Samsung might have had a slew of high-end Android tablets, curved HD TVs and a mumbling Michael Bay to show off at CES 2014, Intel flaunted a sleek wearable-sized PC and innovative dual OS platform, but the much lower-profile Neptune Pine could ultimately steal everyone’s Vegas thunder.
On second thought, teleprompter-ambushed Bay will surely go down in the CES history books, so at best the Pine can hope for a silver medal in attention grabbing. Maybe bronze to Sony Xperia Z1 Compact’s silver.
In any case, for a Kickstarter-funded gizmo conceived by 19-year-old college dropout Simon Tian, this Neptune Pine certainly looks like a great underdog story in the making. What’s it all about? In a nutshell, it takes the smartwatch concept to the next level.
Meaning it’s less watch and more awkwardly wearable smartphone. Sure, it’s ginormous and uncomfortable for anyone that’s not Kobe Bryant, but it puts Samsung Galaxy Gear and Sony Smartwatch 2’s hardware to shame with a dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon S4 CPU, 512 MB RAM, 16 and 32 GB storage options and an 810 mAh battery.
And we haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. Unlike competing devices, whose hardware limitations are only surpassed by software restrictions, the Pine runs full Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. Also, it can make and receive voice calls sans tethering, accommodating a micro-SIM card.
Oh, and did I mention you can pop it out of the watchband and take neat photos with a 5 MP main snapper or selfies with a VGA front cam, both sporting LED flash? No wonder the initial Kickstarter goal was considered modest by “investors”, who ultimately raised around $750k for the further developing of the standalone Android smartwatch.
Again, the gadget is far from flawless, being an even bigger douche magnet than Google Glass, with a gigantic 2.41-inch 320 x 240 pix res panel. It’s not cheap either, going for sale in March at $335 in a 16 GB flavor and $395 with double the storage space. However, if wearables are indeed here to stay, future development could take a cue or two from the Neptune Pine.