Monthly Archives: February 2014

Best of the wearables at Mobile World Congress 2014

This week has seen the annual Mobile World Congress event taking place in Barcelona. The biggest event of the year for mobile device manufacturers, this year many companies brought along their wearable technology devices to show off to the crowds.

We’ll hopefully have some hands-on reviews to bring you soon, but in the meantime, please find a selection of the best from the show below!

Samsung Gear 2

Samsung Gear 2

Availability and pricing: April, pricing TBD

Compatibility: “Dozens” of Samsung Galaxy devices

What Is It? The Samsung Gear 2 is a smartwatch that can display notifications from your smartphone on your wrist. It also has fitness tracking capabilities with pedometer functions and a built-in heart-rate sensor. Unlike the company’s first smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear, the Gear 2 is based on the Tizen platform, not Android.

The Good: The Gear 2 now has a built-in heart sensor. It is lighter and thinner than the Galaxy Gear and feels better on the wrist. You can also swap the bands with any standard 22mm watch strap. Battery life is now extended from one day to two to three days.

The Bad: Only compatible with Galaxy devices. It’s also still rather bulky.

Samsung Gear 2 Neo

Samsung Gear 2 Neo

Availability and pricing: April, pricing TBD

Compatibility: “Dozens” of Samsung Galaxy phones

What Is It? The Gear 2 Neo is similar to the Gear 2, but lacks a camera. It’s also made from polycarbonate plastic rather than metal, thus lighter than the Gear 2.

The Good: Though pricing has not been announced, it will be cheaper than the Gear 2.

The Bad: Only compatible with Galaxy devices.

Samsung Gear Fit

Samsung Gear Fit

Availability and pricing: April, pricing TBD

Compatibility: Samsung Galaxy devices

What Is It? Unlike the Gear 2 watches, the Gear Fit’s primary function is that of a fitness tracker. It includes a heart-rate sensor, pedometer and sleep tracker. The wristband can still display notifications from your phone, but there is no built-in mic for calls or a camera. The Gear Fit runs on a real-time operating system, not Tizen or Android.

The Good: The 1.84-inch Super AMOLED is absolutely gorgeous. The wristband is lightweight and comfortable to wear, and the curved display rests nicely on the wrist.

The Bad: Limited app ecosystem. Only compatible with Galaxy devices.

Huawei TalkBand B1

Huawei TalkBand B1

Availability and pricing:Q2, 99 Euros (around $135 U.S.)

Compatibility: Android (2.3 or higher) and iOS (5.0 or higher) devices

What Is It? The TalkBand B1 is an interesting device, as it combines a fitness tracker with a Bluetooth headset. As a fitness band, it has a 1.4-inch non-touch OLED display and tracks steps taken, calories burned and hours slept. But then you can pop the main piece out of the rubber strap and use it as a Bluetooth headset to take calls.

The Good: The hybrid design helps minimize the number of gadgets you have to carry. The strap has an integrated USB connector for easy charging.

The Bad: The integrated Bluetooth headset design makes it a bit thick up top. The band is also very difficult to put on, and the two-prong fastener doesn’t feel terribly secure.

Sony SmartBand

Sony SmartBand

Availability and pricing:March, 99 Euros (around $135 U.S.)

Compatibility: Android 4.4 devices

What Is It? Aside from tracking the standard fitness measurements and alerting you to phone notifications, the SmartBand was designed to help chronicle your daily life. Using a companion smartphone app called Lifelog, you can press a button on the band to create a “life bookmark” and it will remember where you were, who you were with, photos taken and blips of information from that place and time. All that data is then recorded in the app in a sort of visual journal.

The Good: The SmartBand has a very minimalistic and comfortable design.

The Bad: It lacks any kind of display, so you still have to pull out your smartphone to view your notifications and check your fitness stats.

[All content taken from The Verge]

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Fitbit confirms it is looking into user rash complaints

We reported a while back that some Fitbit users were reporting that their devices were causing them discomfort – from mild chafing to full on allergic reactions.

It seems that the company has finally heard the growing complaints, as the Wall Street Journal has confirmed that Fitbit is now conducting an ‘extensive investigation’ into this.

The Fitbit has been a critical success so far

In a statement, Fitbit Chief Executive James Park said the company has been conducting “an extensive investigation,” and believes the skin problems are “allergic contact dermatitis, which can resemble a sunburn or a rash.”

In a blog post last month, Park said Fitbit believed the rashes were most likely allergic reactions to nickel, a component of the steel in the Force. “Our investigation is looking beyond nickel to other potential causes as well,” a Fitbit spokeswoman said.

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New study demonstrates the most popular run routes in world’s major cities

Ever been out for a run and thought that it seems busier than usual? Everyone has their own favourite routes, especially in cities, where getting to experience wider open spaces or even just some greenery or water!

Some fantastic new images from the folks over at Flowing Data have compiled data from RunKeeper users to plot the most popular routes for a range of cities – and the results make for interesting viewing.

Starting with our home town, we can see that the favourite routes around London all focus on the river Thames. There is a major surge of activity around the Embankment and Westminster areas as runner look to take in the sights and the river all at once. Elsewhere, the city’s major parks are also popular, with Hyde Park, Regents’ Park and St. James’ Park all featuring highly. The huge surge of activity around the centre of the city is due to the popularity of lunchtime runs, as time-poor employees look to get some exercise into their lunch breaks.

New York is next, with the seafront areas around Manhattan proving very popular with runners. Central Park is unsurprisingly popular as well, with many runners continuing up towards Harlem and the Bronx. Southwards of the city, Brooklyn Heights and Sunset Park prove major attractions as runners flock to the Hudson River’s edge.

Now for Paris, which sees a very even spread throughout the city. Runners here apparently like to take a major loop to the Bois de Boulogne in the West and the Bois des Vincennes in the East.

Lastly, Sydney – where the runners tend not to stray outside the city, but instead look towards the seafront to make up their routes.

The maps were built by Dr. Nathan Yau. “There are many exercise apps that allow you to keep track of your running, riding, and other activities,” he said.

Yau decided that the information was too personal, and wanted to join the individual tracks together.

‘If there’s one quick (and expected) takeaway, it’s that people like to run by the water and in parks, probably to get away from cars and the scenery.

‘In the smaller inland cities, there seem to be a few high-traffic roads with less running elsewhere.’

Flowing Data has a wide range of other cities, mainly in the US but also in Europe – check it out!