Episode 42: Torture testing the Samsung Galaxy S4Always On heads to Vail, Colo., to test out wearable fitness trackers and the Galaxy S4 to see how they hold up to extreme environments and some rugged sports.
-May the mud be with you. -Oh. -Yes. -Good one. Those are good words. -Yes. -Those are good. This week on Always On, maybe I'll just toss this phone back to shore. Here we go. -You didn't make it. -Welcome to Always On. I'm Molly Wood. -And I'm Jeff Cannata. -This is the show where we take a look at the tech that's part of your life. -And your future. -And this week we are in Vail, Colorado. This is the largest ski resort in North America during the winter. In the summer, it's home to the GoPro Mountain Games where all these amateur and professional athletes show up to participate in outdoor adventure sports. -Yes. It is an extreme outdoor adventure competition, and it's the perfect place for us to test out some awesome gadgets. -I think it is. In fact let's get started by unboxing one of the newest hot wearable tech gadgets, the Fitbit Flex. Now the Flex was actually announced at CES and it's been surprisingly hard to get a hold of. It's Fitbit's first foray into the wearable space taken on the Nike FuelBand. I think they discovered that a weird little thing that clips on to your clothes and gets lost all the time is actually not a winner. All right. Let's get it out of here. It says do not load or transport package if damage because of the lithium ion battery. So I hope it's not damaged because we flew it to Vail, and I flew for you purists in the unboxing world the whole box. Okay. Fitbit return information just in case. Hopefully we won't need that. A very, very, very swollen up packaging thing because it went on the airplane. Don't go anywhere, little balloons. And then after all that it's just this little dealy, boink. Okay. Box over there. We got the kind of slate blue color. Oh, that's kind of attractive actually. It's good looking. It looks at first blush a little more attractive than the FuelBand. I mean the FuelBand has like kind of punk rock matte black thing going for it, but this is very stylish and that woh and it all comes apart, so it's pretty easy to unbox. That's good news. Let's see what's in there. An extra band. Okay. This is kind of a weird thing about the Flex. It actually comes with 2 bands. There are 2 different sizes. I personally find this a little bit wasteful because couldn't you just-- I could order like a small one or a large one. I know how big my wrist is because this one is just gonna get thrown away I think. Oh, what else is in here? It has this tiny little USB dongle for wireless charging. It can also thankfully because this is a big complaint about previous Fitbits, wirelessly sync with your phone over Bluetooth but it can only do it with iPhone and with some Samsung Galaxy phones, not the whole Android family. Kind of a let-down and then you still need this little guy. So you're gonna have to use up a USB slot if you wanna wirelessly sync. It's close. We're still not perfect but we're getting closer. And that and then here's the little charging cable for the actual tracker because the actual tracker is just this little small, this tiny little tracker thing just goes inside the band. The actual band doesn't have many of the technology in it. That's it for the box. Let's do the specs. The Fitbit Flex tracks your steps, your calories consumed, and your sleep which is kind of cool. It has obviously a wristband design with a little LED screen. The lights show you how much progress you're making toward your daily goal. There is Bluetooth 4.0 syncing. It can only do direct sync with iPhone, Samsung Galaxy SIII or Galaxy Note. The Flex software on the phone gives you ways to analyze all your stats and people love all that data. The Flex band is water resistant so you can wear it in the shower or in the rain, and Fitbit says it can also be submerged for up to 33 feet. Presumably that means you could go swimming with it. It comes with a USB cable and a socket adaptor. The battery life according to Fitbit is 5 to 7 days depending on usage. The Flex also has a vibration motor so it vibrates whenever you hit your daily goal and you can also set a wakeup alarm so it will gently wake you up with vibration. The Flex costs $99.95. So at first blush, the Flex looks promising. It fixes a lot of the problems with the original Fitbit. People love that cool Fitbit data collection and this band is attractive, it's lightweight and it's water resistant. So I have high hopes for it. Now I'm going to take it on a little bit more of a complete road test and get it a little bit dirty. Meanwhile, head on over to CNET and read our editor's full review for what they think as well. -It's time for a quick break but when we come back, we're gonna put that Fitbit Flex head to head up against the Jawbone UP in a rugged road test. -And the Galaxy S4 is gonna stare down some summer sports of its own. We take it climbing, biking, and into the water. Welcome back, everyone. Now the Galaxy S4 is the most powerful smartphone in the world according to our CNET editors and the GSIII was a very tough competitor on our torture test. -But how does the S4 handle outdoor environments? We took it to some extreme locations to find out. -Yes. -Are they both the same? -Way their time. No, I think these are my-- -We've never done this before. These readers are already cold. -All right. -I'm besotted. -You look totally awesome. -Do I? -Yes. You look all