By Stephen Schenck | November 19, 2013 2:54 PM
With mass-market devices like Pebble and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear on store shelves (and apparently selling better than we were being informed), the era of the smartwatch has arrived. Sure, most eyes are on Apple to see what it can pull off with the hardware we’ve been calling the iWatch, but just because the big kids are getting in on the action doesn’t mean we’re about to see a stop to new players looking to get involved. All the way back in February you might remember us telling you about the Neptune Pine, an ambitious smartwatch that attempted to ditch the need to tether and integrate its own fully mobile cellular radio. It’s matured a lot since then, and your chance to get one is finally near, with the Neptune Pine Kickstarter campaign getting underway this week.
The Pine of today looks a bit different from those nine-month-old concept images we checked out, but it sounds like much the same device. We’re now talking about a 2.4-inch display rather than 2.5 inches, and the finished Pine is going with a narrower aspect ratio 320 x 240 display, instead of a 432 x 240 component.
It’s powered by a dual-core S4, runs Android 4.1.2, and has both front and rear cameras – someday you might pop Pine off your wrist and use it in things like a helmet mount, Go-Pro-style. Storage options start at 16GB, a pretty large amount for a watch, and extend to 32GB. The radio lacks LTE, but does support 3G on the 850, 1700, 1900, and 2100 MHz bands.
Of course, we’re hugely concerned with battery life. The 810mAh battery is much larger the competition’s, and Neptune makes claims of 120 hours standby life. We’ll have to see how well it fares in real-world usage, but that’s promising.
So, what’s this going to run you? Less than you might think: early adopters can get a 16GB model for about $200, though those are going fast. There are also $230 and $250 levels, where more will be available, and the 32GB model starts at about $280. Final retail prices should be $335/$395, and delivery of these watches is planned for January.