Get On Trac: Puma launches new running app

puma-pumtrac-iphone-app

Do you reckon you run faster on a sunny day? Or that Iron Maiden will always be champions of the definitive early morning run soundtrack? Perhaps you believe you’re at your physical peak during a full moon?

Well it’s time to put these theories to the test with Puma’s new free iPhone app Pumatrac. Thankfully, it’s a hell of a lot more useful than the brand’s previous app Puma Social. Launched almost exactly a year ago, Puma Social was a tool to help grease the wheels of post-game camaraderie, eschewing the brand’s more wholesome virtues in favour of booze-soaked social bandwagon jumpery. Yawn.

Mercifully Pumatrac sees the company go back to what they know best; sports. Running to be precise. And they’ve come up trumps. Like all running apps, the main premise is a training tool that tracks your distance, route and speed. However, here’s the interesting twist; it also takes other elements into account such as your soundtrack (as long as you’re listening to music from the same smart device) the weather, the altitude, the time, the season and even the moon cycle.

Sound gimmicky? Maybe a tiny bit, but they’ve utilised the functionality really well; all these additional elements and conditions are taken into account to provide you with new running stats other apps can’t give you. Such as which soundtrack helps you reach your top speeds. Or the days of the week you execute your best run. And yes, whether you’re at your physical peak best during full moon or not.

The idea is to help inspire you on those all-too-common rainy days when running seems like a bigger chore than doing your tax returns while doing the post Sunday roast dishes and the weekly ironing. As time goes by the app will learn your personal preferences and suggest training sessions that actually suit the conditions. Who knows? Perhaps you actually run faster and train more efficiently in the rain. In this sense it’s the app that keeps on giving; rather than spitting out the same old stats, it constantly evolves, providing you with insights about your training as you run through different seasons, times of the day and playlists.

Check out this promotional video from Puma which shows the product in a little more detail:

Egging you on with notifications that are cheery but not cheesy, it’s user-friendly and fully socialised. There’s also a neat option of adopting new running routes saved by other Pumatrac users. And, of course, a chance to shout about your stats on all the popular social platforms. Released just a week after Adidas and Nokia announced their forthcoming, intuitive miCoach app, it seems sports brands are rebooting their smart device presence with some really interesting solutions. It’s about time.

Magellan Echo Running Watch: GPS + Bluetooth Join Forces

Magellan-Echo

Magellan are GPS experts so it’s nice to see that they have finally joined the smart running watch race. But rather than show up late to the party with your arms swinging (a lovely Nigerian expression for when you don’t bring any food or drink to a party), Magellan have a neat, and potentially game changing party trick – Bluetooth Smart connectivity.

Magellan have acknowledge the dominance of smartphones in the current tech landscape – I now sort of automatically expect any device I have to play nicely with my smartphones. This is especially useful when I’m doing something like running and don’t want to be distracted by fiddling with buttons in my pocket. Via the Echo you gain playback control over your music, and can input start, stop or lap controls – handy if you want to take a quick breather or if New Edition starts playing and you’re not in a New Jack Swing mood.

Echo-Running-Man

In what I consider to be a nice touch, the Echo wirelessly connects smartphone fitness apps like Strava, MapMyRun, Runtastic and RunKeeper to your wrist rather than making you upload utilise a bespoke app and related ecosystem. The data is displayed in real time and leverages the Wahoo API found in things like the RFLKT.

Echo-Water

If you’re a hardened running pro, you’ll be pleased to know that the Echo is just as tough as you and has a ruggedized, water-resistant design giving you no excuses not to fight your way through damp running conditions (other than “it’s cold and I don’t want to”, which is what normally stops me).

Magellan opted for a replaceable battery to avoid charging issues. I have a USB-powered sports watch that is sitting in need of a charge by the side of my bed so I can see the wisdom in this decision – but I do like the general idea of rechargeable batteries from an environmental perspective at least.

The exact UK release date is unknown but should be some time towards the end of this year. What is know is that the Echo will be out in three colours – Black, Cool Blue or Warm Red. US pricing is $149.99 or $199.99 with a Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Monitor.

Top 5 Running Gadgets

Scosche-Rthm

It’s that time of year again. The sun is beginning to shine, the days are getting longer and everyone is proudly plastering social media channels with details on precisely how many miles they’ve run. But wait; there’s plenty more potential to running gadgets than showing off the distance you’ve wheezed your way around the local park. Plenty more. Latest Gadgets rounds up five of the best…

Scosche Rhythm

From: Scosche

Like to keep your finger on the pulse? Enjoy running? Then look no further… Scosche have just launched their simple Rhythm strap which, with the help of your smart phone, can provide all your essential pulse data, and plenty more.

