Citizen’s CZ Smart almost got hybrid right

Frustratingly, the Citizen CZ Smart Hybrid is still the one I’d buy if the price wasn’t important to me, and the fact it has been pleasurable to live with on the tech side gives me hope for the future of hybrids from watchmakers. There’s still absolutely a place for hybrid smartwatches, and Citizen’s watch very nearly gets the formula right, but the price tag threatens to put the people most interested off right from the start… More here.

I tried one of these on last week and was hugely disappointed by how it looked and how it felt on the wrist. To sum it, it is too big and it feels really cheap. A shame.

Garmin Epix (very) In-Depth Review

Creating a ‘What’s New’ category for the Epix Gen 2 is arguably kinda tricky. After all, am I comparing it to the Gen1 brick from 7 years ago? Or am I comparing it to its realistic older sibling, the Fenix 6 series? In this case, since none of you want to see a list 918 features long of all the things Garmin has added in 7 years to all their watches (such as an optical HR sensor), I’m going with a comparison to the Fenix 6 series. As such, this portion of the review will be almost identical to that of the Fenix 7 series in terms of new features, since the two watches have almost identical software features. The only differences in software are those related specifically to power savings for the AMOLED display… More here.

If you want an in-depth review of fitness tech DC is the man you will want to read.

The Garmin epix™ (Gen 2)- Apple’s battery team need to speak to Garmin

The stunning 1.3″ always-on AMOLED display brings your watch to life, even under bright sunlight.

Trusted button controls that work in any environment are matched with a responsive new touchscreen interface for quick access to selections and map features.

Fit the watch’s look to your lifestyle with options for a sapphire display, titanium bezel or stainless steel bezel… More here.

£899 is a lot of money, but this is a ‘complete’ fitness watch in almost every sense apart from 4G. The 16 day battery life with an AMOLED display is extremely impressive and even with always-on enabled you get 6 days.

Why is Fitbit charging people to view their own data?

Garmin’s project lead for the Venu 2 Plus, said the company wouldn’t lock data behind a paywall. “It’s your data,” McClendon said. “We’re not charging you the ability to access your data, and that’s something we will continue to do and that we feel very strongly about.” More here.

I have been using the Fitbit Charge 5 recently, but I will not keep it purely because Fitbit charges £7.99/month after 6 months to continue viewing vast swathes of the data the device collects.

What grates is that the devices have not reduced in price and yet this subscription charge now appears. That is the worst of both worlds and I would rather use a Garmin tracker precisely for this reason. It is a big mis-step in a world where Garmin and Apple do not have such charges just to view your own data.

The Fitbit Charge 5 is good, but inconsistent

So far I must say that the Fitbit Charge 5 is a decent fitness tracker in terms of the hardware design. The screen is responsive which is unusual for Fitbit devices and also visible, in a good way, in most lighting conditions. It also sits well on the wrist meaning that it can be worn on your dominant wrist day to day and not get in the way. To add to this I would recommend a third party elastic or nylon strap to ensure true flexibility.

It is very much just a tracker with limited installed apps and very few available to install, and just a few clock faces to play with. You can only use one at a time which again means you cannot swap faces outside of the app, but as a tracker you kind of know what you should be getting. It is not a smartwatch, but Fitbit Pay works well and the interface is good enough when you consider how small a space it has to work in. For a tracker, it ticks enough boxes in my opinion.

Where it is problematic is in the consistency which knocks my faith in all trackers. On the treadmill my heart rate runs at approx 110, but on every 4th run the Fitbit stays below 70 which is definitely far from correct. I have checked the way it is attached to my wrist and also taken a quick reading on the Apple Watch so this is definitely a strange fault.

Also, in comparison to the Garmin Fenix it is a very different beast. For sleep the Garmin, and Garmin, is terrible with completely random sleep scores appearing no matter how well or bad I sleep. The Fitbit seems to be a bit more accurate, but is definitely more generous in how it judges my sleep.

For steps the Fitbit is giving approximately 10% more than the Apple Watch or Garmin which is a concern, but strangely it seems to be much cleaner and more accurate with the GPS tracks. I moved to using the iPhone for GPS in the end to preserve battery performance (the mismatch between battery % in the app and device remains) and I can see it getting 6 days on average which is OK for such a small device.

