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.

Head Sensor BT Runtastic: Getting down on the slopes

I hate going on about how cold it gets in winter. But man alive is it nippy out. And that’s just in my tiny East London cave. Imagine if I was hitting the slopes. A ridiulous image for many, many reasons. If however you are way, way cooler than I am then you may be delighted to know that Runtastic and Head have teamed up to build the world’s first fully integrated helmet in winter sports – The Head Sensor BT Runtastic.

Head-runtastic-Helmet

Head have already won awards for their helmet design and the Head Sensor takes something that’s already great and rams a load of technology into it – something that almost always makes me happy. Head Sensor, the base model for Head’s Sensor BT Runtastic, is the winner of the German ADAC helmet test.

The helmet integrates the Runtastic app, Bluetooth, fully functioning speakers, and a microphone. Obviously you can listen to music, call people, and have lovely back and forths with Siri.

Like most modern things, the helmet is paired with an app, Runtastic’s side of the deal, which provides voice feedback on your speed, altitude, distance covered, route, and average speed, all the while monitoring your heart rate and calorie consumption with the included chest strap heart rate monitor.With way over 14 million downloads, more than five million registered users on runtastic.com, and 300,000 active daily users, Runtastic is one of the most popular fitness app provider available.

Sharing is another key buzzword for modern living and the app enables you to share your stats and experiences on social media platforms. Followers can interact with you by recording a personal message or pressing one of the cheering buttons on runtastic.com to egg you on before a big trick or hardcore run.

Available now

Post Olympic 2012 Blues? Recommended Antidotes

With London 2012 in full swing and even the most stalwart couch potatoes managing to raise a cursory eyebrow at global citizens showcasing their triumphs of physical fitness, it’s all too easy to get immersed in the tidal wave of national spirit, personal endeavour and team success flooding our shores. Our feature earlier this month demonstrated the types of apps and kit building up the hype and cashing in on Olympic fever. But what if you’ve had enough?

Bored-of-the-Rings

You may have seen the torch relay, switched on the opening ceremony, marvelled at Wiggins’ sideburns and pondered the engineering feat that is those tiny pants sported by Tom Daley and his plunge-pool pals. But total immersion isn’t good for anybody, so let’s make a stand to remedy at least the worst symptoms of Olympic fever.

1 Take flight

The European Commission, British Airways and Easyjet have all released new apps perhaps in a bid to redress the one-way traffic into the country!  EasyJet’s optimises the site for the mobile platform, the European Commission provides mobile access to cancellation and lost luggage systems and BA‘s Perfect Day travel app lets you create and share personalised travel guides.

2 The Sky’s the limit

If you live with a newly-converted sports fanatic who’s hogging the telly, make sure they don’t monopolise your digital recorder too! This app turns your iPad into a remote control so you can set all the programmes you’re missing to record, sneakily browse the electronic programme guide or even do a covert “audit” of everything the machine has been programmed to save

3 Wackier races

While your mates may be going on about the boxing and taekwando, here’s a new battle gadget that will keep you occupied long after summer’s gone. And give you something more original to distract you at your office desk. Carbot is a dinky remote-controlled motor you drive via the screen of your smartphone

DeskPets

4 iPhone holiday

Give your iPhone a shock and take it to the beach rather than the city one weekend. This smart “lifeproof” case means you can protect your precious smartphone while you rediscover your sea-legs after weeks sat down watching the sport

Lifeproof

5. Brighter prospects

Used up all your holiday leave following the action? Well at least you can brighten up your return to work and raise office activity levels with the Behance motion lamp. This flexible light source will perform enough gymnastics to ease any withdrawal symptoms you may be suffering.

Motion Lamp

6. If you can’t beat them, join them!

If you insist on joining the masses in a global fitness regime, you might as well save the planet at the same time! It may not be packed with the latest in cycle engineering, but this unique cardboard bike does the business while reminding you that you don’t need to secure a glossy sponsorship before you start exercising.

The Red Ferret Journal

So there you have it. A simple recipe to redress the balance and take your sports obsession down to at least a manageable level. London 2012 is proving to be a world-class event. But let’s future-proof the rest of our summer before the Games really take over our lives!

GoKart launches ‘psychic’ electric golf trolley

The electric golf trolley used to be a sign of advancing years. It was the signal to everyone else that your days of lugging a golf bag over your shoulder or pushing a trolley uphill are now over thank you very much. It is that time when you are on, what many people term, as the ‘back nine of life.’

Go-Kart-Trolley

Fortunately, technology has helped to remove the stigma of advancing age because practically anything that will let you post a better score will be devoured by everyone regardless of their age.

So electric trolleys are now cool and trendy. The only problem is they’re often bulky and have a mind of their own, frequently going off in all directions because you forgot to turn them off when you stopped. GoKart have put paid to all that nonsense with a new device that by simply gripping the handle it will trundle along beside you matching your walking speed until you grip it again when you want to stop.

