Wahoo Fitness Integration with Apple Watch

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Interesting link up between the super awesome Wahoo Fitness and that other company…Apple and their watch ! I probably need to look into this more as Microsoft ABND went down the route of integration with STRAVA (and others). My interest lies mostly in whether real GPS (which the Apple Watch does not have INBUILT hence why Strava might not like the data) and HR data and laps gets properly sent to the receiving Sports Data Platform and then how accurate it is in comparison

Anyway here is the Wahoo press release

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Wahoo Fitness, the leader in workout apps and smartphone connected devices, has a variety of integrations with the Apple Watch.

First up is the TICKR X Workout Tracker and the 7 Minute Workout App with the Apple Watch. Wahoo’s 7 Minute Workout App can be activated on the Watch and users can then complete the full workout with audio and on-screen prompts guiding the way. The TICKR X connects to the Watch via the 7 Minute Workout App. It must initially be synced via the 7 Minute app on your iPhone. Once paired, users will also see reps automatically counted during the workout and heart rate displayed on the Watch. When using your TICKR X with the 7 Minute Workout App, your iPhone must be nearby for rep counting and heart rate to be transmitted.

7 Minute Apple Watch

Secondly, Wahoo’s line of TICKR heart rate monitors (TICKR, TICKR Run, and TICKR X) can connect directly to the Apple Watch and used in the Workout app as an alternative method for collecting heart rate data. According to Apple Support, “to pair an external heart rate monitor with your Apple Watch, tap the Settings app on the Home screen, then tap Bluetooth and select it under Health Devices.” The only data available via this connection is heart rate. Apple also recommends keeping your iPhone nearby for the Workout app in order to get the best measurement.

TICKRAppleWatch

“Wahoo Fitness was the first company to bring heart rate training to the iPhone with our entire line of sensors we are excited to continue bridging the gap between iOS devices and fitness”, says Chip Hawkins, CEO of Wahoo Fitness. “With so many people using their iPhone and now the Apple Watch to track fitness data, we’re focused on continuing to research and design products and apps that promote a happy and healthy lifestyle.”

The 7 Minute Workout, first published in the American College of Sports Medicine Journal, consists of 12 bodyweight exercises, each performed for 30 seconds with a 10 second interval in between, and the only equipment required is a chair and a wall. The TICKR X pairs with the app via Bluetooth and prompts the user for each exercise, timing the effort and counting the reps before moving on to the next.

Data generated from the 7 Minute Workout, such as calories burned, can then be integrated into Apple’s HealthKit on the iPhone. The user simply selects what metrics to include from the 7 Minute Workout and the data contributes to the user’s 24-hour view of calories burned and intensity of the workout itself.

15% Promotional Discount Code for readers on CURRANZ performance and recovery tablets

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Love & Marriage :: CURRANTS & BEET

Love & Marriage :: CURRANTS & BEET

You can read in quite a bit more detail here in my ‘review’ of CURRANZ tablets what I think about CURRANZ (nice things I hasten to add). FWIW I use them and I think they work to enhance performance and I’m sure they work to enhance recovery. As the image implies I use them WITH BEET-IT.

Promotional Discount Code is RUNCURRANZ on the curranz website, this should give you 15% off until October 2015 then 10% afterwards. Enjoy ! I receive no money for providing you with this discount but I do get the occasional free packet of tablets to fuel my performance-improving sport habit :-). Buy a pack with 2x friends and share the 30 tabs so that you have 10 each – that’s then the price of a few lucozade sports and I bet it will make at least one of you faster. What have you go to lose? 15 seconds over 5k :-) Or 30 of you in a large rugby squad…sigh..do the maths !!

la sportiva : duathlon season over, time for a new challenge in the hills?

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Source La Sportiva

Source La Sportiva

With the duathlon 2015 early season ‘over’ (or almost over with yesterday’ Euro champs) then it’s a LONG wait until the Worlds in Adelaide in October or the English champs or the London Duathlon in Richmond Park.

So those of you who can’t swim might be somewhat at a loss over what to do for the next few months :-)

Well following on from Paula’s 150 minute goodbye yesterday I was reading through one of her 5k training plans from her book fro ma few years back. EVERY week she touted the benefits of getting off the roads and onto more mixed terrain.

So grab a pair of off-road shoes and find a forest or hill or mountain or something plain different and get running again. Variety is the spice of life, apparently. The La Sportiva Mutant (above) is a good place to start if you don’t have the right shoes.