Designed with simplicity in mind, the three button gadget straps onto your forearm and communicates to your smart device via Bluetooth. Not only does it record your pulse via integrated dual LED sensors, allowing you to closely monitor just how hard you’re pushing yourself, Rhythm also provides complete control of your music collection as well as generating other essential stats such as distance covered and calories burned.

It’s also compatible with myriad existing running apps such as iPower, Spinning, RunDouble C25K and many more. And yes, thanks to its social network flexibility, you can join the masses and tell the world just how good a runner you truly are.

Yours for $99.99

Running World: Zone Dome

From: Running World

For those who can’t rely on reasonable seasonable climes, Running World’s somewhat aspirational Zone Dome can whisk you away to a variety of desirable running locations in the world and you don’t even have to leave your home. As featured on Latest Gadgets in March, the 1.5 metre screen is compatible with most treadmills and offers the choice of 20 or 40 minute runs at speeds between 9-12 km/h.

With a choice of five lavish scenery settings, you can take your pick from Route 66 to Area 51 without a fear of rain, traffic, pollution or runner-hating neer-do-wells lurking around any corner. Providing you have your own treadmill and can honour the £3,940 price tag, the Zone Dome is ideal for running regardless of the unpredictable weather. File under luxury: there’s no surprise Zone Dome’s manufacturers are targeting the gym chains with this cinematic running gadget.

Yours for £3490

Misfit-Shine

Misfit Shine

Misfit Wearables

Looking like some sexy pendant or broach from the future, Misfit’s Shine is similar to Scosche’s Rhythm (and indeed a whole host of competing wrist-based running gadgets such as the Nike FuelBand, The Runalyser and the Fitbit One). What the Shine does that most other arm-based running gadgets do is look very cool.

Looking further afield than the standard rubber or plastic models, Shine is manufactured using hard-wearing but super-lightweight aluminium. With a smooth spherical finish and minimal controls (in fact none: Bluetooth all the way, baby) the Shine will be just at home hanging from your neck or sitting sweetly in your pocket.

Okay, so it looks great. What else does it do? Well it tracks every move you make and the ground you cover ensuring favour from all forms of exercise fans from runners to cyclists. Soon-to-be-launched over the States at $99, Shine has potential to impact the ever-growing exercise market.

Yours for $99

Swimming-Sports-Watch

TomTom GPS Sports Watches

From: TomTom

Satnav kings TomTom are no strangers to the running world, having worked closely with Nike on their sports watch ranges. Now sprinting into the market with their own unit, TomTom are taking things next level.

With a clear, simple-to-read high contrast display, one-button functionality, a whole range of training programs and built-in stride sensors, few activities can go un-checked by the TomTom Sports Watch. Naturally, GPS comes as standard and allows for upwards of 10 hours battery life. Impressed? Jog on over to Latest Gadget’s full review.

MileStone-Pod

Milestone Pod

From: Milestone

It’s all good and well knowing how far you’ve run, what your pulse is saying, how many calories you’ve burnt and just how many people you can tell about your achievements. But let’s not forget the most important ingredient in running… Your feet!

Appropriate footwear is essential for running. But once you’ve made that investment, how much lifespan do they have? The most common rule of thumb is approximately 400 miles. But unless you’re tracking that via some of the other gadgets in this list, how do you know when your trainers need a reboot? Change them too soon and you’ll waste valuable tread. Change them too late and you’ve got a one-way ticket to Injury Town.

Enter the Milestone Pod, a thumb-sized pedometer that attaches to your laces and records how much life is left in your faithful daps. What’s more, you can also save easily accessible essential personal data such as medical history and emergency contact details in case you suffer from an accident while out training. Launched as a Kickstarter project earlier this year, they failed to hit their target of $60,000 but they’re continuing their product roll-out with determination. See their website for details.

TomTom GPS Sports Watches: Exercise and Technology – the Perfect Fit?

TomTom-GPS-Sports-Watch

I’m more active that you might expect for someone who edits a gadget website and spends all day and I love any chance I get to combine exercise and technology. I’ve tried many a pedometer the FitBit One being a current favourite) and I love my Withings wireless scales. But one of the coolest fitness I’ve used was the Nike Sportswatch powered by TomTom. So I was interested to hear that TomTom was coming out with a new product that “completely re-designs the GPS Sport Watch.”

