Thursday, March 3, 2016

HRM/Activity Monitor Testing

So, the credit card is paid off, time to give the Lumoid Home Try-On a spin.  I did some research on products I thought might meet my activity monitor needs, and rented them for two weeks.  Some of the items I'm renting are premium, so I paid $54 total, not the advertised $30.  It will say on each product page what the rental fee is.  You can get up to five items at a time.

I have several goals in this try-on.  My wrists are sensitive, some watches are really uncomfortable and I can't wear them, so no point in buying one without getting to try it on for a while.  Two, I've not seen any software descriptions that do what I need, so I want to explore the features available and see what they can do for me.  The #1 thing I want out of this is an alarm that tells me when my heart rate is too high while doing farm chores.  I've several times gone at a task with too much vigor for too long and had a resulting flare-up in my fibromyalgia.  I could wear my HRM strap, but I don't always plan on going out and doing something difficult, so something I wear all the time as a daily habit would be better.

Lumoid Rental Experience

  • Each of the watches came in a little mesh pouch with accompanying accessories and instructions.  
  • The outer box was large because I also rented a smart scale...
  • Nothing came charged, make charging all the devices your first priority when your box arrives.
  • Follow the written directions, some of the devices are picky about how they pair, and premature bluetooth pairing may mess up the setup process.  I had to factory reset one watch partway through the process because of this.
  • Be careful to stay organized and keep the right accessory bits together with the correct instructions.

Fitbit Charge HR


Package contains: a USB charger and a wireless sync dongle.

Charger: Charging cable fits perpendicular into the underside of the watch.  Simple.

Wrist strap: The strap is really short.  This is apparently my own fault, Lumoid offers two sizes and small is the default size.  I should have chosen large.  Fitbit also offers an XL option if you get yours elsewhere.  The directions say to wear the band 2-3 finger widths above the wrist bone, and loose enough to move and not make marks on the skin, take that into account when using the size chart.

Other: Turning this device off is such a song and dance I just didn't bother when putting it back in the box.  It continues it's green flicker at me...

Fitbit App 

Didn't give the software a fair shake because of my problems wearing the device.  I'd give it a second chance if I did another rental of a larger size.

The Fitbit app also kinda works with the Fitbit scale, but mostly the scale talks directly to my online Fitbit account over my home wifi.  The phone app is aware of the device's existence and lets me change a couple settings, but not view my results.

Moto 360 2nd Gen

Package contains: A/C charger with stand.

Charger:  An elegant stand with wireless charging.  Simply drop the watch into the stand.  Easiest charger to use of the set.  Charging cable is a standard micro USB in case you have some power bank you want to use other than the included half amp AC charger, but the instructions of course recommend you use the included charger.

Wrist Strap: Leather.  Very adjustable.  Comfortable when worn above the wrist bone.

Other:

  • Apparently "Power Off" doesn't mean power off when it's in the dock...  
  • When doing chores the band slipped down and the watch stopped taking HR readings.  Since this is the main thing I wanted out of a wrist based HR monitor, that's just not going to cut it.

Overall:  This is a really cool toy, elegant packaging around the technology.  I'd love to own one, but I'm too cheap to spend $300 on a toy that doesn't provide the HR tracking I want.  There are plenty of more economical activity tracking options that don't have the HR feature.  After it failed the chores test I put this back in the rental box, not because of the problems with it, but because I didn't want to get addicted in the two weeks I get to keep it.  I might be tempted to try it again in summer when barn coats are not a factor in watches staying put.  If I did buy one, I might end up writing my own custom app for it.

Motorola Connect (phone app)

Adjust watch faces, docking mode font color, access related apps, find last reported watch location.  Not sure there's much to do here, but it's supposedly connecting to my Moto online account and recording...  something...

Moto Body (phone app)

Integrates with a lot of other activity tracking services, Fitbit, Strava, MapyMy, Under Armor Record, and Google Fit.

The "Heart Activity" function just shows minutes of activity, not actual heart rate zones.  The app also tracks steps, calorie burn, and running time/distance.

Moto Body (watch app)

Provides Last HR reading, detailed screen shows heart rate, zones, and daily accumulated activity.  Auto-disables to save power, so you can't keep this up while exercising.

Also shows steps and calories burned.

Garmin Forerunner 225

Package contains: USB charger.

Charger:  a bit awkward, it clips on to the watch and has to go a specific way.

Watch Band: Wide rubber band, dual holes.  Reasonably comfortable, not as nice as the leather ones. Removable, but doesn't take standard watch band replacements.