like manly. -Yes, for the first time in my life. -You know what? This is so beautiful. -You gotta take some pictures. -I gotta get a couple of pictures here. You know what though? I feel like this has been really the best idea. Maybe I'll just toss this phone back to shore. -Yes. I'm sure you can make it to shore. -I can make it, right? -Yes. No problem. -Yes. Here we go. -You didn't make it. -I didn't make it. -You didn't-- -I didn't' get even close. -No. This phone is totally getting wet. -All right. Let's go get it. We don't have any long line. -This is gonna be very, very, very cold. -Oh. By the way, we should point out at this juncture that this water is about 38 degrees moving at 677 cubic feet per second. -My hand can't move so you have to do it. -Oh. -It's on. It's on for now. -Hey. -Hey, man. We should do that again. -Catch. Oh. -Oh. -I didn't make it to shore. -You didn't make it to shore either. -This time you have to fish it out. -No. Come on. That's men's work. Yes. It's super cold. That is so cold. Hey but oh the phone is still on. -Still on. -Doing stuff though. Once we get on the Wi-Fi to call for help probably. -This is like what are you doing? -There's no chance. -I'm impressed. -All right. -It doesn't seem to have a problem. -I know. Okay. You know what? We're gonna put it in bag of rice until the next test comes around. Okay. Time for a drop test from a rock wall. -Let's take it to the wall. -How appropriate. All right. You guys you're gonna suit it up? -Yes, suited up. -You got it. -Let's do this. -Okay. Cool. -Come on over here guys. -So I have the phone securely tucked into my sports bra where I feel certain-- -Nothing bad can happen. -There's no way for it to fall out when I take a picture of Jeff. All right. -We're going up. -Up we go. -There's no special way to do this. You just go. -Yes. -Oh, God. Not used to the altitude. Super comfortable up here, guys. Super comfortable. The view is awesome up here actually. -I feel like maybe you should take a picture. -Okay. Gonna take a picture of you. -Yes. Let me just hand you this phone. -Okay. Just hand it right to me. -Okay. Yes. Wow. Oh, no. -Oh. -No, no. Oh. The phone fell on the grass. Oh, no. -That's the best part. That is the best part. Going down is the best part. -So let's check it out, see how it's doing. -It looks fine. -It's fine. -It landed on the soft grass. -Oh, it's still, it came on though. -It did come on. -All right. So I think we should see if we can-- -Hit the wall. -Bounce it off the wall like a little bit. -All right. -All right. There's no pretense at all at this point. Oh. That would definitely happen in real life. I hope that what you saw fly off wasn't a piece of your wall. That would be oh-- -Oh, yes. -Oh, yes. -Something bad happened. -Oh yes. We have a crack on the inside, hurled it against the wall. You definitely have internal crackage. You can see that there. -Yes. -And it did turn off for the time being. That could just be the water, but it still kind of okay. So we'll just continue to-- -Beat it up. -All right. I think I'm filming. I'm gonna try to record you from-- oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Did you hit it? -I hit it. -Oh, no. I dropped my phone. -Oh. -All right. This is it. -Get it. Yes. -Oh, my God. -Oh. Not good. -That's a lot of crackage. -Wow, that's a lot of crackage. -It is. -You hit that phone pretty good. -I did. I don't know-- -And gee, that's just the black thing. That was the protective plastic. -Your protective plastic did not do its job. -Yes. I know. -Yes. -That's pretty clearly a fail. -That's pretty clearly a fail. -Vail fail. -Vail fail. -Look at that. Looks like maybe they skimped a little on the S4. Maybe our tests just got tougher. -I think that's what it is. Now the S3 much more impressive. -I know. All right. Let's see how impressive we are when we try to test out our wearable fitness bands at 8,000 feet in elevation. -Yes. Get ready for this one. It is downright dirty. -Any last words before we start. -Other than don't die. -May the mud be with you. -Oh, good one. Those are good words. -Yes. -Those are good. -Oh. -That's virtual group bear hug. -One more chesty hug. 3, 2, 1, go. -Good job. -Wow. -Thank you. Good night. -Ow. That's why I have the first aid kit in my bag. -I'm not sure if you guys are aware of this but there's no air mattress-- -8,000 feet. 8,000-- -There's mud. -There's some mud. -You got some right here. -You got a little right here. Design-wise, the Fitbit Flex is great. It's super low profile. It's really actually pretty attractive. You would wear it in public and is very lightweight and easy to wear. My biggest complaint about it design-wise is that it's not a watch. So it has this kind of hieroglyphic dot thing for when you wanna see what's going on, but that's all it does and you wear it on your watch wrist which that kind of bugged me. The clasp on this thing is ridiculous. It's sort of this weird piece of plastic and you have to shove 2 pieces through 2 other pieces. That's really hard to get on. You'll guarantee you'll hurt your thumb trying to get it on there. It's just sort of a weird design and frankly it builds a little bit cheap. I don't know why they didn't spring for something better. So the Fitbit has always kind of been the most full-featured fitness tracker. This one is no different. I mean the fact that it tracks your steps, your calories and your sleep and then gives you all of that data in these kind of cool charts so that you can really get a pattern