[@opensource](https://lemmy.ml/c/opensource) Yesterday, I received a PINE64 PineTime smart watch as a late Christmas gift. I had asked for it mostly out of curiosity, and because considering that it was fairly cheap at around $35, if I fall out of using it, it's nowhere near as much of a loss as buying a laptop I never use. I've never used a smart watch before, except for a FitBit and GameBand very briefly, so I can't compare the PineTime to other smart watches easily. I probably would have gone on without a smartwatch, too, were it not for the selling point of it being hackable, open hardware at a low price.
Overall, it seems to be a perfectly fine watch. The build quality is good; it feels durable, and the wristband isn't the most comfortable thing out there but it does the job. The default OS was InfiniTime 1.6, which I soon upgraded to InfiniTime 1.11. It's not Linux, as Linux couldn't run on the cheap hardware used in the PineTime (64KB RAM). Rather, it is a derivative of FreeRTOS, with a custom UI made specifically for the PineTime, and by far the most actively developed of all OSes for it. InfiniTime is a pretty good OS, usable enough, but without installable apps or a proper text input method, it's no watchOS replacement. The alternative OS, Wasp-os, seems to support installing apps specifically written for it, but I have yet to try it.
On first boot the watch seemed stuck at the Unix epoch and there seemed no way to set the time. I had to pair it with my phone, so I installed Gadgetbridge, one of the recommended companion apps, from F-Droid. It asked for tons of permissions including restricted ones, and I had to unpair the device in the normal settings to pair it again via Gadgetbridge - annoying, but eventually I got the time to sync up with my phone. With that out of the way I could look around and see how everything worked, and it didn't take long to get used to the OS. I checked the InfiniTime GitHub for updates, and installed the latest version to get, among other things, an AWESOME terminal-style watch face. I also found some documentation, albeit woefully incomplete and scattered, of the update process and some features I'd not been able to find myself.
Among the features: notification sync with the phone (no text input though), step tracking, heart monitor, accelerometer, metronome, drawing pad, music controls, navigation, one alarm, a stopwatch, and clones of Pong and 2048. Pong and 2048 are nice distractions that are probably a bit healthier than playing similar games on my phone while walking, but the novelty wore off very quickly. Pong in particular feels like a game developers put on obscure hardware just to prove they can. The drawing pad is not very usable, and I'd honestly rather have something like a calculator in its place.
I was charging PineTime for most of the first night I had it, and I was initially concerned that the battery drained by almost 15 percentage points when I removed it from the charging base for 15 minutes, but when I got to spend a full day with it, it only dropped from 84% to 67% over the course of a day without charging - quite reasonable. It just discharged at a very inconsistent rate.
Overall, besides using free software, the PineTime is a good enough watch that fills a solid niche in between something high-end like the Apple Watch, and a cheap digital watch with a couple games on it. I would recommend it to someone in need of that and I could see myself carrying this on my wrist for a good while. However, the default OS is poorly documented and the apps aren't fully featured yet, so expect some small difficulties.