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Wearable Tech

​New Balance made an Android Wear running smartwatch, the RunIQ

The RunIQ smartwatch included GPS, an optical heart-rate sensor and onboard music storage for phone-free listening.

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Sports footwear and apparel giant New Balance unveiled its new RunIQ smartwatch on Wednesday at the annual CES trade show in Las Vegas. The watch, which was originally teased at last year's show, was built in collaboration with both Intel and Google.

RunIQ is powered by Google's Android Wear operating system. As the name implies, the watch is designed for running. It include GPS and GLONASS for measuring pace and distance, an optical heart-rate sensor, onboard music storage for phone-free listening, and it can display notifications when connected to a smartphone.

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Dan Graziano/CNET

You can expect up to 24 hours of battery with what New Balance calls "typical usage," or up to 5 hours with a continuous GPS signal and heart-rate tracking. Battery life is on par with other smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch Series 2 ($379 at Amazon Marketplace), but falls short compared to running watches from Garmin and other companies. The Garmin Forerunner 235 ($250 at Crutchfield), our favorite running watch, will last up to a week with normal usage, or 11 hours with a continuous GPS signal and heart rate tracking.

Other features of the RunIQ include a dedicated Lap button, waterproofing down to 50 meters, and the ability to sync with Strava, a popular tracking app and social network used by runners and cyclists.

Despite its large size, the watch was relatively lightweight and comfortable on my wrist. The top right button is used to jump right into the preloaded Strava app, while the bottom right is to quickly access music. The dedicated Lap button (which is also the top right) is nice, but for stopping and pausing runs you will need to tap the touchscreen, which could be difficult with sweaty fingers or when wearing gloves.

Preorders start January 5. The watch will be available online and in New Balance stores on February 1 for $300 (about £240 or AU$420).

Specs

  • Android Wear
  • 1.39-inch AMOLED display
  • 4GB of internal storage
  • 512MB of RAM
  • Waterproof up to 5 ATM
  • Optical heart-rate sensor
  • GPS, GLONASS, accelerometer and gyroscope

This article will be updated with my hands-on impressions later this week.

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