Smartwatches/Bands
Neptune Suite makes the smartwatch the center of your digital life

editors-choiceLots of companies are hopping on the smartwatch bandwagon these days. Most, like the Kickstarter record-setting Pebble Time watch, are accessories to smartphones; others include a  and make them standalone devices.

However, no family of products has done as much to elevate the smartwatch as the king of all devices as the Neptune Suite. Montreal-based Neptune, which first found crowdfunding success exponentially crushing its Kickstarter goal for the chunky Neptune Pine, has switched to Indiegogo with a bangle-like smartwatch called the Neptune Hub. It’s packed with technology. But that’s just the beginning of the Suite’s story.

Rather than have the smartwatch serve as an accessory to the smartphone, the Hub can pair with a 5″ device called the Pocket Screen. It looks a lot like an Android phone, but relies on the Internet access and brains of the watch. And for an even bigger-screen experience, the company offers a 10″ Tab Screen that’s also like a tablet that’s had a lobotomy.

The family keeps growing. The Tab Screen docks into a keyboard for a laptop experience. And if the Tab Screen still isn’t a big-enough screen experience, Neptune offers a Chromecast-like TV stick to send the whole experience up to your television. While some watches can control a TV, the Neptune Hub can drive its content.

With a smartwatch that has only half the battery capacity of a smartphone driving so many other gadgets, one might think that the wearer would be lucky to get through a couple of hours. But with so little electronics in, say, the Tab Screen, Neptune has filled it with battery. A matching wireless headphone serves as a cable to transfer power from the phone to the battery.

The other vital piece of linking technology for the Suite is a new wireless standard called WiGig that uses very high frequency spectrum to allow fast communication (including video) among devices that are within close range. Neptune is offering all the components together for backers for $599, a 300 discount off the expected price. the company seeks $100,000 by April 14th in its flexible funding campaign.

Neptune Suite is the most versatile take on managing the gap between different form factors since the Dragunfly Futurefon that graced Indiegogo late in 2014. Neptune’s efforts seem at once both more ambitious and more mainstream, turning the model for smartwatch design on its head. The wireless headphones that form a critical charging method is literally its weakest link. The product family brings a strong array of functionality even at its planned retail price, which is less than several smartwatch configurations alone. It’s a bold implementation of what may someday be the norm of one center of intelligence feeding a range of form factors depending on the need of the moment.

 

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Arthur Tufeau is a contributor to Backerjack.