I might have a look at some of their other trail/hill running shoes next month in a bit more detail.

Epson Runsense SF-810 high end running watch giveaway competition


There’s still time to enter to win one free Epson RUNSENSE SF-810 running watch with GPS and OPTICAL HR…no strap required !

Details here:

http://the5krunner.com/2015/04/20/april-giveaway-top-of-the-range-epson-running-watch-runsense-sf-810-optical-hr-gps/

microsoft band announces STRAVA Integration

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I’m in the late stages of my Microsoft Band release and was bemoaning the lack of exporting or sharing of detailed data. No need…here’s strava!! Super cool.

Also linking to MAPMYRIDE

these will let us get lap data and the detailed HR data out of the BAND environment. I should be able to do a decent comparison or two now!

also some new features around VO2max that might be interesting in addition to the recovery time that is already there (and which looks scarily like the advanced stuff produced by FIRSTBEAT for GARMIN!!)

—Press Release From Microsoft ————-

Today, we’re excited to announce a new update for Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band, taking another important step forward in shaping our product and experiences, and regularly delivering service updates based on customer feedback.

In February, we uncovered and took action against three main themes found in the feedback we had received: Customers want broader integration, new insights and more features. We’ve been focused on building new experiences around each of these themes, and we are happy to share that this update truly delivers.

MSBand_Male2_MtnBike_2789_CMYK

Broader Integration

Customers want even more integration with additional third-party fitness partners. We know they have existing relationships with other apps, services and devices outside of Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band, and they’re looking for new ways to integrate their data, ensuring it will all live and work together in one single spot.

We’ve also learned that cycling has increasingly become an area of interest for the general population and something our customers are interested in tracking – and have already been enjoying as part of the functionality of the Microsoft Band. The U.S. Census Bureau reported the number of people who commute to work by bicycle has increased about 60 percent over the past decade. Building upon our Bike Tile introduction in February, we are thrilled to expand cycling functionality through partnerships with popular Bike apps, MapMyRide and Strava. Starting on April 23, Microsoft Band customers will be able to wear their device during rides and compare performance or share routes with other riders using these apps.

MSBand_Male_ProductDetail_MtnBike_850

New Insights

When it comes to Microsoft Health, we’ve been looking for ways to share additional insights through the Microsoft Health Web Dashboard – something we’ve consistently heard from customers. Starting as early as April 27, customers will be able to access the following new insights and observations in our expanding, full featured Web Dashboard.

  • Comparative Insights: Measures data such as daily steps, sleep, workout frequency and calorie burn and compares it to similar Microsoft Health customers based on body type (height and weight). Customers looking for motivation can use comparative insights as a benchmark to understand their health relative to similar people.
  • Sleep Recovery: Good sleep is the foundation of health, and something everybody does and needs. Microsoft Band tracks the length and quality of sleep. Use the Microsoft Health web dashboard to analyze sleep restoration, sleep efficiency, and wake-ups, to find out how well the body restores its resources during sleep.
  • Fitness Benefit: Track fitness progress using historical data to measure improvement over time.
  • VO2 Max: VO2 max refers to the maximum volume of oxygen used during exercise, and is the primary indicator of cardiovascular fitness. Traditionally, measuring VO2 Max is cumbersome. Not anymore. Microsoft Band estimates VO2 max based on heart rate information. Now customers can track how their VO2 max increases as they improve fitness level and achieve their wellness goals, simply.
  • Run/Exercise Observations: Get more out of run and workout data with in-depth observations and insights. With a week of data, customers can determine which day of the week and at what time of day they perform best. Using historical data from as far back as five weeks, customers can track whether they’re maintaining, progressing, or need to re-dedicate themselves. Analyze detailed stats to find specific aspects of runs and workouts that can be improved.

MSBand_Female3_MtnBike_850

More Features

Finally, we know some of our customers are interested in tracking their fitness activity through Microsoft Health as a first step in tracking their health data. Microsoft Health is an open platform, and it is designed to combine the data from devices with services already in use. We are excited to announce that in the coming weeks, customers can track daily steps and calorie burn inside of the Microsoft Health app using the sensors contained in many Android Phones, iPhones and Windows Phones.* Even without a fitness tracking wearable device, customers can just download the Microsoft Health application to their phone and get stepping!

