Magellan's Echo Fit watch can display real-time training data from your favorite apps (hands-on)

Magellan's new activity tracker can pair with a variety of apps to display information for running, cycling and golfing.

Dan Graziano Associate Editor / How To
Dan Graziano is an associate editor for CNET. His work has appeared on BGR, Fox News, Fox Business, and Yahoo News, among other publications. When he isn't tinkering with the latest gadgets and gizmos, he can be found enjoying the sights and sounds of New York City.
Dan Graziano
3 min read

Dan Graziano/CNET

LAS VEGAS -- While devices like the Microsoft Band and Samsung Gear S don't rely solely on a smartphone connection, Magellan has taken the opposite approach for its new sports watch. The company's Echo Fit sports watch is like many of the other trackers on the market. It can track the steps you take, distance you travel, calories you burn and the length of your sleep at night. All of this information can be viewed directly from the watch's screen or the company's Android and iOS app.

The Echo Fit doesn't include GPS, though, which requires users to carry their smartphone with them while running, cycling, golfing or during any other sports activities. The watch is essentially a shell that allows apps like RunKeeper, MayMapRun, Strava and GolfPad to install their own interfaces. While RunKeeper may display your pace, distance and time on a single screen when running, MapMyFitness can choose to display different metrics. Some apps, such as Wahoo Fitness, even let you control your music from the watch. All in all, the Echo Fit is compatible with 20 apps, most of which are available on both Android and iOS.

Dan Graziano/CNET

Other features include customizable goals, a backlight for the display and a stopwatch for individual workouts. An upcoming software update will also enable smartphone notifications for things like text messages, call alerts and emails to be displayed right on your wrist. There are some features missing, though. There's no vibration or a silent alarm and the watch doesn't automatically sync with a mobile device. You are instead required to press the top left button on the watch and select sync each time you want to connect it. The company explained that this helps prevent battery drain.

Similar to devices like the Garmin Vivofit , the Echo Fit doesn't require charging. It comes with a user replaceable coin-cell battery that will last around 6 to 8 months with typical usage. A company representative said that the watch could be worn in the shower, but not while swimming. It has a water-resistant rating of IPX7, which means the watch can withstand exposure to water of up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.

Magellan is taking an interesting approach to the wearable market. The Echo Fit felt like a normal sports watch. It's lightweight and definitely not a premium design, but it's not meant to be. While not everyone enjoys running or cycling with their phones, there are some people who rely on tracking apps like RunKeeper and also enjoy listening to music during their workouts. The Echo Fit could be appealing to this crowd, although it was a bit bulky and may not be very fashionable for all day wear.

The Magellan Echo Fit is available now for $130 (converted to £85 and AU$160) and $180 (about £120 in the UK and AU$220 in Australia) when bundled with a heart rate monitor.

There are many more activity trackers and running watches being announced this week at the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas. Follow CNET's ongoing coverage of CES 2015 here.