While advancements with electronics continue to race forward, pedometers, a.k.a. step counters or activity monitors, have made only short strides. Sure, they have been tweaked to include memory, radios or touch heart rate monitoring, but they basically remain little pods that clip onto your waist at the hip and have a screen that shows how many steps you’ve taken or how much distance you’ve covered. Some are more accurate than others, but that’s about it.
The Timex Wireless Fitness Tracker takes that concept and blows it apart. It is a fully featured Ironman Triathlon watch that not only keeps time and has a sleek look, but also includes a 50-lap memory chronograph with laps and splits, dated training log, timers, alarms, dual time zones, a night light and water resistance. The watch also comes with a small pod-like device that clips to your waist at the hip, but it’s very different from other pedometers. Primarily, is has no readout. In fact, the super smooth face of the pod has no lids or buttons to fiddle with.
The pod does act as a counter, but it’s more of a transmitter, since the wrist watch or receiver has an activity mode that allows you to check your number of steps and a variety of other things. For example, it measures distance, and we found that this function works pretty well, as long as you calibrate it carefully and walk with even steps. It also indicates calories used, which is a ballpark estimate, as calorie-counters are. While you’re moving, the device measures pace and speed, but this is based on steps, so the numbers aren’t figures you can take to the bank. Still, it’s interesting.
In addition, the pod tracks steps per minute, steps left (on whatever goal you set, with default being 10,000) and – this we love – activity time. We found that wearing it on workdays meant we didn’t really cover very many steps (not counting a break to run or bike where we didn’t wear the pod). But the real eye-opener was our discovery that we spent very little time during the workday actually moving. Sometimes we didn’t “move” more than 45-60 minutes, meaning a walk to another office or to lunch or to the car. Dang!
We found that the step-counter was pretty accurate while we were actually walking. When we wore it while sitting at a desk or in a situation where we weren’t moving forward in a definitive motion, the device would occasionally “jiggle” and record “steps” as we reached for something on the desk or got up and moved a half-step across the room. Nevertheless, if you want to wear it that way, just realize you may have actually moved only a third or so of the steps counted. But take it out on a walk or walk to lunch or on a treadmill, and it’ll show you reality. Also, because of the wireless transmission, you have to flip a tiny switch on the pod to start counting steps. If you take off the watch and move more than 3 feet from the pod, the watch automatically bleeps and turns off the wireless.
This is a nifty tool because you can just ignore the pod on your waist without having to fiddle with lifting your shirt (eek!) and trying to decipher the read-out or push buttons. And you can look normal by just referring to a read-out on your wrist on the watch face. For other activities, you can just use the chronograph or other interval timers. Basically, this is a great multi-purpose tracker tool for everything from everyday movement to walks to pure athletic pursuits.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $90