Adidas' new MiCoach Fit Smart wristband is a fitness tracker that measures your heart rate as you exercise, and was unveiled today at the Wearable Technologies USA Conference in San Francisco. Unlike the German company's 2013 MiCoach Smart Run, which cost $399 and was decked out with a GPS and a touchscreen, this device only collects data on your pace, distance, and stride rate as you run, as well as estimating the calories you burn.
The Fit Smart will begin selling through Adidas' online and retail stores on August 15 around the world, and cost €199 in Europe and £199 in the UK. It will then hit the US on August 17 exclusively at Best Buy for $199, and expand to other retailers on September 1. Australian availability hasn't been announced, but $199 converts to around AU$210.
The Fit Smart weighs 58 grams (2 ounces) and comes in a choice of two colors: black or a translucent milky white. Its silicone body keeps it durable, lightweight, and sweatproof, but it doesn't render the tracker completely waterproof, so swimming is out of the question.
During our brief time with it, we thought the device looked a bit chunky and wide -- it can easily dominate a skinnier wrist, and looks enormous when compared to sleeker, narrower fitness trackers such as the Jawbone Up24. The band does come in two lengths, however, for smaller or larger wrists.
After handling both color variations, we definitely preferred the black version. The dot matrix-style display (more on that later) is more prominent against the black silicone. As for the white model, we weren't big fans of its pearly color tone, which can look a bit dirty at times (even more so after a run, we imagine).
The device gives feedback via vibration and can last up to 10 hours with a full charge. On the face of the band, the display shows your current performance spelled out in LED lights. The tracker can also light up blue, green, yellow or red, to indicate how intense your workout is. These colored lights can also guide you when to slow down or go harder in your workout.
The app component
Working in conjunction with a proprietary app called MiCoach Train and Run, the Fit Smart offers coaching feedback and pre-planned workouts, including weekly goals. These short-term targets are designed to add up to long-term gains.
The app is compatible with both Android and iOS devices, supports 11 languages, and can also be used to adjust settings on the tracker.
As you train, the Fit Smart records your workout data using the heart-rate monitor on the back and an accelerometer inside. When you've finished working out, the band syncs with your phone over Bluetooth, dropping the records of your exertions into the app and the MiCoach online service. Adidas is committed to being open with your data, so the details of your workout can be exported to third-party online fitness services and social networks such as Strava and Endomondo.
We found the Fit Smart's interface easy to read, but not very intuitive to navigate. Working with only a center button at the bottom and two buttons on the right of the face, it took a while to figure out how to get the device to start checking our heart rate, or begin a new workout session.
In addition, as a more affordable fitness tracker aimed for a casual athlete, the Fit Smart isn't as feature-rich as the Smart Run or other, more sophisticated trackers. And while this does keep the device's cost down, you'll have to make do without some features that can be quite useful for certain workouts, like a GPS. Be aware too, that wrist-based heart monitors don't have a great track record, although we haven't fully tested this one.
The lack of a GPS won't be a problem if you run the same route every day or train on a treadmill, and if you do want to map your run, you can still do so with the Fit Smart with some extra work. (You'll need to exercise with your Fit Smart and your phone; the phone will then track the route and then add the GPS data to the other data collected by the Fit Smart, all wrapped up in one file.)
This bare-bones set of features was a deliberate choice by Adidas, which doesn't view the Fit Smart as a lifestyle band that's can be worn all day. But for a device that's nearly $199 -- and even more expensive in the UK and Europe -- you may find yourself wanting more to justify the price.