It's taken a long while for the Blocks modular smartwatch to reach the masses, but at CES 2018 the team behind the device announced that Kickstarter orders are finally shipping, and anyone can buy the wearable right now, for the ultimate in smartwatch flexibility.

Despite several production delays and hiccups, the concept behind Blocks has stayed constant: a smartwatch where you can swap components in and out, depending on what you need. Want a flashlight? A GPS unit? A heart rate monitor? These can be added as strap modules as required.

That core idea was interesting enough to raise some US$1.6 million on Kickstarter back in October 2015, and the developers have finally figured out how to get Blocks rolling off the production lines. The modules available right away include various environmental sensors and a smart button for launching customized commands, as well as the GPS, heart rate, and flashlight ones mentioned earlier.

The watch itself boasts a 1.39-inch AMOLED display with a 400 x 400 pixel resolution, backed by a tweaked version of Android Oreo 8.0 for smartwatches and a 350 mAh battery that Blocks says is good for about a day and a half of regular usage. A total of 25 watch faces come with the device, and you can design your own, too.

It's water and dust resistant, though it's not going to stand up to showering and swimming, so you'll have to do without it on those occasions. Blocks may not have the polish and capabilities of something like the Apple Watch, but it's an intriguing idea, and will work with whatever type of smartphone you're currently living with.

And, if you don't want to fork out for many modules or just prefer something more traditional-looking, the smartwatch can be fitted with standard watch straps.

The software experience will be largely similar to Android Wear, with most apps on a connected Android or iOS phone able to show notifications and offer limited interactivity (like being able to start and stop music on a smartphone). The watch also comes with Alexa and IFTTT built in.

The makers of the modular smartwatch are hoping to tempt in more developers to work on both dedicated apps for the device and new types of modules, but it seems that buyers are going to get a pretty decent experience right out of the box. The main watch itself costs $259, with extra modules available at $35 a piece (you need to buy at least four for a full strap). Preorders are open now, and Blocks is promising shipping in the first quarter of 2018.

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