Other: Not user friendly at all.  Had to page through the manual to turn on bluetooth pairing and get up and running with the app.  Never got as far as setting up an HR alarm.  Huge.  Even if it does the job I need it to do, it's not a daily wear appliance.  Husband says: "They put a watch band on that dinner plate."
No HR stats in the app.  Does sync to watch and do some settings updates.  Doesn't even help the watch set the time.
Package contains: a micro USB cable, charging cradle, and AC adapter.

Charger: the watch snaps very easily into the cradle.  The charging cable that comes with it seems too tight.

Watch Band: Fancy leather with a "leather deployment clasp".  (No I didn't know that term either, I had to look it up to bring it to you.)  As fancy as it was though, I couldn't get the watch firmly anchored to my wrist without leaving a mark.  The shape of the clasp does not match the shape of my wrist.

Other:  The one control button is recessed on the back of the watch.  You have to take it off to perform operations with that button.  Thankfully that is rarely needed once setup is complete.

The HRM functionality is pretty poor.  In order for it to engage you have to hold the watch face down against your arm with the other hand.  I may as well use my cheap $5 obsolete fingertip HR sensor watch.

The bluetooth was flaky, when I went searching for help, the official site was out of date, but other sites where people were troubleshooting pairing issues abounded.

The face was much bulkier than the Moto 360, but less so than the Garmin.

Overall: I suppose one can't expect the quality of the Moto 360 at half the cost.  It looks decent, runs the standard Android Wear functionality fine.  HR feature isn't worthwhile though.

ZenWatch Manager (phone app)

The interface is very busy.  Watch app must be activated and given permissions for sync to occur.  Has lots of alternative watch faces

Among the suggested apps is UP by Jawbone.  Jawbone does support Android Wear, but I didn't want to create an account so I didn't finish setting up the app.

ASUS ZenWatch Wellness (phone app)

Well, it's pretty...  But the UI could use some work.  Some settings changes didn't show up on the main settings page until I left it and came back.

Comes with idle alert, a feature lacking in Moto Body.

ASUS ZenWatch Wellness (watch app)
Has no exit feature, you just have to let it time out.  Shows step and calorie burning data for the day.

ZenWatch Remote Camera

Not applicable to fitness tracking.

ZenWatch Music

Not applicable to fitness tracking.

Fitbit Aria Smart Scale

Package contains: Just the scale, replaceable batteries installed and full charge.

The wifi setup was a bit of a pain, but eventually I got it working.  See a video on what "tap" means for starters...  I couldn't manage to get the setup completed from my phone, worked fine from a windows tablet.  You have to have a wifi device with a web browser to set up the scale.

Not much to say here, it measures weight and body fat percentage, it uploads the data to Fitbit.com.  No fancy app, no complex features.  It does the job.  I might buy this one, especially if I decide to go with a Fitbit activity tracker.  The competing device I'd originally asked for and was out of stock was the Withings Smart Body Analyzer Scale.

Generic Android Wear Software

I had to factory reset the Moto 360 when I accidentally bluetooth paired it before going through the Android Wear setup.  Start with the app and follow the on-screen instructions.

Settings lets you change the notifications that show up on the watch, mute the phone when connected to the watch, turn off new feature tips, and adjust privacy settings.

On the main screen you can find additional watch app suggestions, configure "actions", and change the watch face.

None of the fitness related features or model specific features are accessible in this app.

Lots of my existing apps paired up with the phone after getting Android Wear set up, causing a lot of install notifications on the watch.  The items that you do want to use on the watch probably have to ask for permissions to start working.  If you want to uninstall them you can do so by denying permissions and then requesting an uninstall at the next prompt.  I don't know how you would uninstall something you've already used.

Changing the watch face in Android Wear or Motorola Connect is near instantaneously reflected on the phone.  None of the default watch faces show heart rate.

Google Fit (phone)

None of the favorite activities I can pick resembles farm work.  We'll stick to walk/run/bike...

You have to manually turn on body sensor permissions in Google Fit.

Shows me inactive calories burned, but no HR reading.

Google Fit (watch)

Workout based.  HR only updates when tapped.  App auto closes

Google Fit Activity (watch)

Select an activity (walking, biking, situps...)  tracks GPS.  No HR monitoring other than as used in calorie burning calculations.

Conclusions

I really like the Moto 360 as a watch, but can't justify the $300 price tag on it's health tracking features.  I can get a bluetooth step tracker for $20...  

The scale was a pain to set up, but easy to use.  If already using a Fitbit activity tracker, it would be nice to have the additional data automatically uploaded to the same place.  Reading about the technology in general, bioimpedance isn't a terribly accurate measure of body fat, I might be better off returning to the old belt hole watching method.

As far as activity trackers goes, I think I'll be looking next at devices under $100 and forget about the HR requirement.  Even Fitbit has offerings in that range.  I've not decided yet if I'm going to do another trial of these cheaper trackers.