As we said on day one of our announcement of Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band, we’re committed to building the device jointly with our customers and partners, continuously improving both the product and service based on their feedback and usage. I am excited, once again, to demonstrate our team’s commitment with another set of product and experience improvements. We encourage our customers to continue to provide feedback and responses to Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band and look forward to delivering even more to help our customers and partners live healthier and be more productive.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates in the months ahead!

Salomon city trail :: urban city-parkrun type thing after work

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Steps close upOne of my greatest claims to sporting fame is winning a free pair of socks. So I was naturally tempted by Salomon’s offer of a free pair for registering for one of their after-work City runs. And I might even be able to make Fulham on 27th May (below)

A bit more sociable than the gym and you can also try out one of the rather nice AMBIT3 running watches (released VERY recently – early 2015)

————— Press Release Info below ———————-

Salomon is organising a series of free post-work, 5km runs with the opportunity to test out some of their key city trail styles. The test pool will include the X-Scream 3D, S-Lab X-Series and the Sense Mantra 3, all designed for urban trails on varied terrain. Plus you can check your pace and fitness with the brand new Ambit3 Run gps watch from Suunto. There’s also a free goody bag containing socks and headwear for those who pre-register. Runs depart at 6pm from the following locations.

 

 

Edinburgh                    Run 4 It                                    5th May 2015

 

Glasgow                      Run 4 It                                    6th May 2015

 

Stirling                         Run 4 It                                    7th May 2015

 

Sheffield                      Accelerate                               12th May 2015

 

Bath                             Running Bath                          13th May 2015

 

Bristol                          The Triathlon Shop                  14th May 2015

 

Eastleigh                     Alton Sports                             20th May 2015

 

Oxted                          Simply Sports                           26th May 2015

 

Fulham                        Profeet                                      27th May 2015

 

Register at: http://citytrail.salomonrunning.com/en/community-runs/

adidas Adds Windows Phone Support for its Fit Smart Wrist Based Heart-Rate Coach (2014)

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Actually some slightly old news shared here from adidas. I’ve been looking at optical HRMs and related devices recently as they seem to be shaking up the sports watches activity tracking (wearables) markets quite a bit. Generally it’s obvious that nearly everyone would prefer them IF they were sufficiently accurate.

Coupled with that is the availability of the device on the various hardware platforms. So I was quite impressed when Microsoft brought out their BAND product this month that worked on iOS, WindowsPhone and Android and I thought ‘oh, that’s good; no-one else seems to bother with all the major platforms”

Then of course I was reminded from late in 2014 that adidas do bother and had already added windowsphone support last year.

Oops!!

Nice one adidas.

I’ve yet to review their product(s) but from some of the PR images (not the one below) you can see 2x optical receiving sensors next to the optical light. From my experience that seems to be a good rule of thumb if you are looking for more accuracy in the HR readings. 2x receivers are more accurate than one. Makes sense to me anyway!
— Press Release follows verbatim ————

Fit Smart

adidas announced today an update to its miCoach Train and Run app for Windows Phone 8.1 based mobile handsets. Following the update, users will be able to pair, configure and transfer planned and completed miCoach workouts between the Fit Smart wrist based heart rate coach and their Windows Phone. Fit Smart can also be used to send heart rate, speed, distance and stride information in real-time to the Train and Run app, combining the visual coaching guidance from the Fit Smart with audible prompts from the app.

miCoach Train and Run is one of the most popular fitness apps available for Windows Phone. With cardio, strength and flexibility training programs developed in partnership with the elite coaches at Exos, it provides real-time coaching guidance to unleash your best performance and achieve your sport and fitness goals.

Launched in August this year, the adidas Fit Smart uses an optical sensor to accurately measure your heart rate and an accelerometer to track speed, distance and stride rate, all from your wrist. The wristband uses colored LEDs to guide you to train at the right intensity according to the phase of your workout and will store up to 10 hours of training data at one time.

April Giveaway – Top-of-the-Range Epson Running Watch – RUNSENSE SF-810 Optical HR + GPS

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runsense_sf_810b.png[1]The kind people at Epson are giving away an EPSON RUNSENSE SF-810.

This is a top-of-the-range running watch and I reviewed the exact one <HERE> . It’s a great running watch.

The RUNSENSE SF-810 is a feature-packed unit of high construction quality, if has an accurate OPTICAL HR sensor, inbuilt GPS and a good battery life.

