Smart watches are ugly. Except for this one!

The I'm Watch features Italian design, Android software, and custom apps that look quite nice.

The I'm Watch is a bit big, but it looks good. Rafe Needleman/CNET

LAS VEGAS--I've seen a few companies lately try to recapture the newly free real estate of the wrist (now that people are using their phones as their watches) with teched-out watches, body monitors, and super, Android-powered gizmos.

They're cool, except they're not, because few of them are actually wearable in polite company. But the I'm Watch, from Italy, is not just a nicely powered smart watch, it looks like something you might actually want to wear.

Yes, it's nearly as big as an iPod Nano, but at least it has curved glass. And you can get it in almost any material you like, from aluminum to gold to carbon.

The device is powered by Android (1.6) and comes with a music player, Twitter and Facebook clients, weather, and access to an app store for additional functions. It's Bluetooth-enabled so it will display the caller ID from your smartphone when somebody calls (I experienced this when using a WIMM-powered watch ; it's a nice feature).

A touch screen gets you into apps. You can download more. Rafe Needleman/CNET

It's got a nice touch-screen interface, and it's easy to move between apps. One big bonus: the apps look decent, not like science-fair projects.

The I'm Watch is the Armani of smart watches, though: basic models will start at $299, and if you want the gold or other fancy versions, expect to pay a lot more. The company is taking preorders now, and products should start shipping this quarter. There are dozens of color and material choices.

Until I saw this line of products I wasn't convinced that anyone could really capture this new market. But this product wins with strong design, both in the hardware and the software. It may cost more than an entire smartphone, but it looks like a nice tech luxury item.

By the way, I'll be moderating a Stanford VLAB event on wearable devices on Tuesday, January 17.

 

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