The GoKart’s fold away lightweight design means it’s also one of the easiest trolleys to manage on the market and the designers Chris and Joe Catford should know; after all they were the original inventors of PowaKaddy the most popular electric trolley in golf. As Chris says of GoKart ““There are no complicated latches, connections or fittings and people really seem to like that so we thought the best way to improve on our success was to make it even easier. Now people don’t have to worry about adjusting the speed to exactly match theirs, it happens automatically”.

The standard battery comes with an 18 hole lifespan although there are 36 hole and lithium batteries for an even longer life span available as options too.

So, with a psychic ultra light trolley at your side, you’ll have no excuses for pleading exhaustion as the reason for yet another dismal round. The GoKart Automatic  is available for  £284

www.gokart.co.uk.

Nike+ SportWatch GPS Powered by TomTom review

For the second time this year, a PR company contacted me and said “fancy loosing some weight? Try this out!” I’d be outraged but both times there was a doughnut to my immediate left, waiting to be eaten. The first was the Philips DirectLife Monitor – an odd pedometer thing that tracks your movement throughout the day and then chastises you for sitting in a chair all day typing. The second is the Nike TomTom GPS sports watch, which demands even more effort from you – you actually have to run.

For a sports product the Nike watch is incredibly cool looking. I’d happily wear it just as a regular cool looking retro watch. The funky black and neon green design, large font display and big chunky buttons are hip enough to walk around the hippest parts of East London without ostracism and the Nike Swoosh is tastefully downplayed. For someone who’s spent ages staring at this timepiece with longing, it’s a lovely piece of kit. I know it’s a functional item, but a watch is something you spend a good deal of time wearing so it’s important that it

But what about running? The watch works with GPS and a Nike+ shoe sensor to record distance, pace, elapsed time, BPM (if you buy the heart rate monitor), and calories burned while running. You simply hit the green button and get going. Well if you have a Nike+ shoe sensor. If you try GPS only it seems to take a little longer to connect. On occasion it took minutes to link to the satellite, which was a little frustrating but as Louis CK says “it’s going to space! Give it a second!” As you run, you can use the scroll button to toggle through your distance, pace, elapsed time, calories or time of day. You can slap the screen – either to illuminate the watch or to log laps/intervals. At the end of the run you get an “Attaboy” encouraging remark and if you haven’t run for a while the watch will remind you – both of which are pretty cute.

To set the watch up you’ll need to download some special Nike+ software, that thankfully runs on Macs and PCs. I had to do a bit of Googling to get the right version of the Mac software but accord to forums this is a “known issue” and should be rectified soon. The USB connector is built into the end of the watch strap – which is relentlessly badass – and the software allows you to update the watch settings – leaving the onboard interface as simple as possible. When I first heard of a TomTom GPS enables watch I assumed it would have some sort of map built in on the screen. However this is not the case – the watch knows where I am, it just refuses to tell me (what a jackass!) unless I log into the Nike running community which allows me to explore routes and compare with other runners in my area.

At £176 this is far from cheap and certainly is no toy. And you can get lots of these features built into any smartphone capable of using RunKeeper. However, it is an excellent watch, with a cool design, innovative functionality and incredibly simple to use. If you’re serious about your running I’d definitely give it some careful consideration.

Eurosport’s iPhone app

Eurosport’s iPhone app has just broken the three million downloads mark. There are plenty of other spots apps, so what is it that crowds rush to download the app from Europe’s most popular sport channel?  We’ve played with the newest update to find out – and it’s certainly a competitive offering.

The new incarnation has been tweaked to improve performance – especially on loading Eurosport.com – the hub of sports knowledge. It also comes with some pretty standard sports-app features: live results, news, standings and fixtures.

Eurosport

There are two elements that make the new app a match-winner, however. The first is real-time text commentary. Like the updates found on SkySports or the BBC’s website, descriptions of the match’s action will appear on-screen as they’re updated. It’s perfect for poor 3G areas, keeping up-to-date at weddings and letting other people watch TV on a Saturday for a change.

The other major feature is real-time chat of talking points, letting users reproduce the sports pub environment from the safety of their iPhone. Due to the chat-room nature of this, expect more swearing, but less glass attacks than a real pub. Both features really bring home the immediacy of sport – it’s happening now, and it’s being transferred to you live via Eurospot’s app.

Of course, you don’t want to be glued to one app the whole time you’re on your phone, which is why the newest version of the app included goal alerts for your favourite team. We couldn’t test it, but we’re pretty sure every goal scored by your favourite football team, or try in Rugby, can push an alert to keep you up-to-date whether you’re sending a text or playing another game.

Of course, the popularity could be down to the nine different languages it’s available in, meaning there are plenty of European audiences for it to pick up on.

While Eurospot is a competent app, we’re looking to the future for the really exciting stuff. According to our sources, there’ll be a live streaming version for the iPad next year, bring all the action to the biggest portable screen around. We’ll keep you updated.

Jabra CHILL, RHYTHM and ACTIVE – cheap and cheerful choice

With the seemingly unstoppable popularity of multimedia phones, the demand for listening to different forms of sound such as music, phone calls, podcasts and audio books, has never been so intense. Fumbling around with ‘hands free’ kits, struggling to jog with headphones that keep falling out, and trying to talk above a muffled interference as we chat with earphones on, does not do the pinpoint quality and technological perfection of our iPhones and other smartphones any justice whatsoever.

