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Thursday
May212015

Thursday
May212015

Garmin VivoActive Activity Tracker and Smart Watch Review

This isn’t going to be one of those product reviews that go over every detail about a product, you can go to the Garmin Website or read some other very detailed and well written reviews for the info if that is something you are interested in? I will focus on my own personal experiences with the Garmin VivoActive and point out my reasons for buying it and what I like and don’t like so far after my time using the Garmin VivoActive. Also make sure to checkout my Unboxing Preview video to see what comes in the box along with some of my initial thoughts on the Garmin VivoActive.

What does the Garmin VivoActive Activity Tracker and Smart Watch do for you?
The Garmin VivoActive works like an Activity Tracker and also doubles as a Smart Watch. The activity tracking side of the VivoActive senses your motion and steps all day long, and for when you get really active you can start a GPS enabled workout for outside activities like running, waking, biking hiking and many more. For high intensity indoor activities like weight lifting, cardio, CrossFit, martial arts, yoga or what have you, you have the option of wearing a heart rate monitor to track your heart rate for optimal calorie burring information.

Flipping over to the Smart Watch capabilities of the Garmin VivoActive, when paired with your Smart Phone, you will received notifications like text messages, emails, phone calls and pretty much any other notification you have setup on your Smart Phone. You can quickly see if there are any upcoming events in you calendar, look at the weather forecast and even customize your watch face or install new applications on your VivoActive. All this data is available via the touchscreen color display that uses ambient light for super clear viewing in virtually any lighting situation including darkness by using the built in backlight when required.

The Garmin VivoActive only comes in one size but it is not bulky at all so it should fit both men’s and women’s wrists nicely. You can also get the Garmin VivoActive in black or white and there are options to customize the watch band to a different color or even a leather strap.

With so many Activity Tracker Smart Watch options out there why did I choose the Garmin VivoActive?
It was a tuff decision but when it came down to it, the Garmin VivoActive had everything I needed and nothing more, the nothing more being a key component since a device so accessible can be a real distraction at times. The more it does the more I want to play with it and I already have enough trouble keeping my iPhone in my pocket at times ;) One of my biggest fears I have with the Apple Watch is simply that it will become a distraction with so much going on onscreen. And the other problem with the Apple Watch is that it is just so nice looking, perhaps too nice to feel comfortable thrashing it during a workout! I wouldn’t want to scratch up my $500 watch now would I!

What I was really looking for in a Fitness Tracker Smart Watch combination was of course my daily activity readings to get a good overall idea of how many calories I am burning just doing my normal day to day routine. But what I really like is the ability to throw on a dedicated Heart Rate Monitor when I want to perform my more intense activities or workouts. A persons heart rate is a really great form of data when calculating exactly how much energy they exert during a workout. Yes the Apple Watch has an optical heart rate sensor, but at this point in time optical heart rate sensors are just not accurate enough for high intensity training sessions that include a lot of arm movement or up and down heart rate activity.

There are even several areas where the Garmin VivoActive wins out over the Apple Watch. Features like having a built in dedicated GPS, being water resistant down to 50 meters, having up to three weeks of battery life on a single charge and an always on display. Not to mention a much cheaper price tag than the Apple Watch! 

In terms of Smart Watch capabilities the VivoActive has everything I need to be aware of, I get notified with a vibration of all my iPhone notifications including incoming phone calls. I can set alarms, quickly check my calendar events for the day and see what the weather forecast is going to be. Garmin also has the Connect IQ App Store where I can get custom watch faces, download new Apps and install widgets.

Is the Garmin VivoActive the perfect Activity Tracker and Smart Watch Combination?
For me it’s pretty close but there are a few areas I would like to see improved. Number one, Garmin needs to listen to their customers and offer more Event Naming options, I often perform CrossFit workouts and marital arts while wearing my Heart Rate Monitor to record my workout session. The only option I have that even comes close to this activity type on the Garmin VivoActive is indoor walking (on a treadmill I presume). The reason I choose the indoor walking option is because I don't need the GPS to be turned on during my indoor workouts.

The good news is, I can go into the software after the fact and change my workout type to a more appropriate name other than indoor walking, the problem is that there is no option for some very popular indoor activities like: CrossFit, martial arts, yoga, HIT training, boot camps, aerobics… There are however some rather obscure outdoor options for Activities like: stand up paddle-boarding, wind kite surfing, snowshoeing… go Figure! I really don’t think it would be all that difficult for Garmin to add a few more Activity Names to the Garmin VivoActive data fields to make it even more versatile and appealing to current and potential new customers.

For the most part my Garmin VivoActive has worked really well but I did have a few instances where the Bluetooth failed to work, during these times I was not able to pair with my iPhone or my Heart Rate Strap via Bluetooth. A simple restart of the Garmin VivoActive was all that was needed but I found it strange that this happened at all. I imagine that a firmware upgrade at some point should fix this small inconvenience and to be honest this Bluetooth disconnection has not happened to me for a while so perhaps it has already been addressed?