HOW TO ENTER:

You can enter once through EACH of the following channels:

  1. Leave a comment below on the5krunner.com answering “How I will use the RUNSENSE SF-810 Running Watch” http://the5krunner.com/2015/04/20/april-giveaway-top-of-the-range-epson-running-watch-runsense-sf-810-optical-hr-gps/
  2. Leave a comment on the accompanying Facebook post answering “How I will use the RUNSENSE SF-810 Running Watch” https://www.facebook.com/the5krunner
  3. Reply to this tweet answering “How I will use the RUNSENSE SF-810 Running Watch” https://twitter.com/the5krunner/status/590156340338667520
  4. Retweet this tweet

ie You can enter 4 times and other family members can do the same.

Whichever method(s) you use there must be a way to get in contact with you afterwards.

The last entry accepted will be Midnight on 30th April 2015.

Comments that do not attempt to answer the question “How I will use the RUNSENSE SF-810 Running Watch” will be muted.

Epson will choose the winning entry method (eg twitter or facebook) and then will randomly select a winner and the winner should receive the device in early May 2015. The device has been used by me and will come in the original box with the original charger. UK DELIVERY ADDRESS ONLY.

May 2015 Giveaway: We hope to have something interesting to give away in May as well.

Microsoft Band Review from an ‘Athlete’s’ Perspective

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Microsoft Band

Microsoft Band

I’ve had the Microsoft BAND for a few weeks now and I have had a good chance to play with it. It’s good. If you want a review on the SMS/text and notifications features and how to press the two buttons then, no doubt, you have found plenty of those reviews already. They all say pretty much the same thing with the functions/features described to say what the BAND is supposed to do.

But you’re an athlete or you want to use it for athletic purposes. Just how good is it for your exacting standards?

You know that Microsoft’s BAND and, indeed, all the other bands are NOT going to replace your main SPORTS WATCH but you know that your main sports watch, on the whole, is pretty rubbish at sleep quality tracking, steps and all the other fancy wellness-activity stuff.

You probably like a gadget or two and you may well be seeing the Microsoft BAND as a possible COMPLEMENTARY PRODUCT to your sports watch, or your family could have simply run out of things to buy you. Out of convenience you may well plan to occasionally use the BAND to track your properly-sporty endeavours. And of course you will want a few toy-like features as well…just because you can! but you might be worried about the accuracy of the BAND for your precious sport data.

So here’s what you might want in a smart activity tracker:

  • Accurate GPS – it’s nice to track where you’ve been but you’ve had accurate speed/pace data before and you still want that when you run with it. You’re probably overly demanding on the accuracy required. I’m gouing to show you graphs of the accuracy
  • Heart Rate – You’re excited about the optical HR readings from your wrist but you’ve heard that they are not always so accurate. You’re probably overly demanding on the accuracy required. I’m going to show you graphs of the accuracy.
  • Activity tracker, of course!
  • Sleep quality tracker. You know that recovery overnight is key to an athlete’s improvement. I’ll show you what this can do AND give an indication of the correlation between this and morning HRV readings – both different measures of recovery/readiness.
  • Something that looks nice on your wrist.
  • Something that actually works; generally a lot of activity trackers don’t work.
  • A way of getting the data out.
  • A way to track strength session or general gym sessions. Maybe treadmill running?
  • Fancy features to impress people with ;-)

Sleep Tracking

The BAND requires that you tell it you are in sleep mode and that you have woken up to exit sleep mode. Other units purport to do this automatically but I am not convinced that this really works in those other units. It take one or two presses to enter and exit sleep mode with the BAND – no big deal unless you forget.

The BAND says good night to you, very pleasant, and tells you your sleep efficiency when you wake up. I get sleep efficiency ranging from 89% to 98% both of which I would class as good.

I like the experience offered the BAND for going to sleep and waking up.

However I got the 89% on a night when I had a fairly BAD night’s sleep as I was woken up. I’m very patient when awoken and think I can lie awake, motionless for extended periods. The BAND and, indeed any device, will probably think I am asleep.

So here is the very pretty sleep graph. Is 6 hours sleep enough? (Probably not).

tfk-sleep-pattern

Clickable

The graph is very nice and, if the data represents reality, is instructive. However on a longterm basis I would not even refer to the graph except on an occasional basis simply because, personally, I would not use the Microsoft Dashboard (I use other tools). The simple XX% figure that I get each morning on the BAND is what I would use. Though I ‘m not sure what I would do with that info! I just find it interesting; perhaps on a long term basis I might start spotting trends? (and then I could refer back to the graphs that I just said I wasn’t going to use…hmmm?)

