Neptune Pine Smartwatch $335
11th Jan 2014 | 03:00
A smartwatch to replace smartphones
Just like there are big screen phablets, there are also big screen smartphones. Neptune's Pine Smartwatch is by far the largest wearable device we've ever slapped onto our wrists. Featuring a 2.4-inch screen, Pine has no reservations to replace smartphones.
It's big. Let's just get that out of the way. To put that in perspective, the Pine's screen is about just shy of being half the size of the iPhone 5S' screen size. It's definitely a step up from other wearable devices we've seen like the 1.63-inch screened Samsung Galaxy Gear and Pebble with a 1.26-inch screen.
The Pine smartwatch's face is about 2-inches wide on its own and the device sticks out about an inch and a half. Even the band on the back of the smartwatch gets to be about one and half inches wide.
The bulk was enough to scrunch up our sleeves and make the arm ends of our jackets look odd. But, if you're okay with all the inevitable odd looks directed to your wrist, the Pine has one of the best looking screens out of all the smartwatches.
The complete smartphone replacement
Sporting a 320 x 240 QVGA resolution screen, the Pine runs a full build of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with a slightly reduced six icon home screen.
Just as we'd expect of a miniature Android device, we could use the touchscreen to tap open applications and swipe through the Jelly Bean interface. Swiping down from the top of the screen also pulls down the settings and notifications tray.
Aside from the familiar Android OS, we were even able to type with two thumbs despite each key being a little over three-millimeters wide.
Using the Android Pine really is like popping on a half-sized Android smartphone on your wrist.
Dick Tracy called
During our few minutes using Pine, we weren't allowed to turn on the Wi-Fi to access the web or the 3G radio for calls. Neptune's reps told us, they need to do this to extend the battery life of their smartwatch demos whilst promising that they will be able to take a micro SIM for full call and data service around the world.
The fledgling smartwatch company also hopes to get Google's blessing to access the Play Store for official apps and other services like updates. However, in the interim, the company plans to build its own app store before they begin shipping in January.
Looking at the watch, it seems like device will likely be tinkered with by rooters and it also has a mini USB that could make side loading apps even easier.
What we were able to do was type up some quick notes and play a game of Angry Birds, with the ability to zoom out but not in.
The smartwatch also has a front-facing VGA camera for selfies, and better yet, mobile video chats from your wrist. The front-facing camera does not offer the best quality we've ever seen with a granny image and heavy dose of color-fringing due in part to the spotlights on the CES 2014 show floor.
Luckily, the quality of the five-megapixel camera on the back was much better. To use the back camera, the Pine can disengage from the smartwatch's band and pointed around like a point and shoot, or attached to another mount like a Go Pro action camera.
Neptune plans to start shipping the Pine Smartwatch to its Kickstarter backers by the end of the month. Meanwhile, new buyers will be able to preorder the Pine in 8, 16, 32, and 64GB varieties starting at $335.00 (about £203.23/AUS $372.41) for a March arrival.
At first glance it's impossible not to notice just how gargantuan the Pine Smartwatch looks on your wrist. But, it comes with the trade off of freeing up a pocket and having a completely serviceable Android smartphone just an arm-lift away.
We still have a lot of untested concerns about the Pine smartwatch between not being able to make a call, surf the web, or check out an app store of any sort. Still if the, Pine works as promised it could be just the first device in a new segment of self-sufficient smartwatches and the wearable tech space.