TomTom-Running-Man

The new, ultra-slim (11.5 mm) TomTom Runner and TomTom Multi-Sport GPS sport watches feature an extra-large,high-resolution and high-contrast display, full-screen graphical training tools and the headline feature one-button control so it’s easy to access information without slowing down.

Swimming-Sports-Watch

“We know that most GPS watches on the market are too bulky and complicated to use while training. Runners and multi-sport athletes can now view their performance information at-a-glance, making it easier to achieve their fitness goals.”
Corinne Vigreux, managing director, TomTom Consumer.

GPS-Woman-Running

The new watches feature TomTom’s Graphical Training Partner – basically easy-to-read full-screen graphics so you can optimise your workouts with access to relevant information. There are graphical training modes: Run, Goal and Zone. The one button controls are great for navigating key stats (and also just for controlling your watch), especially when running, swimming or cycling (I hate fiddling with buttons in the rain or through cycling gloves). TomTom claim you can use the battery for up to 10 hours in GPS mode which is more than fine for my stamina levels.

TomTom-Cycling

Another great feature is the ability to accurately track indoor runs using built-in sensors to count strides, so your treadmill runs aren’t “lost”. Rather than locking your data down to a proprietary platform you can sync, analyse and share stats on popular running sites and community platforms, including the TomTom MySports website, MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, TrainingPeaks and MyFitnessPal. Long-lasting battery: Up to 10-hour battery life (GPS Mode)

The TomTom Runner and TomTom Multi-Sport will be available in Summer 2013. For more information head to TomTom.

Zone Dome: Get Off the Beaten Track

RunZone

If you’re one of the UK’s 5 million recreational runners and are looking for something to add a bit of sparkle to a mundane slog on the treadmill, perhaps a trip through to rolling grasslands of Mongolia’s Himalayan foothills will give you that extra motivation to push on.

Thanks to the Zone Dome, the latest marriage between fitness and technology and product of self-confessed health and fitness veterans Running Unlimited, you can leave the insect repellent in the cupboard and become immersed in some of the world’s most inspiring locations from the comfort of your home or a local gym. The free-standing, 1.5 metre wide display shows one of five supplied themes that include Monument Valley, Route 66, Humphrey’s Peak, Dawn at Joshua Tree and even Area 51, though you didn’t hear that from us.

Able to select 20 or 40 minute runs at speeds of between 9 and 12 km/h, the Zone Dome is compatible with any treadmill and is aimed at gyms and hotels as well as luxury domestic use. Though unfortunately there’s no audio, we certainly like the idea of being able to run past elephants, giraffes and hyenas in Tanzania’s Serengeti, or trawl the rock-strewn landscapes of Monument Valley, but you might want to start saving the pennies if you’re planning to buy one for the home.

The Zone Dome costs £3,940 for the unit and five supplied destinations, with additional five-film bundles available to purchase as add-ons for £500. However, Running Unlimited says the Zone Dome could be “coming to a gym near you soon” and is currently in negotiations with a range of facilities across the UK, so if you’re not willing to shell out for a unit for the home just yet why not have a word with the manager on your next trip to Fitness First.

For more information and some pretty breathtaking landscapes visit Running Unlimited

FitBit One and FitBit Zip: Taking the slog out of logging

Fitbit-walking

Keeping in shape is hard work and technology has always been around to ease the transition from amorphous blob into chiseled Greek statue.

Unfortunately people are lazy and when you’ve already put so much effort into actually heading to the gym/jogging/pumping iron the last thing you want to do is be carefully noting what you’ve done in a little book or logging routines in an app. I’ve tried countless innovations in search of the body beautiful and I’ve given up on almost all of them. The perfect system it seems, should do all the work for me, leaving me with as little to do as possible.

Enter the Fitbit’s wireless activity trackers – the Fitbit Zip and the Fitbit One. I looked at the Fitbit Ultra system about 9 months ago and it’s nice to see a company take a great concept and continually refine it.