And the other thing that I like is the HRrest (overnight resting HR). My overnight resting HR is a bit lower than I expected on one occasion going down to 45bpm. I normally measure it when it’s awake…and a little higher (up to 55bpm for me when still tired or not recovered). You can get a reasonable sense of your recovery status from the previous day’s efforts by looking at that night’s HRrest relative to your ‘norm’.

In-Exercise Heart Rate

Here’s what you get when you have HR enabled. This was from a turbo session at threshold with a sprinty spike at the end.

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It gives you the basics, including zones on the Y-axis.

The interesting bit is the recovery time. I did this session whilst fatigued 1.5 days after a race. My Garmin interestingly predicted 72 hours recovery time (because of the race) as did the BAND from this one session (ie with no history), probably for different reason – namely incorrect zones (I haven’t set them on the band).

Here’s another turbo session. This is a warmup and then 5 minute intervals of hard work. There are 2 graphs from two pieces of software. There is the sporttracks graph of the Garmin and then the Microsoft Graph based on the band. You can see that the BAND over-estimates a large chunk at the start. I tightened the BAND at that point and the data improved as you can see.

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Interestingly both recorded the same maximum HR of 171bpm YET in the early part of the session I’m sure (?) there was a reading of 180-something on the BAND…so there must be some sort of smoothing algorithm to get rid of outlier data before saving it into the dashboard.

Here is another example, again at a Z2 type level of intensity, and you can see there is some inaccuracy creeping in from the BAND. The phrase ‘there or thereabouts’ might be a fair summary. Note that the either the BAND takes intermittent readings or the Microsoft DASHBOARD software displays smoothed HR numbers.

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HRV

This device will never give you HRV data. Nor is it intended to. The resting HR data was good and probably accurate. Broad trends in resting HR matched broad trends in HRV taken from other sources as would be generally expected.

GPS

I was amazed that I got a GPS/Satellite lock within 3 seconds of leaving the house. And this kind of lock-on speed is consistently good. Some form of predictive satellite positioning must be used.

Anyway, then I went for a run as shown below:

Clickable

Clickable

You get a bing-mapped route, colour coded for speed. In the example above I was not going particularly fast yet this has me crossing the 3 speed zones with red being the fastest. Maybe as this was my first run it had not yet learnt my running speed? This particular part of the route I ran had quite a bit of tree cover and highish/closeby buildings. Not quite a city, but a reasonable challenge for the GPS accuracy following a road. That considered it made a fair stab at following this particular segment, not especially different to other devices.

BUT.

I have to show you this one. This is the best EVER track I have going over a bridge over a river on one of my favourite routes. Can you see the tiny footbridge? No, of course you can’t because the track I followed exactly follows the bridge going home from South to North. No other device on any of the HUNDRED, or so, times that I have done this has ever had me going exactly over the bridge – either on a bike or running. So the BAND wins the BRIDGE test. Maybe it’s because Microsoft are using their own map, properly calibrated to their own device…I’ve no idea. But here it is:

band-over-bridge
Here is another track from the BAND on a run I did today. It’s down a straight, tree-lined path for a bit less than 1km.

You can see it doesn’t track the path this time unlike on the ‘bridge test’. And I’ve found this on other devices where they seem to track North-South correctly but not East-West (or vice-versa). This could be the map or who knows what? Anyway, it’s NOT unusual for me. And really if you think about it, it probably doesn’t matter too much for your run. It still has me running in a straight line and therefore the pace/speed has a much better chance of being correct (more on that in a minute).

band-hr-gps-track

From the EXACT same session here is track for the same segment from a top-of-the-range Garmin 920XT (different map provider – Google). The displacement is probably a bit better (ie less). However on other days it could be less accurate over the same stretch.

920-gps-track

OK, so I haven’t done a scientific test. But I’m pretty confident that the GPS track is accurate enough for any sports person.

DISTANCE AND PACE/SPEED ACCURACY.

I find it unnerving when I run with a device on each wrist and they autolap at the same time. the Microsoft BAND and the Garmin 920XT did just that for the first 3km. then they chopped and changed a bit being up to about 5 seconds different at one point.

This is simply just going to happen when you compare 2 vendors products with 2 different mathematical algorithms determining what exactly a kilometre is when anything other than a straight line is being run (ie normal running).

