Garmin enters the fitness tracker market with its Vivofit

May 22, 2014 

I had my editor test the Garmin Vivofit, a fitness tracker, since she is a runner and also frequently chasing after her 2-year-old. Here is her review after testing it out for 15 days:

I wore the Vivofit side-by-side with my year-old Fitbit Flex, which both work as pedometers to track your steps and also calculate calories burned by your efforts, based on information you input into an account profile. There are a couple of differences: One, the battery -- the Flex is rechargeable, while the Vivofit takes two CR1632 batteries. Two, the Vivofit has a screen to display information, while the Flex has five lights to indicate your day's achievements. Both fitness trackers have similar band closures, and both are equally likely to be accidentally knocked off.

Compared to the Fitbit, the Garmin seems a bit stingy on the steps. In the 12 days I was able to compare (thanks to the battery needing to be recharged on the Flex), the difference ranged from 2.1 percent to 13.8 percent. Neither is probably completely accurate.

Bottom line, I prefer the Vivofit, not only because of the battery type, but because the screen shows you the information you want to know with a quick scroll using the surface button. Syncing is as easy as opening the app, holding the button on the device until "sync" appears and letting it do its thing. Garmin confirmed that any firmware updates will be sent automatically to the device while syncing. Also, if you already own an ANT+ heart rate monitor, you can pair it with this device (though I didn't try).

Details: $130 for just the Vivofit, or $170 for the tracker and a heart rate monitor; www.garmin.com

Keep that phone on a leash

The Kenu Highline is a case and leash system to keep your iPhone 5/5s attached to you at all times, preventing it from being left behind, stolen or accidentally dropped.

One end of the braided Kevlar-reinforced elastic coil can attach to a belt loop, for example, and stretches more than an arm's length. Taking photos or talking on the phone won't be a problem. The other end attaches to the snap-on case, a proprietary Lightning tip lock system that goes into the iPhone's lightning port and locks into a tiny leash connector at the bottom of the back of the case.

The case itself is made of polycarbonate and has a protective rim.

The Highline is a complete system; the leash cannot be used independently with other cases.

Details: $34.95, www.kenu.com

Ecoterra offers the sound of summer

The ECOXGEAR Ecoterra Boombox is the perfect summer sound system.

A great thing about the waterproof Ecoterra is that it floats on its own, without additional hardware, and can be temporarily submerged without interrupting play.

Just put your media player (most smarthphones will fit) and whatever else you want ­­ as long as it's relatively flat (keys, cash, etc.) _ inside the waterproof compartment, which also protects the items from sand. (The compartment measures 5.2-by-4-by-0.75 inches.) To play your music, connect the 3.5mm audio jack to your media device, which pumps sound out of 3-inch forward facing speakers.

It works off of AC on land or eight AA batteries on land, sea or air, which is good for about 25 hours of use. There also are multiple carabiner clips on the shell to attach it to most anything, helping it stay in place while floating or on land.

It measures 7.5 inches tall by 14.5 inches wide and is 5 inches deep. It weighs in at just a pound so if you want that '80's feeling of carrying it around on your shoulder, go for it.

Details: $149.99, www.ecoxgear.com

Gregg Ellman, gadgets guru, can be reached at greggellman@mac.com. Follow him on Twitter @greggellman.

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