Gadgets do magnificent things these days — even down to helping you exercise. Here is a collection of our favourite tech for getting in shape.
Have we missed your favourite sports gadget? Let us know about it in the comments below!
Nike has been at the cutting edge of the fitness gadgets scene, first with the FuelBand and now with the Nike+Sportwatch GPS. Where the FuelBand is a pedometer that converts your daily activity into calories burned, the Sportwatch requires you to be a little more proactive: it's for dedicated joggers.
To this end, its features are all focused on your running activity. It includes the ability to record laps, using a TomTom-powered GPS to track your distance, time, pace, heart rate and calories burned. Via the Nikeplus website, you can also see your mapped route (including changes in elevation) and, on the watch itself, you can view your run history and set exercise reminders.
It's been a bit of a wait for the PowerTrekk, but it's finally on its way, with an MSRP in the US of US$229.99. If you're an outdoorsy type who still likes to be connected, it may soon become indispensable.
It uses hydrogen fuel cell technology to charge your gadgets — so all you need to do is add a tablespoon of water, connect your phone and away you go. We're not sure how well it works, but at the very least, it means you won't be without a means of emergency contact while in remote areas, due to a dead battery.
Liquid Image goggles
If your sports tend more to the "extreme" variety, Liquid Image sports goggles are designed to help you record your exploits for posterity. They incorporate a video-camera (with varying definition, depending on the pair) above the glasses, which allows you to get sharp, first-person footage of your adventures.
Categories include Scuba goggles, snow sports and off-road (a catch-all category). You can read CNET Australia's review of the Snow Board goggles here.
Fitbit ups the pedometer ante, quite a ways. The Ultra device not only measures your incidental exercise — a 3D motion sensor manages to catch the movements that a pedometer can't, showing you the exact number of steps you take every day, how many calories you burn and how much distance you travel — adding an altimeter to track elevation.
Even cooler, though, is the sleep monitor: if you slip the device into a special wristband, it will measure what time you went to bed, how long it took you to fall asleep, how often you woke, how long you were in bed and how many hours of that time you were actually asleep. And it functions as a timekeeper, too.
Sony NWZ-W262 2GB Walkman
The Sony W262 will make you look a little like you have robot ears (or maybe Fahrenheit 451's Seashells), but if you like to get your workout on with music (and who doesn't?), it's one of the most ergonomic MP3 players around. The player is actually part of the earpieces, with the cable looping snugly behind the head, eliminating tangling cords and excessive bouncing/skipping. It's also water-resistant, which means you can still exercise in the rain and even rinse off excess sweat — although, if you go swimming wearing it, it's your funeral.
If it's something a little more versatile you're after, smaller is better for sports — and Apple's iPod Nano is hard to go past. It has a handy clip to attach it to clothing and, at just AU$55, it won't break the bank.
And remember how we mentioned swimming? It'll cost a little extra, but if you purchase through Waterfi, you can grab a waterproof Nano with waterproof headphones for your personalised swimming soundtrack.
Sennheiser PMX 680i Sports
And if you grab a Nano, you might want to get some snazzy headphones to go with it. We like this pair, a collaborative effort between Sennheiser and Adidas. The flexible, shock-absorbing band keeps the headphones in your ears when you're at your most active, and the cable is reinforced with Kevlar. We're also a big fan of headphones that include a volume control on the cable — and it comes with a clip to keep the cable from annoyingly jouncing around too much. Like the Sony W262, it's water resistant and it lets in ambient noise, so you can keep track of your surroundings while maintaining high audio quality.
Golfing gadgets can't save you from a bad swing, but having a dedicated GPS on the course can certainly help out in other ways. The GolfBuddy Voice is a small device that clips on ... well, anywhere. With courses from all around the world pre-loaded (and more available), it gives you audio distance information from your position to the green, based on GPS coordinates. Using GPS, it can also automatically recognise not only which course you are playing, but exactly which hole, as well as calculate shot distances. And, it comes with a silicon case to protect it from the weather.
Wii Fit Plus
AU$129 (Game + board); AU$29.95 (Game only)
Staying fit around the home is a lot less space-consuming with Wii Fit Plus. It consists of a game disc and balance board that you use with your Wii console and controller to do a range of exercises, divided up into categories: balance, yoga, strength training, aerobics and 15 "Training Plus" games. You can even create and customise your own workout.
UFC Personal Trainer
From AU$28 (EB Games)
If you want something a little more vigorous, UFC Personal Trainer for Kinect is an MMA fitness program designed by the US National Academy of Sports Medicine, along with MMA experts Mark DellaGrotte, Greg Jackson and Javier Mendez. It has over 70 exercises, customisable workout routines, personalised training tools and an in-game training journal. It's hard work, but more varied than other fitness games — if you require variety to keep motivated, this is one worth checking out.