So although accuracy here could be improved a bit I would certainly have no problems using it in this particular respect.

TO BE UPDATED (INTENTIONALLY INCOMPLETE): I didn’t specifically look at the pace on the BAND when I ran. I wasn’t able to get detailed lap data out of the BAND/HEALTH environment to make a fair comparison.

Aesthetics and Usability

I would say, IMvHO, that the aesthetics and usability is excellent. I have read other reviews and some people clearly disagree with me. Oh well.

I think it looks great. I think the screen quality is great.

I come from the perspective of REALLY NOT liking Microsoft v8.x desktop operating interface that uses the tiles. However I have to say that on the BAND the TILE-like functionality is excellent and REALLY works.

It looks uncomfortable. It’s not. I find it very comfortable actually. Indeed I would say it is better than other devices for longterm usage as the shape of the BAND and the sensor positioning, to a degree, improve airflow around the wrist. I don’t get the smelly, sweaty wrist syndrome that you can get with other.

You can wear it on the inner or outer wrist. However for usability purposes it is best LOOKED AT whilst on the inner wrist. Opposite to where many people wear a watch. However this element of the design gives you more screen-candy as the screen can go along the BAND rather than across it. Going across the band is MUCH more limiting to what can be displayed and how it is displayed.

Being on the inside of the wrist might make the device more likely, in the longterm, to suffer from smaller abrasive scratch from clothing/belts etc. Microsoft, I understand, supply a screen protector for this. On the other hand, having the device inside the wrist makes it MUCH less likely to encounter a much more catastrophic collision than would be the case if it were on the outside of the wrist banging into wall and the like.

The scrolling of the screen is fantastic. Two simple buttons and touchscreen operation is fantastic. I didn’t have to read the manual. It was kinda obvious, which I like from anyone’s products.

When the screen was very sweaty I had a few touchscreen navigation issues and had to wipe off the sweat before it would work properly. No big deal there.

For the perspective of an add-on to a smartphone it was great. Very easily configurable. The twitter and FB and SMS notifications helped me to get away from my phone unless the summary info on the band told me I needed to do something a bit more in-depth. Nice. Although other products obviously do the same functional thing in this respect.

Reliability

Why wouldn’t it be reliable?

One of the reasons you might think Microsoft Windows is less reliable than it really is, is because they have to accommodate tens of thousands of 3rd party hardware and software components and all the uncontrollable problems that come with them.

The BAND is Microsoft-only software and hardware. It worked perfectly for me.

I only found one glitch and that was with the online wellness software where one number was displayed incorrectly. (I reported it and it was corrected within 48 hours!).

Fancy Features

I’ve showed off my UV sensor to several people, none of whom were that impressed until I showed a first-time mum. This was just what she had been looking for to help protect baby from the harmful effects of UV light.

It’s got some nice things like being able to talk to Cortana (siri) on windowsphone and also enabling you to send preconfigured standard text responses to incoming SMS  eg ‘send text am in meeting now’ is handy.

But really all the fancy SMS features and the weather tiles and facebook/twitter notifications are nice. Even useful. Of course you get these on similar smart watches from other vendors. I have to say though that Microsoft’s implementation is very sleek, simple and straightforward.

Data Export

I initially struggled here.

I’m talking about exporting exercise session data not just daily summaries of steps.

If you want to get data into ‘your’ environment then the way to go (23rd April 2015) is to connect STRAVA. This exports all your laps, GPS and HR data effectively in TCX format. Once your data is in STRAVA you can use a website called TAPIRIIK to send it to other exciting places like DROPBOX or TRAINING PEAKS. Before April 23rd this was not possible.

However I am still trying to get the detail that I need with this method. For example when in strava looking at a specific exercise you can add the following suffix to the url to get a TCX file ‘/export_tcx’ – this does not seem to work with any of the data that Strava gets fro the BAND via Microsoft HEALTH.

You also might find delays in STRAVA accepting the data and further delays scheduling TAPIRIIK manually. You can automatically sync Tapiriik for a fee.

Activity Tracker

Yep.

I don’t want to dwell on this aspect as others will. Does the job though. Oh, it did NOT do stupid tings like record steps when I drive or type – other products most definitely do.