My Garmin VivoActive seems pretty decently built overall and so far the screen is holding up well, I have noticed a bit of a nick on one of the sides of the watch case since the watch case is made out of plastic. Perhaps a metal band around the watch case would toughen up this area and make it less prone to damage.
The Garmin Software:

In general, Garmin has a really nice software package, their online and Smart Phone Apps work well and show you just about everything you are going to need to see. You can access all the important information like steps, calories burnt, distance walked or run, how well you slept the night before, any activities you have done along with specific detailed information about that workout. Garmin also plays nicely with MyFitnessPal, and since I have a Fitbit Aria WiFi scale that tracks my body weight, this information is automatically updated to the Garmin App via MyFitnessPal. Of Course any food related info I am entering in MyFitnessPal shows up in the Garmin App as calories consumed so I can figure out if I need to eat more or get more active to meet my daily goals.

When using the Online Garmin App you can generally drill down into the information a bit more but other than that you have access to a lot of the same information.

Garmin has Developed their Connect IQ Store which so far is all free! You will find downloadable Watch Faces, Applications, Data Fields and Widgets to customize your Garmin VivoActive. The Connect IQ Store is open to 3rd part developers so we should see lots of new software added over time.

Again I would like to see Garmin add in more indoor type workout activities to their naming conventions, not that it changes how many calories you burnt in a given workout, but I think most people like to keep an accurate record of what exactly they where doing during an activity.

In Summary:
Is the Garmin VivoActive the perfect Activity Tracker and Smart Watch combination? Well even for me it’s not perfect but it is the best option for me right now in terms of offering complete and comprehensive activity tracking and the ability to interface with my iPhone and send me the information I really need to see.



   
Tuesday
May122015

Kinivo BTH240 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones Update Review

This review is a revisit of a Kinivo product I already reviewed about a year ago, so make sure to checkout my original review of the Kinivo BTH240 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones for detailed info on this product. I wanted to make this video for two reasons. Number one, to follow up on how my Kinivo BTH240 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones are holding up after a years worth of use. And number two to talk about some new colors introduced by Kinivo to this product line allowing you to personalize your Kinivo Headphones.

In terms of reliability and standing up to the test of regular use... So far so good, everything on my Kinivo BTH240 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones is working and sounding like the day I got them almost a year ago. To be honest they also look just as good too, no fading, ripping, wearing to speak of, even the soft headphone leatherette ear pads are blemish free with no rips or cracks.

The only negative thing I can say about my Kinivo BTH240 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones in terms of durability is that the rubber USB port cover gave it up a few months into using them. It just would not snap back into place and flopped around so I did what I had to do a cut it off. No big deal since I don't use my BTH240's in any type of wet situations.

For the price, these budget headphones are really great and I was surprised at how good they sounded when I got my original pair. Really the only thing missing was perhaps adding a bit of customization or a splash of color and the good news is Kinivo took care of this by offering their popular Kinivo BTH240's in Black, White, Red, Blue and Pink! Heck, at this low price why not get more than one pair in a few different color choices to go with your different gym outfits ;)

    

  

Wednesday
May062015

Skulpt Aim Real Time Muscle Quality and Body Fat Fitness Tracker Preview

Wow, I got my Skulpt Aim supper fast! So a big thanks to Skulpt for not only sending me my Skulpt Aim for review but also getting mine to me super quickly!

This is my Unboxing Preview Video for the Skulpt Aim so it won't be as detailed as my official review down the road when I have had some time to work with the Skulpt Aim. I do of course show you around the packaging and unbox my Skulpt Aim. In this video I quickly demo the Skulpt Aim Reader and their companion iOS App where much of the magic happens. I even did a quick Total Body Measurement on myself to try the Skulpt Aim out and it performed very well for me (152 MQ and 9.5% Body Fat).

If you're not familiar with what the Skulpt Aim actually is, it's a Fitness Tracker that doesn't track your activity but rather your bodies Fitness Level in Muscle Quality and Body Fat percentage. So in other words the Skulpt Aim lets you know if all the hard work you are doing is paying off and if there are areas you still need to do some work on...

Monday
May042015

Skulpt Aim Body Fat and Muscle Quality Reader on it's way!

What is a Skulpt Aim? I had no idea this product even existed just a few days ago? I have been using a body fat scale at home but it is widely know that they are not all that accurate. Body fat scales only measures the fat in your lower body and do a lot of averaging based on your age, gender and height to make an educated guess as to what your body fat really is. But if you're kinda like me and not really the average sort of physic for your age then the measurements can be way off.

There is always the good old caliper test which works pretty well but can be a bit complicated, of course there is the tried and true underwater testing but that can be expensive and time consuming, not to mention very wet!

And that brings us to the Skulpt Aim, a new device based on 16 years of research and 6 years of use in the medical felid that not only measures body fat but also muscle quality! And the Skulpt Aim is 5 times more accurate than a Body Fat Scale, 4 times more accurate than Professional Caliper Testing and even within 1-2% accurate of the God Standard "Underwater Weighing"!

So I am supper happy to be getting a Skulpt Aim shortly and I am very curious to see what my actual body fat is. I also want to note that the Skulpt Aim is designed to be used as a tool to help you along your fitness journey by tracking your progress no matter what your goals are... Lose weight, build muscle or both?