Episode 42: Torture testing the Samsung Galaxy S4

In this week's episode, we head to Vail, Colo., to test out wearable fitness trackers and the Galaxy S4, and see how they hold up to extreme environments and some rugged sports.

It's safe to say that our expectations of the GoPro Mountain Games, and the entirety of Vail, Colorado, were greatly exceeded. If the gorgeous weather, cobblestone streets, and bouldering world championships weren't enough to generate permasmiles, the Rocky Mountains provide a perfect environment for the Always On crew to do their thing. In fact, many of us around the office have determined that the land-locked, rectangular-shaped state of Colorado wields enough awesomeness to give Hawaii a run for its money.

Unfortunately, we also had extremely high expectations for the Samsung Galaxy S4, based on the performance of its predecessor, the S3, and were somewhat let down. In a gauntlet of mountain-inspired torture tests, we dropped it in the frigid waters of Gore Creek, took it to the top of a rock climbing wall, and then rode over it with mountain bikes on a rocky trail -- which could totally happen! You'll see the results for yourself, but just let me say this before you dive in: the S4 goes out a lot earlier than I would have expected.

In other parts of the show, we unbox the newest line in the Fitbit family, the Fitbit Flex . We've been waiting to get our hands on this thing since CES, and luckily, it came just in time for this trip. The Flex is Fitbit's first venture into the wristband realm, and straight out of the box, it's an attractive little thing. I was a little chagrined at its lack of a time display, but, hey, the LED light dance it does when you reach your goal sure is pretty.

Perhaps spending too much time with the "Jawbone," the mud run turned Jeff into a caveman.

So, as long as I was kitted out with the Flex and Jeff had been rocking the oh-so-attractive Jawbone Up , we decided to road-test them in true extreme-sports fashion: a high-altitude mud run. While the fitness bands get most of the attention, let's just say Jeff was thoroughly tested as well, given that he's training for a triathlon. After the mud run and about a week of wear, the Flex and the Up gave us some useful feedback -- but we discovered that 8,100 feet is not a suitable elevation for any type of exercise. Yep, the mud run transformed Vail into an oxygen-sucking deathtrap on a par with Everest base camp.

In this week's mailbag, a viewer reads our minds with a toughest gadget roundup idea. Plus, after a question of tablet preference, an e-mailer declares that Molly and Jeff would make excellent characters on the Muppets. Thanks for that, and as always, see you next week and thanks for watching!

 

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