The Neptune Pine smartwatch became one of the most popular and completed projects on Kickstarter in 2013. We described in detail what this site is and what the principles of its work are, as well as the progress of the crowdfunding campaign, in the article “Review of Neptune Pine: A year-long Kickstarter campaign.” And here and now we present you with a detailed review of the device itself. Let’s evaluate whether the young developers finally got their first pancake, and how such an unusual gadget can be useful.

Specifications

  • screen: TFT IPS, 320×240, 2.4”;
  • processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Play, 1.2 GHz;
  • graphics accelerator: Qualcomm Adreno 203, 300 MHz;
  • operating system: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean;
  • RAM: 512 MB;
  • built-in memory: 16/32 GB;
  • memory card support: no*;
  • communication: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz || WCDMA 850/1700/1900/2100 MHz;
  • SIM card: microSIM;
  • wireless interfaces: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0;
  • navigation: GPS;
  • cameras: main – 5 MP (flash), front – 0.3 MP (flash);
  • sensors: accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, stepper;
  • battery: 810 mAh;
  • dimensions: 66 x 53.5 x 14.2 mm;
  • Weight: 60.8 grams (device), 35.4 grams (strap).

*internal memory is implemented on a microSD card.

Contents of delivery

Neptune Pine is delivered to customers in a white cardboard box with an almost perfect cubic shape.

The first thing you see when you open it is the device, and already under it in separate boxes you can find accessories – a plastic strap, power supply, USB cable<=>micro-USB, stereo headset and, of course, a set of documentation.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

Appearance

A smart watch without a strap is a strict parallelepiped with thread-edges, without protruding parts. Body color: black, possible release of a white version.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

On the right side of the front panel there are touch navigation keys – <Меню>, <Домой> And <Назад> (top down). The functions of the functions are not signed in any way, and if the purpose of the central key is clear, then which of the remaining ones opens the menu and which returns to the screen, you have to remember.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

Above the display is the front camera along with the flash.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

The lower top panel of the rear panel houses the main rear camera and the flash below it.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

The manufacturer’s logo is placed in the center, and below it are several lines of service information.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

On the top border of the smartwatch you have chosen: remove the micro-USB and microSIM card slot, close the flap, as well as the special clip for attaching the strap. On the opposite border there is only one more mount for wearing the gadget on your hand.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

The left side of the Neptune Pine is occupied by a visibility adjustment rocker, a power button and a microphone, while the right side is occupied by a 3.5 mm audio jack and a speaker.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

I was pleased with the assembly of the new product: the parts fit together perfectly, nothing plays or creaks, and the plug inside sits tightly in the connector, you can even feel its base. Thanks to the absence of design excesses, Neptune Pine writes in almost any style of its owner. The watch will look natural in both sportswear and a business suit. On the other hand, of course, a device of this size will attract considerable attention, and some may not like it.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

Ergonomics

The manufacturer Neptune Pine is positioned as a hybrid of a smartwatch and a smartphone, but, as we know, versatility requires compromises. If we consider the gadget as a smart watch, then it is too large for a wrist device. This does not mean at all that the Neptune team has made a bulky and useless device – in many cases, a large screen on the Hand, on the contrary, can serve a good purpose (more on this in the “Device in Operation” section). But constantly wearing Neptune Pine instead of a regular (smart) watch is not a pleasure for everyone; for many it looks inconvenient.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

If you use the Pine screen exclusively as a smartphone, the problem is the opposite – small for a device of this class. This does not interfere with verified calls, you can even write messages, but there is no talk about comfortable surfing or conversations in games. So buying the Neptune Pine as a smartphone, not counting a separate device with a large earpiece, hardly makes sense.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

Screen

The Neptune Pine display, paradoxically, turned out to be a drawback of the device. To prevent the device from loading too expensively, the manufacturer decided to use an LCD display (IPS or TN+film – it is not entirely clear either from the characteristics or from personal observations), a matrix of rather low quality with a resolution of 320×240 pixels (QVGA) and a diagonal of 2.4 inches . The result is low contrast and color rendering quality, viewing angles that are far from ideal (there are almost no images, but the picture fades, although the time, for example, can be seen at any angle) and an unclear picture due to pixelation. It is clear that the Neptune Pine is not a device whose display you will look at for a long time, but large manufacturers have long been supplying their smartwatches with higher-quality, high-resolution matrices.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

Among the advantages of Pine displays, it is worth noting the accuracy of operation (for a small screen this is important, due to the need to press the sensor on small elements), moderate power consumption and the presence of Corning Gorilla Glass protective glass. But, unfortunately, there is no oleophobic coating.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

There is no light sensor in Neptune Pine; brightness can only be adjusted manually (this can be quickly configured directly from the admin panel). The adjustment range is wide, but in sunny weather the maximum level may not be sufficient.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

Names

Since the first prototypes of Neptune Pine appeared back in 2013, the smartwatch now runs on a permanent version of Android – 4.1 Jelly Bean. Perhaps an official update to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean will be released in the future, but Android 4.4 KitKat is unlikely to be expected. Qualcomm has not released drivers for Snapdragon S4 Play processors for this version of the OS, and all hope lies only in the developer component.

The appearance of the device is not too different from the standard appearance of the specified version of Android, but there are still some changes. For example, the screen lock is simply a white digital clock on a black background (to remove it, just swipe the screen in any direction).

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

The standard option is suitable for use on a small screen, but in some places it illogically reduces space. On desktops on the left there is always a search for a line, which takes up space, and then an icon in the main font, as a result of which the text is cut off by the fourth or fifth character. Many people do not pay attention to these minor shortcomings and do not pay attention, however, no one bothers to put one of the top layers of launchers.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

In the settings panel, the developers have added switches for wireless connections and device settings (brightness, some profiles and rotary switches).

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

The smart watch comes pre-installed with a number of familiar office applications and utilities that can be found on almost any smartphone – email, Calendar, Gallery, and the like. But you won’t find Google or Yandex services on the device. If you are an experienced user, then it will not be difficult for you to turn the Neptune Pine into a full-fledged Google phone, but this leads to a reduction in the battery life of the device. There are several ways to get out of this situation. To install the program, you can use apk files, or one of the included stores – for example, Yandex.Store, which does not even require registration to download applications. The problem of synchronizing your calendar and contacts is also solved by third-party programs, many of which are free.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

Software that comes pre-installed on the Neptune Pine includes a digital compass, a file manager, and a flashlight that allows you to turn on the main or front flash. There is no provision for simultaneous outbreak management.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

The keyboard, contacts application and dialer are standard for Android 4.1, there is nothing special about them.

The device in operation

In my device, the manufacturer decided to use the younger fourth generation processor from Qualcomm – Snapdragon S4 Play. The exact model has not been reported, but almost everything is known about the specifications of the chipset: it uses two ARM Cortex-A5 cores with a clock frequency of 1.2 GHz, a Qualcomm Adreno 203 graphics accelerator with a frequency of 300 MHz, 512 MB of RAM and is made on a 45-nanometer process technology . .

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

At the time the device was created, this set of characteristics was quite relevant in terms of performance/energy consumption. But now, when the same performance, but more energy-efficient 25-nanometer Snapdragon 200 is available, the filling looks somewhat confidential.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

There are no questions about the performance of smart watches: it is unlikely that anyone will solve the problem with such a gadget in some kind of “stressful” environment, and to run all programs that could be harmful, the processor performance is more than enough. The most resource-intensive task is web surfing: in a standard browser you can easily read w3bsit3-dns.com and almost any other resources, although, of course, doing this on a small display is not very convenient.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

In the AnTuTu benchmark, Neptune Pine scored 10,919 points, modest for a smartphone, but quite sufficient for a smartwatch. They did not test in 3DMark, since this benchmark is focused primarily on three-dimensional graphics, which device users are unlikely to work with.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

Smart watches, depending on the modification, are equipped with either 16 or 32 GB of internal memory (and an additional 600 MB are allocated for system needs). The 16GB version of the device provides three storage options: 2.09GB “Internal Memory”, 599MB Internal SD and 14.82GB “SD Card”. “Internal memory” and “SD card” are implemented in “ES Explorer” as sdcard0 and sdcard1, and are also available for storing files (default applications in sdcard0). And the Internal SD, apparently, is the part reserved for firmware. Another unusual situation is that the Neptune Pine uses a regular microSD card (14.82 GB, sometimes called an “SD card”) as flash memory, so experienced and skilled users can increase the memory capacity of their device. having figured it out. him and changed the card.

The speaker is Neptune Pine one, and it turned out to be surprisingly loud – no worse than any budget smartphone. Moreover, the manufacturer managed to fit a vibration motor into a relatively small housing, so that starting a call or making a call is impossible, regardless of where the smart watch is located, on the hand or in the pocket.

Neptune Pine on hand

The included strap for the Neptune Pine looks as massive as the smartwatch itself. The accessory is made of flexible plastic, as it suddenly seemed on the soft touch, and the “stock” for the gadget itself is made, on the contrary, of hard plastic. Despite the ease of connection (Neptune Pine simply snaps into the strap in special places), the prefabricated structures look quite reliable – there is no danger that the smart watch will fall out. But not every owner will be able to carefully remove the device from the strap the first time; to do this, you just need to write on the part of the strap marked with an arrow (and this is indicated by an arrow in the manual). Installing the Neptune Pine into the strap prevents access to the main compartment and therefore the micro-USB port. Therefore, to charge the smartwatch, you will have to disconnect it. The remaining buttons in the compartment with a 3.5 mm jack remain available to the owner. A little has already been said about the convenience of the strap in the section on ergonomics; it makes no sense to describe it in more detail – the sensations of each person are purely tailored, it is impossible to please everyone.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

