Good request. I wasn't able to reserve review sample from Pebble guys. They either got too snobby (after a few encouraging replies, I got another very arrogant one) or just not interested in extra "advertisement" since they got more publicity they can handle.
From what I know about Pebble, they obviously got a higher volume of sales due to Kickstarter popularity and millions of dollars they collected. They also got injection of more money from investors, and starting today black Pebble will be sold everywhere in Best Buy for $150. With such funds they have a more advance team of coders and releasing more firmware updates and have more available apps. At the same time, a lot of the people are very upset with them because they backed them up on Kickstarter in January and still don't have watch in their hands while Best Buy will be selling it already. Also, a lot of people say that construction and look of the watch is very cheap.
MetaWatch does what I want it to do, but in my honest opinion - it is NOT consumer ready. I have a combination of older firmware and a custom software manager to get it to work how I want it. New firmware is only good for their own software manager which enables very limited amount of features that pales in comparison to a custom NE Manager that was optimized for old firmware. Also, Strata sports version I have is solid as a rock (I put it through hell and deep under water). But everyone "complements" me on my 90's looking Casio watch lol!!! Frame is much better looking but for the price of $199 is way too overpriced in my opinion. MetaWatch hired a famous designer and working on a new version of the watch which I can't wait to see! The screen is great with a fantastic direct sunlight visibility, but it looks cheap and doesn't have deep black background option for a classic analog face. Also, MetaWatch battery last less than 2 days and all the apps I have running on my phone to get to functionality I need are putting extra drain on my Note 2 battery.
Sony just announced a new SW2 which should be available in a few months, and there is a chance I might get a sample for review. In theory it's their 3rd generation if you consider their original LiveView (which got discontinued and can be purchased on ebay for under $20 brand new now - i got one the other day) as 1st gen, and current SW1 which has been discounted down to $99 as 2nd gen. I like the idea of micro-usb connector and them finally making it splash resistant (previous gen was dying if you get under rain or splash it by accident), but they made a decision to keep it bluetooth 3.0 instead of 4.0 (low power version) and previous gen stayed with blank screen with notification popups or watch screen when you turn it on (to preserve battery use with it's OLED screen - constant on mode was available, but huge battery drain). I hope they improved battery efficiency for both watch and the phone use.
Another contender that just showed up on the market is Kreyos (KREYOS: The ONLY Smartwatch With Voice & Gesture Control | Indiegogo
) - indiegogo (like a kickstarter) project. I'm very intrigued by that watch and hoping to get a review sample before their official release as well. On a paper that watch is exactly what I'm looking for, but until I have it in my hands and can confirm it's functionality - I have no idea what to expect.
The bottom line, I still use my MetaWatch every day (and charge it every other day lol!!!). And I'm looking forward to a new Sony SW2, Kreyos, and possibly a new MetaWatch next gen smartwatches. In my opinion Smartwatch is a must have addition to smartphone. As I mentioned before, it's an extension to a smart phone, not a replacement. I get notification of caller id, all of my emails (POP3, IMAP, Exchange) with sender info, subject line, and partial body of text, I get schedule notifications, missed phone calls, voicemails, number of messages, weather forecast, amount of battery left on the phone, view of schedule, and full music control. I don't have to pull out my phone all the time to see who is calling, or to check notification light if I got email or schedule tasks, or even check the weather. It helps a lot especially when we are talking about dealing with 5.5" phablet such as Note 2. So, benefits of Smartwatch is definitely there !!!