MicrosoftBand_Phone_WeeklyStepsUI_RGB

Source: Microsoft

SUMMARY

So I’m summarising this from the view of an athlete who is going to continue to use his workhorse watch of choice and this occasionally for exercise. Maybe an active class-goer and occasional jogger would fit this summary too.

It’s not perfect – but it’s not that far off.

To be clear: I’m not saying that this is almost the ‘perfect’ smart activity tracker. IMHO it is almost perfect for the purposes intended and people intended that I have talked about in this review ie for a sports person’s 2nd, subsidiary device.

It looks nice and it works. It’s battery life is good for the features it contains and the battery life is at least sufficient for the purpose. It may be market-leading or, if not, somewhere close.

You have to remember that it has a very good inbuilt GPS and a good, but not excellent, inbuilt optical heart rate monitor. It’s certainly NOT a bad optical HR monitor but I would like some improvement down the line. The competition, most of them, simply don’t have ALL the BAND’s features that work quite so well in this kind of product.

I would only use it for your long runs/rides and you CANNOT swim in it.

The GPS was perfectly accurate enough to log long rides/runs.

The HR, for me, was not accurate enough to handle intense intervals/tempo/threshold work but fine for the endurance and recovery stuff.

This will be fine for most normal exercise classes. However if you have a particularly hot room and you get sweaty wrists then this may impact on the HR readings from most, if not all, optical HR monitors.

The sleep metrics and recovery metrics are great. The most useful thing for me that I wasn’t expecting was resting HR (HRrest) and how useful that was to gauge recovery.

It counts steps if that’s your thing…

I find it aesthetically pleasing and comfortable on relatively small wrists. The build quality is very good; not at all plasticy.

You have data connectivity options that work and that are only going to broaden. You have multi-platform support – it will work with almost all modern smartphones regardless of the operating system or manufacturer. Even Apple.

It’s pretty good value at the existing price. All tech falls in price over time.

So really it could only be  sensibly improved (without changing the kind of product it is) with an improved optical HR monitor and, as with all devices, even more battery life. 

PRICE BY PRODUCT COMPARISON

Activity Trackers April 17th 2015 Amazon Price
Basis Peak £169.99 Link
Epson Pulsense PS100 £79.00 Link
Epson Pulsense PS500 £95.70 Link
Fitbit Charge £85.00 Link
Fitbit Charge HR £119.00 Link
FitBit Flex £95.29 Link
Fitbit One £67.39 Link
Fitbit Surge Ultimate £199.00 Link
Fitbit Zip £46.66 Link
Fitbug Orb £40.98 Link
Garmin Forerunner 15 £99.00 Link
Garmin Vivoactive £199.99 Link
Garmin Vivofit £55.83 Link
Garmin Vivofit2 £89.99 Link
Garmin Vivosmart £99.99 Link
Jawbone UP24 £79.99 Link
Jaybird Reign £189.99 Link
Microsoft Band £169.99 Link
Milestone Altitude £25.99 Link
Mio Fuse £107.93 Link
Misfit Shine £62.00 Link
Nike+ Fuelband £94.00 Link
Polar Loop £58.68 Link
sony Mobile SWR10 £30.29 Link
Timex Move x20 £75.60 Link
Withings Pulse £60.61 Link

Fitbit CHARGE Review

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Firbit Charge Review

Firbit Charge Review

Here is the rather pretty and comfortable FITBIT CHARGE. It comes in nicely under £85 in April 2015.

It’s a straightforward activity tracker and sleep monitor that benefits from FITBIT’s excellent web and smartphone applications. FITBIT is one of the larger players in the wearables market and this kind of product from them exemplifies why.

The CHARGE is by no means the state-of-the-art device. The variant (same model more features) up is the CHARGE HR which, you guessed it, also add HR into the mix. The next model up is the FITBIT SURGE. The SURGE adds GPS and HR in a watch format.

So if you are looking for your first activity monitor this is the place to start. It’s fairly cheap, it works and it does the basics well. The manufacturer is competent (FITBIT) and the unit is well-made. Use one of these for a year and see how it fits into and complements your lifestyle then you can make a more informed choice later about the nice-to-have features of the competition. Anyway, in a year’s time this techie market will have changed a lot and for £100 in a year’s time you will get a LOT more technology than you do now (I promise!!)

So for a wearable-newbie (be that you or someone you are treating to a present) then get the CHARGE.

