Is the to-be-released Swatch smartwatch the anti-Apple Watch?
Aug25

Is the to-be-released Swatch smartwatch the anti-Apple Watch?

Earlier this year, Swatch teased a different kind of smartwatch. Named the Touch Zero One, the $160 touchscreen device has general fitness tracker capabilities (monitoring calories burned and steps taken) but is specifically geared towards beach volleyball, harboring the ability to track spikes, high-fives, and low- and high-hits. The stats are forwarded to a companion app which, in turn, rates the user’s volleyball prowess on a scale of 0 to 100. The narrow scope of utility is precisely what sets the looming Swatch smartwatch apart from the crowd. Instead of cramming enormous functionality into a single device and thereby transforming it into a wrist-computer (read: Apple Watch), Swatch’s strategy appears to be “including individual tech features in different models.” The tactic makes sense, considering CEO Nicolas Hayek has stated the number ‘zero’ in the device’s title is for a reason. “Our product is called Touch Zero One and that gives enough room for Zero Five, Zero Nine. The Touch Zero One is not the end of development,” he told Tages Anzeiger.  The hardware is another distinctive break from the path most smartwatch manufacturers have been trotting — and again, that seems to be precisely the point. The Touch Zero One has a clunky cab-yellow plastic face and a multi-colored band that can only be described as sporty, but it is designed for function over fashion, after all. And in a market flooded with fitness devices ironically overly-preoccupied with aesthetics, some good old-fashioned utilitarianism is a welcome relief. But is the plan to go against the grain brilliant in its novelty, or is it merely an attempt to be different just to be different? Swatch has made its intention to go head-to-head with Apple painstakingly clear. Aside from calling the Apple Watch “a toy,” Hayek recently trademarked “One More Thing,” a phrase infamously used by the late Steve Jobs while announcing new devices.  Either way, Swatch’s tactic is certainly an interesting one, especially considering the fact that the Touch Zero Two will be here sooner than you may think. Although details are scarce, Hayek announced the watch will be unveiled at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de...

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Wearables.com community review: The best and worst of the Runtastic Orbit
Jul30

Wearables.com community review: The best and worst of the Runtastic Orbit

In May, we gave away a Runtastic Orbit to Wearables.com community Michael Houle in exchange for a user review. Check out his thoughts on the device below (And be sure to enter to win our latest giveaway: the Pebble Time!). Top 4 pros: 1) Outstanding water resistance, up to to 300 feet 2) The display is simple, easy to glean stats from 3) Pretty good battery life 4) Ease of use with Runtastic Apps Top 4 cons: 1) USB charging cable is too short 2) Device is sensitive to road bumps when worn while driving 3) A little pricey considering how simple the device is 4) The second display for RuntasticPro is buggy at times   Overall score: 4.3 of 5 Overall the Runtastic Orbit is great — when used in conjunction with Runtastic apps. I found the device easy to setup, easy to use, comfortable to wear, and pretty accurate with the daily readings. The Runtastic Orbit is not as great if used as a standalone device. This is due to the inability to input your height, weight, age, and gender on the device, which can only be done through the apps. The charging cable is very small and does not come with a wall plug, meaning you can only charge it at a computer (unless you go out and buy a USB adapter). The Orbit did drain my phone’s battery (a Samsung Galaxy S5 Active) quicker than normal due to the use of Bluetooth for syncing the Orbit to the app. The app will automatically turn the phone’s Bluetooth on. My personal workaround was to turn off the RuntasticMe app’s ability to automatically turn on the phone’s Bluetooth when opened.  Instead, I only turned the bluetooth on when I wanted to sync the device to the app. The screen can be difficult to read in direct sunlight. Be aware that the device can pick up the vibrations of bumps when driving and add unnecessary steps to your daily goal. My fix was to put the Orbit in sleep mode when driving long distances. And finally, I did not use the device to track my sleep after a few days of reviewing the sleep mode of the device. With all of the above taken into account, however, the Orbit is still a great fitness tracker for walking and running. Battery life: 4 The battery worked better than expected. The manual states it last 5 to 7 days, but at the 7 day mark I still had just under a quarter of the batter life left. How long it lasts depends how many times a day you use the display and how often you sync the device with the RuntasticMe app,...

