Hands-on: Pebble Steel review (video)

We slip the Pebble Steel on to our wrist and it's cold. It might be because the spokeswomen from the company has just hot-footed it from the Venetian to the Las Vegas Convention Centre in the chilly Las Vegas air, or because the strap is now made of steel. Either way, we like it.

Pebble has gone serious for version two, due out at the end of January, and Pocket-lint was on hand to have a play with the new watch and Pebble appstore ahead of the official release.

Although the physical tech within the smartwatch has changed, the premise is still the same. The Pebble Steel connects to your mobile phone - be that Android or iPhone - and delivers notifications as they happen to your wrist so you can be kept in the loop as to what's happening.

In terms of aesthetics the Pebble Steel is now a lot better suited to formal wear than before. It's smart, not as eye-catching as the original model, but that's probably a good thing.

In the box you'll get the new watch, a metal strap, and a leather strap. Why? Because Pebble couldn't decide which one to include, and rather than force you to buy more straps it wanted customers to have both. It's certainly a welcome offering, although it's a bespoke strap, so you can't just swap it out for any strap you fancy.

As for the watch itself, while the display and software experience looks the same, it's actually all new underneath. The charging ports are different (the first-gen charger won't work) for example as is the circuit board, but that's by the by.

As the company's CEO explained to Pocket-lint new design isn't symmetrical and that's allowed them to add the logo on the bottom of the watch face for the first time. The buttons are now all metal too and they feel great, leaving us with a great sense of quality.

Regardless of the changes, it looks smart and something that putting on we are instantly comfortable with. While some will criticise Pebble's efforts here, this looks light years ahead of the first edition, although not as playful or sporty - something runners who are already using the Runkeeper app will probably agree with. Pebble's response: why not have both?

Besides trying on the new watch we also got to play with the some of the new apps launching in the Pebble appstore, including ESPN for the latest goals, and Yelp for reviews on local bars and restaurants.

The apps, which do require your data connection from your phone, work really well here, including an interesting idea from Yelp that simply requires you to shake the watch to be given a suggestion of a bar or restaurant nearby.

And if you are a Foursquare user you'll be able to simply select the app and then check-in via a press of a button on your watch rather than get your phone out of your pocket.

READ: Pebble review

Overall, the Pebble Steel is a welcome addition, maturing the Pebble portfolio and addressing the criticisms that we had of the first edition. It's now a more masculine offering for those who want something that looks more like a watch and less like a toy.

At least, come 29 January you'll get a choice of styles.