over time, it's probably the most useful of the fitness bands in that way. And I have to say I've gotten a little obsessed with the sleep tracker especially. And the app is nicely designed. I like the way it lays out data. I just wished it synced with more Android phones. -Well, I have to say despite their being no clasp, but it's only on here very gingerly the Jawbone stayed on my wrist throughout the entire mud run. That's pretty impressive. Now the bad news is it's hard to be able to test to see if the thing still lives. I can put it into sleep mode by holding down the only button that this thing has. So now it thinks I'm going to sleep. I have no idea any of the data right now. I have no idea how close I am to my goal today for steps taken or how I did with my sleep pattern. The only way to find that out is to plug that into my phone and there's no way I'm gonna be doing that while this thing is still muddy. Oh, God. Oh, God. Wow. Holy mother of pearl. Oh. -So you're all showered up. -Yes. -Like filling the mud off. -It feels very nice. And we're synced. We synced our bands with our phones and the apps. Evidently I moved 13,274 steps today. -See. I think that's kind of interesting because I moved 13,333. I mean that's-- -Wow. -Pretty much awash like-- -Yes. And we were together most of the day so it seems pretty accurate. -It's pretty accurate. So all in all, I mean I would say these have performed pretty well for us but what are your impressions of the Jawbone UP in general? -Well, I don't like the look of it. I mean I think there are probably people that would like the fact that it doesn't look like a technology device. For me it looks like a silly bracelet that I'm wearing that people kept commenting on and asking me what's that bracelet with a weird look in their eye and I can say oh, no, no, no. It's tracking my activity today because it doesn't look like tech. -All in all, you know as much as this did perform for me, it's comfortable, it's attractive. I feel like if the FuelBand is still on the table, it's only $30 more than these guys and you get a watch, you get kind of a cool sort of retro readout. To me that's a more full-featured, more gamefied app that's actually ultimately more motivating. -I have to agree. -So buy or do not buy. -For me it's a do not buy if you're somebody that really doesn't wanna look like you're wearing technology on your wrist and you like the look of this, you might wanna consider it. -I feel like if it came down to these 2, the Flex for me would be the buy. But like I said if the FuelBand is on the table, I'm going FuelBand. -Me too. -So I'm thinking that my sleep tracking is gonna show no activity tonight. -Yes. I wanna sleep like a log. It will be really interesting to see how that compares to the last few nights. -Tough enough. -Very cool. -That was rough. -Oh. -All right. -Intense. -Before we hit the hay though, let's answer some email. This first email comes from Jason all the way from the Philippines. -Nice. -He says, "Hey, Molly and Jeff. Can you do and roundup of the most durable products you tortured ever since you started the show or at least of the past 2 years? That's all and I really love your show." -Oh, God. -So we have to do and round them up. -And round them up. -Okay. -Exactly. -We will. -All right. We are gonna do that actually. I decided we're gonna do a special episode of our top 5 most durable gadgets with the blog post later this summer. It'll kick off season 5, so watch for that in early August. -Very cool. This one comes from Irad, I hope his name is, Erad. -Erad. -Irad. But he's from Boston and he writes, "As a web/app designer, I was wondering what's the overall best most useful tablet, money not an object, that you have both used? Oh, iPad not included because I already own one. I was thinking about getting a Surface Pro 128 version but would like to get your expert opinions." He also says, "Molly and Jeff, I think you would both make great Muppet characters." I think that'll be awesome. -That took a left turn at the end there. That's distracting-- -I appreciate that though. -From the original question. I guess so. Okay. Yes. Thank you. I like the hippie one, that hippie chick. -Oh yes. You can do the hippie chick. I wanna be Animal. Ah. Nice. -Okay. I'm sorry. You got a question. Tablet, most useful overall tablet that is not an iPad. -You know I really like the Surface. He brought the Surface. I liked it when I was playing with it before I turned it into a skateboard and destroyed it, but I would have to say the Galaxy 8. -I think so too. I gotta say the Galaxy 8 or even the Galaxy 10 which doesn't get a lot of love but if you want a full-sized tablet, that one is outstanding. All right. We will try to keep dispensing this useful advice if you keep emailing us, AlwaysOn@CNET.com. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. -Or in that theatre where Muppets hang out. -That too. We'll be there also. That's it from Vail everyone, but next week our off-road adventures continue because we're trying out 3 action cameras with 3 motocross racers. -Plus you'll get to meet Robonaut 2 just like I did. It's NASA's new robot that's changing the way we explore space. -And get your thumbs ready because we'll be unboxing the Blackberry Q10. -All that and more next week. We'll see you then. -Thank you for watching Always On. -I'm a maniac, maniac on the floor. And I'm dancing like I've never danced before. Oh, God. Oh, God. Wow. Wow. Mother of pearl. Wow. Wow. -Thank you [unk].