CES: A not-so-smart smartwatch

LAS VEGAS — Wearable devices in general and smartwatches in particular are a big theme here at CES.

As I mention in my latest column, it’s early days for the smartwatch industry. Manufacturers are still trying to figure out what the devices should look like and what they’ll do. One particular device on display, though, seems to me to be a non-starter.

The Neptune Pine is a basically a smartphone that’s been shrunk just enough to be attached to a wrist strap. It runs a full version of the Android operating system and can run Android apps. It can make calls, take pictures, send messages etc.

Sounds amazing, right? Not so much. Most smartwatches are being conceived as devices that simplify and streamline the information presented by smartphones. They provide information at a glance and allow easy control of certain smartphone functions, like playing music. They aren’t intended to offer the full smartphone experience.

And who would want them to? Almost by definition, the screen you’d be able to wear on your wrist is going to be smaller than the one you can fit in your pocket. It won’t be able to display nearly as much information.

But the Pine ignores all those notions of what a smartwatch should do or be. And the result is a bulky, complex device. No thank you.

Photo, of the Neptune Pine smartwatch, by Troy Wolverton.

Troy Wolverton Troy Wolverton (294 Posts)

Troy writes the Tech Files column as the Personal Technology Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. He also covers the digital media, mobile and video game industries and writes occasionally about Apple, chips, social networking and other aspects of technology. Previously, Troy covered Apple and the consumer electronics industry. Prior to joining the Mercury News, Troy reported on technology, business and financial issues for TheStreet.com and CNET News.com.