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When data gets dark: Why one cyclist quit the quantified self
Jul30

When data gets dark: Why one cyclist quit the quantified self

Shortly after my flesh recently met pavement, I had an epiphany about today’s notion of the quantified self. I’ve been a believer in self-quantifying, or what is largely employing technology’s ever-expanding ability to help us track our states of being, for nearly a quarter-century. In the name of realizing greater personal potential, I’ve enthusiastically tracked my sleep and diet, and my time spent crouched over a laptop as well as while meditating. But in the days, weeks, and months last spring after my left hip hit the road during a bike race at 29.3 miles per hour — one of multiple metrics logged on my bike computer just before it sensed no movement whatsoever — I had a different sort of revelation. I came to the conclusion that the quantified self, which in today’s booming wearables era means more and more to a rapidly growing audience, has become bloated. Ravenous for more metrics Up until my crash (the good news: hip bruised, not broken), and like many other people, the desire to gather metrics about my own state of being has, over the last five years, approached insatiable. There’s so much information available to mine, via accelerometers on our wrists (fitness trackers), GPS-technology in our pockets (smartphones), and databases in the thin air (the Cloud). We can consistently review the quality of our sleep, the calories in our diets coming from fat, carbs, or protein, and the regularity with which we turn away from our work in exchange for some fresh air. The quantified self, a term reportedly popularized by a Wired writer in 2007 but arguably as old as the ancient Olympic Games or any phenomenon that might drive humans to explore their capabilities, is nowadays a commanding biological dashboard available to just about anyone willing to invest a few hundred dollars into personal electronics. In deeply measuring our states of activity, being, and behavior, the argument goes, all of this self-quantification allows us to know ourselves better. Or does it? Trust yourself, not your smartwatch In terms of quantifying myself, I’d come a long way since the days of using a kitchen timer to lengthen meditation sessions, and a Univac-style heart-rate monitor to log running performance. In the last couple years I’ve tracked every watt generated while riding my bicycle, and via app come face to face with the nutritional blunder that is late-night chocolate bingeing. (That candy bar was six hundred calories?!?) When I’d get only four hours of sleep ahead of a scheduled morning workout or a big day at the desk, the dismal figure and lousy sleep quality would, courtesy of my on-wrist technology, stare...

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New to the Wearables.com Database: Jawbone UP4
Jul24

New to the Wearables.com Database: Jawbone UP4

Each Friday, we alert our readers as to what devices and companies we’ve added to the authoritative Wearables.com Database over the course of the week. This week we’ve added the Jawbone UP4. Jawbone UP4 The Jawbone UP4 activity tracker is the wireless-payment-enabled sibling of the UP3. The connected fitness tracker brings all the good looks expected from Jawbone design, as well as a suite of activity and bio-metric monitoring sensors and features. The UP4 allows you to monitor idle time, active time, sleep quality, steps, and calories. Bio-impendance sensor allow you to monitor resting heart rate, respiration, and galvanic skin response. You can link your UP4 to eligible American Express cards to enable NFC-powered wireless payments. Founded in 1999, Jawbone has been developing audio technology for over a decade. Most recently, Jawbone has developed two wearables, the Jawbone UP and Jawbone UP 24, that allow the user to collect data on daily activities and coach the user to a healthier lifestyle. Check back with us next week for...

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The best GPS running watches in 2015: Polar, Garmin, TomTom, and more
Jul24

The best GPS running watches in 2015: Polar, Garmin, TomTom, and more

Whether you’re a marathon athlete or a once-a-month jogger, it’s a tricky task to find a running watch perfectly suited for your needs. We’ve whittled down the sea of options and compiled a list of the best GPS running watches that can track everything from your heart rate to the route you take home. Take a look and find the watch that works for you. Fitbit Surge The best GPS watch for quality over quantity Critics’ rating*: 4.1 out of 5 (*Wearables.com compiles the top critic ratings online for an aggregate score) The Fitbit Surge is by far one of the best simply activity trackers on the market, especially with Fitbit’s updates to the tracker’s software and built-in GPS. The GPS watch also boasts some hot features, like smartphone notifications, a touchscreen, monochrome LCD, with a display size of 20.88 x 24.36 mm. However, with all of this technology packed in, the Fitbit Surge is a bit bulkier than many might like. But with a battery that lasts nearly a week on a single charge, the smartwatch packs a serious punch in the fitness department.  Compatible with iOS, Windows, and Android smartphones. Garmin Forerunner 220 The best GPS running watch for data on the go Critics’ rating: 4.0 out of 5 The Forerunner 220 is the newest edition to Garmin’s suite of Forerunner fitness watches. Sleeker, quicker, and better equipped, the 220 combines a GPS tracker, a heart rate monitor, and a built-in accelerometer to track every aspect of your run. Both ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible, the fitness watch is able to wirelessly pair and upload data to your smartphone. The 220 is also compatible with Garmin Connect, Garmin’s online running community, where users can compare data with other athletes. Be sure to utilize the tracker’s heart rate zone to reach that perfect run. Something else we really love about this GPS watch? How it knows to pause tracking whenever you pause on your run.  Compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones. Garmin Forerunner 15 The best GPS watch for getting started Critics’ rating: 3.8 out of 5 A high-tech running watch can be seriously intimidating thing (but one that’s perfectly suited for the fitness technofile), so the Garmin Forerunner 15 is stripped down to the bare essentials. For those who are just beginning a running regimen — or for those who don’t want to spend too much money on a device —  this Garmin GPS watch covers your pace, location, distance, heart rate, and calories burned, while also being waterproof up to 50m. Even when you’re not running, the 15 acts as a pedometer and calorie counter. Like the 220, this...

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