In any case, once you start moving up with great features you tend to overlook the increasing demands on battery life. You can quite happily wear your CHARGE for a week and never plug it in to either charge up or transfer data. It really will not interfere with your life. Once you get HR or GPS or a beautiful screen then you will find you have to plug it in EVERY SINGLE DAY. And you can’t leave one of those on charge overnight as part of the point of buying these things is sleep tracking.

And that is where, for example, Apple’s beautiful watch will fail to impress. They claim a battery life of 18 hours but with power-sucking apps it will be less. It may even get to the point of being practically unusable. The Fitbit CHARGE will really not cause you any problems in those respects. In fact the name is misleading…you don’t have to CHARGE it up very much at all :-)

Anyway, if you want some more detail read on and I will also add some links to competing products and to best-buy tables further down:

OPENING UP

So it will come to your door looking like a fairly standardly packaged watch/strap/band. Like this:

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It’s a nice looking device (many of the others are not). In the box comes a tiny, wireless-USB-dongle (the bit that plugs into a USB port and then silently uploads stuff whenever you walk vaguely near it. You also get a short USB charge cable. Here are front and rear shots. The missing text on the screen was due to the shutter speed of the camera…the screen’s fine. It’s me. I’m not!

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The rubbery strap is very comfortable to wear, more so than many others. It’s as sweaty or unsweaty as any other strap. It’s sweat proof but I wouldn’t swim an IronMan triathlon in one.

Here you can see the CHARGE compared to the Microsoft BAND. This is really an apples vs. pears comparison as the BAND is more like the FITBIT SURGE HR. However you can see they are a similar size, you could perhaps surmise that the rubber strap might maintain its ‘new’ look longer than the Microsoft BAND. But the BAND is a more complex product at more than twice the price.

IMG_3554

MANUAL

For techie details on the CHARGE <here> is the manual.

SETUP

Setup is very straightforward and hassle free. Plug-pair-and-go would summarise the experience. It will work with pretty much any smartphone or MAC or PC bought in recent years running a recent operating system. Check the manual if you have concerns.

After you’ve paired the device using Bluetooth 4 (BTLE) then you install FITBIT CONNECT software on your device and that links to your data that will ultimately be stored in your online dashboard.

TRACKING

You wear the CHARGE 24×7 to track:

  • Steps taken
  • Distance travelled
  • Floors climbed
  • Calories burned
  • Active minutes
  • Hours slept
  • Quality of sleep
  • Targets (as defined on your online DASHBOARD)
  • Exercises – you can press and hold the button to start and stop specific exercise tracking.
  • Incoming notifications from your paired smartphone eg it will vibrate and display an SMS message

The online dashboard and apps are pretty comprehensive in how  you can look at the data (day, week, month) and the following gives you a flavour.

EASE OF USE

Easy! You mostly don’t need to read the manual…that’s how it should be.

I nearly bought one for an elderly relation last year but instead settled for a FITBIT ONE – which is a belt worn device with no smartphone notifications, perhaps more suited to that person’s lifestyle. But the software’s the same.

Heart Rate – Really?

You might wonder why you would want the HR. Well if you do exercise classes or other exercise, then those benefit from HR as a better measure of FAT BURNING ACTIVITY. HR can also give better data on sleep quality. So if you are a steps and activity person only then you would only marginally benefit from the HR analysis of sleep quality.

COMPARISONS:

Activity Trackers April 17th 2015 Amazon Price
Basis Peak £169.99 Link
Epson Pulsense PS100 £79.00 Link
Epson Pulsense PS500 £95.70 Link
Fitbit Charge £85.00 Link
Fitbit Charge HR £119.00 Link
FitBit Flex £95.29 Link
Fitbit One £67.39 Link
Fitbit Surge Ultimate £199.00 Link
Fitbit Zip £46.66 Link
Fitbug Orb £40.98 Link
Garmin Forerunner 15 £99.00 Link
Garmin Vivoactive £199.99 Link
Garmin Vivofit £55.83 Link
Garmin Vivofit2 £89.99 Link
Garmin Vivosmart £99.99 Link
Jawbone UP24 £79.99 Link
Jaybird Reign £189.99 Link
Microsoft Band £169.99 Link
Milestone Altitude £25.99 Link
Mio Fuse £107.93 Link
Misfit Shine £62.00 Link
Nike+ Fuelband £94.00 Link
Polar Loop £58.68 Link
sony Mobile SWR10 £30.29 Link
Timex Move x20 £75.60 Link
Withings Pulse £60.61 Link

 

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