Get more out of your workouts and outdoor adventures with the latest tech. Jenneth Orantia unveils eight new sports gadgets.
Tracking steps is such a common activity these days that it’s surprising there aren’t more “smart shoes” on the market. Under Armour has been making smart shoes for several years now and the HOVR improves on previous versions with its ability to track more advanced metrics – a feature that will appeal to hardcore runners looking to improve their performance. The HOVR is available in low-top and mid-top versions, and while the Bluetooth sensor and memory chip in the shoes require power, Under Amour says the self-contained batteries will outlast the life of the shoes themselves.
Sleep tracking lets you check the length and quality of your snooze sessions. The Nokia Sleep takes this to the next level, bundling a wi-fi-enabled pressure-sensitive pad (which goes under your mattress) with an app that provides all the metrics it collects throughout the night. Integration with the online IFTTT service means you can connect it to other smart gadgets to do things like dim the lights when you lie down, or turn the heater on when you get up. For troubled sleepers, the in-app sleep coaching program provides useful tips on how to snooze better.
Pesky headphone cables are a nuisance when you’re working out, so there’s plenty to like about these fitness-focused Bluetooth earbuds. The handy travel case tops up the battery between listens and the interchangeable tips let you find the perfect fit, plus the design is sweatproof and water-resistant. The RUN is good for four hours of playback, with the case adding a further eight hours. It also offers fast charging in pinch – 5 minutes will get you an hour’s worth of playback.
Fashioned to look more like a smart watch than a fitness tracker, the Versa comes with a spacious 1.34” colour LCD touchscreen, making it easier to check your stats at a glance and access the built-in features. These include waterproofing to 50m, enabling you to track laps in the swimming pool; 15 exercise modes; heart rate and sleep tracking; personalised on-screen workouts; and the ability to store and play music directly from the watch. The only thing it’s really lacking is a GPS, although it’s something it can track if your phone is nearby.
The Fusion turns the GoPro’s widescreen first-person view into immersive 360-degree photos and videos. But you don’t need to be a professional filmmaker to benefit from its impressive features. There’s plenty for advanced users to tinker with, but the mobile app’s OverCapture feature is designed for everyday users, letting you use the 360-degree view to create a standard 2D video where the viewpoint can be adjusted to face any direction. That means you don’t have to frame the shot anymore – simply park the Fusion on its bundled tripod and start filming!
The Megablast is a proper party starter, producing 93 decibels of bass-pumping audio. In addition to its superb sound quality and waterproof enclosure, it’s one of the first Bluetooth speakers with Amazon’s Alexa voice technology built in, so you can interact with it using voice commands. You can tell it to play songs directly from streaming music services like Spotify and Amazon Music, control smart home gadgets and even get it to work as a personal trainer using Alexa Skills.
The FreePlay cuts the cords to give you maximum freedom for your fitness activities. The Bluetooth buds offer three hours of playback, which should be more than enough to get you through your workout, and the bundled battery case tops up the battery between sessions for an additional six hours. It’s more affordable than the competition, making the FreePlay a great option for bargain hunters, although you’ll have to make do with some compromises. The sound quality isn’t as good as some of the more premium headphones, and it lacks a fast-charging option.
The Music adds 4GB of memory for storing music and support for Bluetooth headphones to complete what was a fantastic fitness watch (the Vívoactive 3). Pairing the look of a regular watch with advanced fitness tracking, the Vívoactive 3 Music also has a GPS, heart rate sensor, compass, barometric altimeter, accelerometer and thermometer. It can test your VO2 Max and even monitors your stress levels. And if you’ve left your wallet at home, you can use the Garmin Pay contactless payment feature.