Let’s better show a few examples of using Neptune Pine when the gadget is on the hand. Unlike most smart devices that call a “watch attachment” to your smartphone, Pine is a completely independent gadget. However, nothing prevents him from receiving notifications and messages from the paired device. One of the most suitable apps for this is SWApp Link, which, in addition to the tag, includes many watch faces to show the time on the lock screen. The program contains significant options for fine-tuning behavior and appearance, but allows for clumsy designs and poor usability. I hope this will be fixed in the future.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

Despite the lack of an infrared transmitter, Neptune Pine can work with poor remote controls for retractable players. It is enough to download several applications for the necessary work (for example, VLC, AIMP or Kodi, formerly XBMC) and transfer easy settings so that you can control the playback of movies and music on a PC or HTPC from anywhere in your home or apartment.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

Another useful application for the device is a navigator and/or fitness tracker. Thanks to the widest stepper and GPS, Neptune Pine can record the owner’s activity in any specialized program. And by opening online or offline maps, the smart watch can be used as a city navigator – looking at the wrist area, clearly configured than on the smartphone screen while holding it in your hand.

We have given only a few examples of using the Neptune Pine smartwatch, but nothing limits your imagination: thanks to the huge amount of software for Android, everyone can come up with ten more functions for this gadget.

Camera

Neptune Pine was equipped with a main 5 MP and front 0.3 MP cameras. Moreover, in front of each there is an LED flash. Why the watch needs a flash, especially on the front panel, is a big question. Video communication in the dark comes to mind, but this can hardly be considered a regular service. The manufacturer himself doesn’t think about why exactly two bags might be useful, but he doesn’t forget about them, mentioned in the materials on his website.

The camera app in Pine is stock Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. It has quite a few different settings, including white balance, exposure, ISO level and scene programs. Despite this, achieving high-quality sets will be difficult: even in the main camera of the gadget with a fixed focus, noise in photographs can appear in daylight, and the clarity of the images leaves much to be desired. In other words, the Neptune Pine is definitely not a photography device. It’s quite possible to take a couple of “spy” shots on it, but nothing more: there’s no point in pecking at landscapes with low wavelengths, trying to photograph text without autofocus… To hell with this, it’s not a spy thing.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of SmartwatchesNeptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

Wireless interfaces

Neptune Pine supports cellular networks of the second and third levels. No conditions were noticed in the operation of the modem; the gadget can easily perform the functions of a telephone. You usually had to make calls using a wired or wireless headset, but it turned out that thanks to the location of the speaker and microphone on opposite ends of the body, you can have a conversation by leaning the device to your ear, like a regular phone.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

To connect to wireless networks, Neptune Pine uses a module that supports Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n in the 2.4 GHz frequency band and Bluetooth 4.0. There are no problems connecting to Wi-Fi networks, but it is worth noting that the transmitter power is not very high: where a regular smartphone can still catch the network, Pine may already lose the connection.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

The GPS smartwatch takes about a minute to cold start. But a hot start does not take even 10 seconds; connection with satellites is not required even in an apartment.

Autonomous operation

The smart watch received a non-removable 810 mAh lithium-ion battery. This is a record capacity among all devices positioned specifically as smartwatches. Therefore, if Neptune Pine is worn on your hand, used to view the time (even connected to a smartphone via Bluetooth) and periodically launching programs – such as subway maps or transport schedules – the battery can remain fully charged for three days.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

When using a smartwatch (constantly launching programs, listening to music), the battery lasts about a day, and when using the Neptune Pine with a SIM card in a smartphone, the entire charge may be turned off during the working day. The most energy-intensive task for the device is GPS navigation. The working module “eats” a full charge in 3-4 hours, depending on conditions.

Results

Neptune Pine is not only an unusual and niche device, but also still very crude. Too big for a smartwatch, too small for a smartphone, contains a number of controversial solutions and does not speed up development. Obviously, if it weren’t for crowdfunding sites like Kiskstarter and the courage of the development team, we would hardly have been able to find an all-in-one smartwatch.

Neptune Pine Review: Part 2. The Swiss Army Knife of Smartwatches

Niche product? Of course, but this niche is not so small. Let’s remember what was said in the first article about Pine: the development team raised eight times the amount needed, and now continues to receive orders for their product. Of course, the device cannot be called corrected, but we do not forget that they were handled by newcomers, without even a small share of the colossal experience of large vendors. The result is more than worthy, despite many shortcomings. In addition, the Neptune Pine development team is not going to stop there, and after some time plans to begin work on the second segment device. And then, you see, the niche will gradually expand.

Pros:

  • combining the functions of a smartphone and smart watch;
  • complete independence from the companion device;
  • full-fledged Android with the ability to install any applications;
  • capacious battery.

Minuses:

  • demonstrate low resolution;
  • mediocre cameras (and why are they there anyway?);
  • lack of an out-of-the-box application store.