Now that I have experience Garmins, Fitbits and Apple Watches extensively over the past 5 years I am left with a concerning conclusion. I am starting to wonder if a lot of the stats we see are more algorithmic than based on direct evidence from the sensors. The differences between the various brands, and even devices from the same brand, are often too much to give confidence that they are worth wearing. Consistency is key and this can help you to get fitter so they are definitely useful, but for me I am starting to lose a little faith.

The Charge 5 is a decent product with some very odd quirks, but for now I am going to go without any smartwatch or fitness tracker for a while and will see how I get on.

Testing the Fitbit Charge 5: not the best of starts

I have been testing the Fitbit Charge 5 and after 1 day I am already struggling. My experience with Fitbit has note historically been one where I have a lot of faith in the hardware, but this is a strange start. See above and you will see the battery at 68% in the Fitbit app and this was after only 12 hours. That is disappointing for a device with a 7 day battery life claim.

Not to worry though because the Fitbit Charge itself is quoting 97% battery remaining. What is going on there? 12 hours later the app is still stating 68% with the Fitbit now at 93%- I’m confused .

Is your fit tech healthy?

‘I have seen first-hand in clinical practice that not meeting goals or falling short of targets can have negative implications for people. Missing these goals has led to them having negative thoughts, lowered mood and even strategies such as restrictive eating or binging and purging.’

However, in contrast, smashing goals and meeting expectations can often lead to feelings of euphoria and improved self-esteem, and might explain the appeal and success wearables continue to have in today’s mainstream market… More here.

A decent article. I remain in two minds about fitness tech, but do appreciate the automation of monitoring movement and steps etc. The trick is to use the information in a less dominating way.

Walking May Be Just As Good For Your Heart As Running

So one way to think about this is that running and walking will both get you to your baseline cardio fitness goals, but running will just do so faster. Right now, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like walking), or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (like running or HIIT)—or some combination of the two—spread throughout the week, as well as two days of strength training… More here.

Interesting stuff. The thing about walking is that it is open to many more people than running and is almost always the best exercise to start with if you want to improve your fitness.

A recovering smartwatch owner…

Since I dropped the Apple Watch back onto its shelf I have been wearing a Garmin fenix and overall I have been enjoying the experience.

The sense of freedom compared to the Apple Watch was acute and alongside the decent battery life it felt like the right solution. And then I realised that I was not really even checking the fitness stats. I would press the button before and after workouts and aim for a minimum of 10,000 steps a day which includes at least 1 hour of exercise.

After doing this for a few years I realised that I know when I have done enough exercise in any given day. I just know and I started to wonder if I really needed a myriad of stats to tell me how I am progressing.

Like most of the population I do not need to see incremental progression in my fitness, I do not need to get a fastest running or walking time and I do not need to be aiming for a lower heart rate or more reasonable respiration. I simply need to keep my weight at a reasonable level, I need to be fit enough to run and walk when I want, and I need to feel healthy. Anything above that would be a hobby and ideally would require intrusive tracking.

So, I dropped the Garmin and started wearing a real watch again. My iPhone can do the work of notifying me when things happen and I can remember when I should exercise.

As an example, a simple note can suffice if you are building up your exercise over time-

Fast running
29/10 40 secs (40)
30/10 50 secs (90)
31/10 60 secs (150)
01/11 70 secs (220)
02/11 0 secs
03/11 80 secs (300)
04/11 90 secs (390)
05/11 60 secs x3 (570)

For everything else I can simply remember to exercise and see what happens over time. This may sound ridiculous to you because that is how normal people live their lives, but when you get stuck in the smartwatch / fitness watch rabbit hole it can be a tricky place to climb out of.

It will be interesting to see what happens and to try to prove to myself that I can stay fit without a digital piece of equipment telling me what to do.

The WHOOP 4.0 is reaching too far

Designed to meld the worlds of fashion and fitness, the WHOOP 4.0 band sports a minimalist, sans-screen design that echoes the fashion sensibilities of the Livestrong band. With a design that highlights the fitness tracker’s woven fabric band, the WHOOP 4.0 does two jobs remarkably well – it expertly tracks your fitness stats, and looks good while doing it… More here.

I like the design and feature-set of the WHOOP, but £24/month is a reach in my view when you consider the competition out there and how quickly every brand in this market is moving forward.