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Wearable Tech

The I'm Watch struts sweet Italian style (hands-on)

It was a long time coming, but the Italian-made I'm Watch is finally about to ship. Running real Android 2.1, this mighty-yet-stylish device can run apps and link to phones, and it looks good doing it.

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The i'm Watch is big, bold, and runs Android. Sarah Tew/CNET

BARCELONA, Spain--Yet another competitor in the burgeoning smartwatch category, the I'm Watch, has raised its head to do battle. Made by Italian company I'm S.p.A., the I'm Watch is unique in that it sports a clean, stylish look yet runs full-blown Android software.

More akin to larger electronic timepieces such as Motorola's Motoactv and the Sony Smartwatch, the I'm Watch is a legitimate miniature computer strapped to your wrist. Since the device comes with the smarts to use Android 2.1 as its operating system, the gadget can run real applications on its own.

Indeed, the I'm Watch comes pre-loaded with software solutions you'd typically find in a smartwatch worthy of its title. For example there are apps for checking the weather, Facebook and Twitter, your calendar appointments, and even your Picasa picture gallery -- though I'm not sure how much use the last option would be.

The rubbery wristband is wide yet comfortable. Sarah Tew/CNET

Of course, the folks who created the I'm Watch are convinced that a great many applications tailor-made for the product's software are just around the corner. In fact, company reps I met with at MWC 2013, including the CEO, were quick to boast that over 1,000 developers have hitched themselves to the I'm Watch bandwagon.

Frankly, I've hear this kind of bold talk before. Remember the Wimm One? Last I checked, the device had met an early demise. Still, the time feels right for a serious smartwatch maker to wow the world with the promise of this style of gadget. The question remains if that certain somebody will be Apple, Pebble, or some company out of left field.

Multiple apps are at your fingertips. Sarah Tew/CNET

One thing I do have to say is that, unlike the Pebble or even the beefy Motoactv, the I'm Watch's aluminum construction gives the product a premium feel in the hand and on my wrist. I just hope the battery life won't be an issue, and that reading it in daylight is possible.

Interested in learning more about the I'm Watch or perhaps buying one yourself? Expect the device to cost the equivalent of 350 euros and sell globally by April 2013. The I'm Watch is also compatible with both Android and iOS handsets.

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