GN Netcom, world leaders in producing pioneering and creative solutions to our many headset niggles, created a series of products designed in bringing quality, comfort and style to the corded headphone market.
Jabra’s three latest editions the Jabra CHILL, RHYTHM and ACTIVE claim to be able to meet the demands of users in the most diverse of situations, whilst retaining the quality, comfort and design multimedia smartphones are becoming increasingly synonymous with.

Jabra-headphones

Jabra CHILL
Its name ‘Chill’ is actually an unfair depiction of these headphones, because they are designed for being on the go. By using Jabra Ultimate-fit Eargels, a Jabra CHILL headset is designed to endure the most forceful of movements and will not fall out of your ear. Unlike most headphones, the Jabra CHILL will stay comfortably and securely sitting in your ear regardless of how strenuous or passive your activity, whilst seamlessly connecting to your smartphone, enabling you to listen to quality sounding music or phone calls whilst being on the go.

Jabra ACTIVE
Do you ever get the urge to run faster when you are listening to music? If so than the Jabra ACTIVE may be the headphones you need to train with a renewed vigour in order to smash those personal bests. Essentially Jabra ACTIVE utilizes the same technology as the CHILL, including Jabra Active Eargels, ensuring sportsmen and women are not plagued by the distraction of fiddling with their earphones whilst training. Being waterproof, sweat and water will not hinder an athlete’s performance the way other headphones can.

Jabra RHYTHM
‘Stylish’ and ‘headsets’ are not usually connected. Determined to challenge the headsets-equal-unattractiveness association, Jabra have launched the RHYTHM, which not fit comfortably into the ears, but look stylish too. This new stereo headset uses noise isolating ear buds and microphone wind-noise reduction technology and in doing so produces crisp and clear sound, enabling users to privately jive along to their favourite tunes whilst never failing to answer a phone call.

In addition you can kiss goodbye to having to fumble with your iPhone to skip tracks, turn the volume up or answer calls, as all three of Jabra’s latest headsets come equipped with a control box, permitting for more effortless control whilst being on the move.

The Jabra CHILL and RHYTHM are currently available at selected retail stores for a suggested retail price of £19.99 and £24.99 respectively.

Com-putter science: GPS golf caddies

Imagine for a moment that you are faced with a dilemma. You are in the middle of the fairway having just nailed a drive and your second shot is crucial. It’s about 173 yards to the green but It’s over water and you’re just not sure what the carry is.
There was a time when you just had to hit and hope, after all, most of the time you don’t have the luxury of a caddie who’ll give you the right advice.

Or do you?

These days help is at hand, because now you can ask your friendly GPS caddie and the good news is that their use has been passed as legal by the R&A. GPS caddies take advantage of portable satellite navigation and course mapping, to give golfers a scientific edge, and more importantly, the confidence to take a shot, knowing exactly the distance to your target and any potential hazards you might face.

GPS Golf Caddies

So with a variety of products on the market, what are the features you’ll really need, and the ones you’ll rarely need?

1. Clearly the most important feature you’ll need, is to ensure that your chosen unit has the courses you need mapped and available to download.

2. Many devices use fly over or Google mapping technology instead of custom ground mapping. This can mean that the course distance accuracy can vary, so low handicappers may prefer to use only ground mapped technology.

3. Make sure the unit shows the length to the front, centre and back of the green and is manually adjustable to also show the yardage from all parts of the course. After all, you never know where you might end up!

4. Be aware, that some units have annual membership fees attached to their downloads and in some cases there are different prices between your home country and the rest of the world. So take this into consideration when looking at the purchase prices of units – a cheaper model might have additional costs attached which make it more expensive in the end.

Recommended GPS Caddies

Sky Caddie SGX £299
One of the most popular and respected brands on the market, this model offers up to 30,000 ground mapped courses pre loaded for out of the box functionality. The large colour screen shows distances to hazards and carries for each hole, although these are only shown graphically on some courses, for others you’ll have to make do with text only. Whilst SkyCaddie’s mapping is second to none, I did find the small directional mouse nozzle quite fiddly and sensitive.

SonoCaddie V350 Plus £289
Hot on the heels of Sky Caddie, this device has over 2,200 UK courses already pre loaded but they are all based on Google mapping. There is a lifetime subscription fee of £25 for downloading unlimited courses overseas however. It is packed with functions such as an electronic score card, a shot analyser where you can keep track of all the actual distances you hit your shots, and a round replay if you like watching horror films!

Shot Miser G500 £279
This device uses Snooper software which means that you can also use it as a sat nav device in the car, and it does come bundled with a cradle just for that purpose.Whilst the Shotmiser uses flyover technology for the mapping, it is one of the most accurate devices I’ve used. It also allows you to check distances to trees and traps or lakes simply by using a tee to drag the cursor over to the hazard from your current position. Whilst I can’t fault the LCD colour display, the cost of downloading courses at £5 each is going to be very prohibitive.