Tuesday, October 28, 2014

LifeTrak R450 Activity Tracker

The advent of smart watches have been followed by a slow but large wave of fitness trackers such as FitBit and the JawBone UP (these two being the more premium and well-known models). This in turn was more quickly followed up with by combination devices that monitor your physical activity alongside remote smartphone notifications, conveniently delivering to you the latest in your digital and online activities. The LifeTrak Brite R450 is fitness tracking company LifeTrak USA's latest flagship product, first launched towards the end of September and now available here in Singapore.


In addition to basic activity tracking, the R450 boasts some pretty impressive (-sounding, at least) features:

  • ECG-accurate heartrate monitoring that allows for more personalized calorie-burn information
  • light exposure levels, particularly the blue wavelength, which is said to affect mood, energy levels, and quality of rest
  • nap/sleep management, waking you up at an optimal time when you are not in deep sleep so that you are properly refreshed
  • enhanced step filtering and dynamic distance calibration (basically no more pedometer cheating like you did by rattling your Digimon)
The R450 also helps keep a check on your fitness goals (totally need this...), and lets you know when you have fallen behind or accomplished your goals, to keep you on trak (teehee). It syncs with the LifeTrak smartphone app to save longer term data for deeper insights. It supports 8 types of smartphone notifications, including IM, SMS, reminders and notifications from major apps.

At this point the R450 is compatible with iOS devices (click link to product page in first paragraph for detailed product compatibility), but the website as well as the distributor here confirms that the company is hard at work to expand compatibility to Android devices by the end of the year. Data can only be fed to the LifeTrak app right now, but "development is underway to get it integrated with Apple Health Kit and the Android equivalent". Which is tres bien. The watch uses a coin cell battery, avoiding the need to charge every other day (press release claims up to 6 months, which I think is quite impressive considering the stuff it purports to do), but neither is it self-recharging, so half-yearly battery replacements will be necessary if you choose to get this watch.

Lastly, the R450 is waterproof up to 30m, so basically having it with you 24/7, in the shower and while you swim, will be no issue. The only advice given is to try as much as possible to avoid pressing the device's buttons while underwater.

The LifeTrak Brite R450 is now available for S$179 at Axtro Sports, Challenger, Courts and Perfect Watch at Sim Lim Square. As I type, a test unit is on its way over, so stay tuned for the full review!


Friday, October 24, 2014

Let your ears be loved with Sennheiser Urbanite

Following a successful run (I think, certainly looks so at the surface but I haven't been following that closely) with their Momentum series of stylish headphones, Sennheiser looks to capture the increasingly discerning youth market (read: #richkidsofsingapore) by following up with the Urbanite range of street-friendly headphones.

As with the Momentum series, the series consists of two main models - an on-ear version and an over-ear version. Each model then has removable remote control cables (1.2m) suited to either Apple or Android devices. These cables will also be available separately, shortly after the range's availability date of 28 October 2014, along with a universal version with slider-controlled volume (ie. analog, not electronic).

Unlike the Momentum series, which is predominantly dressed in leather, the Urbanite range sports denim and canvas fabrics, complemented with highly flexible and durable stainless steel and aluminum parts to travel with you all day. And what's a fashion-oriented line of products without a range of colors? The Urbanite XL (top) and Urbanite (below) don't exactly come in bright, eye-shredding shades, but its options will quite easily coordinate with your wardrobe (this coming from a self-professed fashion dunce, so if you can't even manage to complement light and dark against each other properly then just get yourself the black model and be done with it). It must be mentioned that the earpads are made of velvety material, which makes for a very comfortable rest, but absorbs sweat like a sponge. I foresee this may will cause some awkward moments in the longer run.

Ok, first impressions of the audio quality. I used to shy away from products claiming "extra bass", because no matter how marketing spins it, the sound almost always ends up muddier than a Muk after it's had a dip in the Ganges. I was very pleased, therefore, to note that Sennheiser has not sacrificed its legacy of pristine audio in favor of style. While I unfortunately neglected to check if the drivers for both products were different, the XL/over-ear version definitely provided accurate, tight bass lines, whether you are listening to defined beats in techno or rock, or wider, further-reaching rumbles and pulses in musicals and classical music. Mids are richly defined, and highs rarely, if ever, turn exceedingly sharp. With a smaller circumference, the Urbanite/on-ear version pipied out a more concentrated projection of sound. For me, this seemed to bring about a more packed-in bass that didn't resonate as well as that of the XL. Similarly, while its high-fidelity was quite apparent, the mids and bass felt like commuters jostling onto an already crowded train platform during peak hour, unable to reach their full aural potential. Fellow bloggers who attended the event with me opined otherwise though, so as I always recommend to anyone who asks me about audio, that's my opinion, but try it out for yourself to be sure. I can give you my point of view but I can never hear on your behalf.

The Urbanite (on-ear) will retail for S$269, and the Urbanite XL (over-ear) will retail for S$339. They will be available from 28 October 2014 onwards at the Sennheiser Concept Store at Marina Square (try it out here!) and authorised retailers.

With the range's focus on street style, Sennheiser in Singapore has partnered with "a local independent, multi-label company", SUP Clothing at Haji Lane (I mean, where else right?), to launch the line, by identifying and engaging with fashion-forward people, who will receive the chance to win fully styled outfits along with Urbanite headphones.