Published on March 5th, 2014 | by Greg0
SyncBurn And SyncGPS: Wear, Sync, Track With MapMyFitness
Wearable technology is all the rage- from conventions and conference show floors where we see dozens of options, to the paths of Central Park where any run will reveal a veritable showcase of gadget-adorned wrists, from the Misfit Shine to the MIO Alpha. There are lots of options on the market, appealing to various exercise enthusiasts, and today we’ve got two to check out, both from a new company with a few interesting tweaks on a successful formula.
The pair of products we have today starts with the SYNC Burn Fitness Band, a surprisingly inexpensive model that nonetheless includes a heart-rate monitor, wireless Bluetooth pairing, and calorie counting. At this time, it’s only compatible with iOS devices, but the free app worked well and setup was simple. Water resistant and with a battery life of a year with regular use, the specs are pretty impressive at first glance, and initial impressions are quite positive indeed. The build quality and metrics look great, but there are some downsides that hamper the watch, despite the pricepoint.
For starters, on the functionality side, we did notice inaccuracies when tracking steps, despite repeated attempts to calibrate or setup- about a 10% discrepancy typically. Further, you have to press a button down- hard- for fairly accurate heart rate measurements. This likely battery-saving measure was a bit annoying and meant inconsistent tracking and a pause in activity to measure. The watch band itself was too small for some users (though perfect for women). The Burn was comfortable though, and we liked never needing to recharge (though it’s important to point out that you cannot recharge the batteries and must replace them if they die). For runners on a budget, it definitely makes sense to consider the SYNC Burn, especially considering the decent app and the free six-month membership to the MapMyFitness MVP service. Available now, for around $60!
For those in need of a larger feature set, especially more accurate mapping and routes, SYNC has another option- the SYNC GPS, which offers an optional heart rate chest strap. By itself, it adds distance tracking and offers a sleeker, smaller, if harder to read form factor. It should be noted that the watch itself does *not* have a GPS tracker built-in, but instead needs a connection to your phone in order to properly track your location- this is critical, as it means you’ll have to carry your phone as well, and rely on it’s accuracy. Other fitness watches with GPS, like the cute TomTom Runner or the excellent Polar RC3, are more expensive and bulkier, but allow you to leave your phone at home.
Using the Bluetooth Smart ECG chest strap is similar to most other chest straps. And if you’re already using or familiar with the MapMyFitness app, then you’ll find either of these watches simple to use and quite effective in harnessing the data. The SYNC GPS is the easier of the duo to wear as a regular watch day-to-day, though neither will pass in a business meeting, nor are they the best options for fitness fanatics. Instead, aimed specifically at runners and joggers, they simplify the tools, and make fitness wearables pretty simple and approachable, at a low pricepoint. Fairly lightweight, we did have some issues with disconnections on both models mid-run, but careful attention made it easy to notice and address. And the SYNC GPS is available stand-alone for $80 or with the heart strap for about $110.