwatch community as a whole. There’s no doubt that tech watches are in vogue, but with the vast majority so far being a bit more ‘geek’ than ‘chic,’ Pebble is looking to entice the fashion-conscious with this clearly more eye-catching version.

Not only does it look more like a watch from a jewelers than the Power Rangers, but it also sports Corning’s revered Gorilla Glass, meaning it will be strong and resistant to scratches. The Pebble Steel also has an LED indicator for showing battery charge and for $249, it looks a fairly sweet deal, being waterproof like the original, you can still use it essentially wherever you go.

There are two different color configurations of the new Pebble Steel – a brushed, altogether more raw stainless steel finish, and a further matte black option for those who want a more subtle look. And the watches ship with steel and leather straps to suit your needs.

You’ll still get your 5-7 days of battery life, with the only downside being that your paired iPhone or Android device will only be able to survive for a fraction of that period.

In short, Pebble Steel has exactly same specs as the original Pebble, but is packed in more premium body.

Pebble Steel

On the subject of the new Pebble app store, which we first caught wind of towards the close of 2013, Pebble is looking to create a dedicated vault for Pebble users à la Google Play and Apple’s App Store. With apps like Yelp, ESPN, GoPro, official Mercedes app, Pandora and Foursquare having already been announced, it will surely be a key determinant in whether Pebble’s products will still be around in a couple of years time once the big guns have had their say, but with the company having been largely unaffected by Sony and Samsung’s decidedly disappointing competitors, it would take a brave man to bet against this start-up from consolidating its position in the smartwatch game.

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The new app store will be officially available to every user by the end of January, and apps will work on both the new Pebble Steel and the original Pebble Smartwatch. And it’s not just apps which the Pebble will be getting, games are also tossed into the roster.

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Version 2.0 of the Pebble Smartwatch software will be also available at launch, which will bring forward a bunch of noticeable performance and speed improvements, including a Notification Center. And the best part: fragmentation is zero between the two watches, hence support will be top-notch and app updates will be swift.

The new Pebble Steel will start shipping on January 28th and is available to pre-order right away from getpebble.com, and to make the deal even sweeter, free worldwide shipping is being offered to those who order early.

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