Fitbit-Zip

Fitbits are little trackers you clip to a belt, bra or waistband as you go about your day to day. Unlike tracking systems I’ve used, the Fitbits have really nailed the ease of use aspect of activity monitoring. They come with little USB dongles you can plug into the your laptop and they will automatically sync with your PC. More excitingly Fitbits work in the Post-PC era and utilise BlueTooth Smart to sync with your smartphone for real time progress updates. This is a particularly handy feature as the days of plugging things into to sync data are really numbered and these sorts of background automation systems are a nice glimpse of the future (the Witings wireless scales are another gadget that implements this sort of background updating, app-enhanced monitoring really well).

The Fitbit Zip is a small pound coin sized tracker that comes with a silicon clip and is available in magenta, lime, blue, charcoal and white. It’s charged off a small battery that should last for about 6 months. You can cycle through data by tapping the display or check on your app which should have all the same info about steps taken, distance travelled and calories burned instantly uploaded.

FitBit-One

If you want a tiny bit more info in your life there’s the FitBit One which measures steps taken, distance travelled, calories burned and stairs climbed, and also monitors how long and how well you sleep. The Fitbit One has a Silent Wake alarm that gently vibrates when worn on the wrist to wake the person up without waking their sleep partner.

FitBit Zip will cost £49.99 and will be available to purchase from Apple stores and other major retailers and direct from Fitbit from 1 October.

Fitbit One will cost £79.99 and will be available in major retailers such as Amazon, John Lewis, Carphone Warehouse and Firebox and direct from Fitbit from 22 October.

AblePlanet’s Clear Harmony Sport Earphone SP1150 review

The loneliness of the long-distance runner is something I’m intimately familar with (And the middle distance runner. And the short distace runner. And when sprinting for the bus. Basically I’m very lonely). I not a big fan of running in the best of circumstances but I **hate** running when I’ve left my headphones behind. The endless monotony of the task in hand (especially on a treadmill) is borderline unbearable. But not all headphones are up to the task of keeping me entertained why I try to jog myself thin. Sweat has been know to attack certain headphones of mine. Even worse poor fitting earbuds have been prone to fall out. I should probably mention that I’m an amateur traceur as well so I’m a little more demanding than your average runner, and the last thing I need on a jump is worring about headphones falling out of my ears.

Able-Planet-SP1150

Enter AblePlanet’s Clear Harmony Sport Earphone (the SP1150 to be precise). It’s pretty clear from the moment you lay eyes on them that AblePlanet take their sports earphones pretty seriously. The Clear Harmony has an incredibly well designed earloop that feels more like a hearing aid than an earphone – I mean that as a compliment. The ComfortFit sound isolation tips block exterior sound and create as you’d expect a custom fit. There’s a very secure feeling as it clicks behind your ear and I tried a variety of shakes, wiggles and even a headspin without managing to dislodge them. Much like a telemarketing campaign, that’s a ringing endorsement.

So the sports part is pretty rock solid. How about the earphone side of the equation? Well the SP1150s come loaded with Patented LINX AUDIO®, Hear the Difference® technology, which is “Award-Winning”. In practical terms, this means that they sound pretty fantastic, with full rich bass sounds, clear high tones and intelligible speech (unless of course you have your mumblecore playlist on full blast).

All in all, a thunderingly good pair of earphones.

AblePlanet’s Clear Harmony Sport Earphone SP1150 are yours for $189.99 from AblePlanet.

Nike+ SportWatch GPS: Keeping you on track?

Nike has teamed up with TomTom, one of the world leaders in GPS mapping systems, to provide runners with the ideal digital performance coach. There are specific runner watches already on the market, Polar for instance, has been in exercise technology for years, but Nike does it with style. Large digital numbers and a dark black band with a green/yellow underside screams latest fashion to me.

Nike-TomTom-SportWatch

With just three buttons to worry about plus tap screen navigation, you can capture local information as you run, whilst checking out your time, distance, pace and the number of calories you’ve burned. The GPS receiver also works in tandem with the optional Nike in-shoe accelerometer sensor to provide you with accurate live pace and distance data during the course of your run.

This is a watch with attitude. It will log your run history and give you run reminders if you haven’t logged a run in five days, it’ll give you post run acknowledgement and encouragement and it’ll even monitor your heart rate throughout your exercise.

You’ll also be keeping in touch with fellow Nike runners the world over through the Nike+Connect USB interface which plugs you into Nikeplus.com that has up to now logged over 150 million global runs since its launch in 2006. It’s a useful database of run routes posted by its running community broken down by location, length and difficulty.

At £179 this is serious kit, so go on and break some records. www.nikestore.com