New Balance is dipping its running feet into the GPS tracker market with the RunIQ, a GPS watch with a built-in heart-rate monitor. This $299 watch, due out Feb. 1, also has Intel hardware and connects to Strava's servers to help deliver insightful feedback, as well as connect wearers to a larger community of runners.
The RunIQ watch not only will track your position and heart rate, but provides such features as a lap button and interval training. Perhaps the most useful feature is New Balance's collaboration with Strava, which will let RunIQ wearers share their results with others through the New Balance Run Club. Members will also be able to share routes and participate in virtual group training programs and races. New Balance will also host events through its store locations around the U.S.
The RunIQ watch will also provide smartphone notifications when connected via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi; if you carry an Android phone on your runs, you'll also be able to control music streaming from Google Play music. That's a handy feature, but devices such as the TomTom Spark 3 let you store music on the watch itself, so you can leave your phone at home.
Waterproof to 5 ATM, the RunIQ can last up to 5 hours using GPS and heart-rate monitoring; that's about half of what you get from the Garmin Forerunner 235, as well as the TomTom Spark 3 under similar conditions.
Also launching on Feb. 1 are the PaceIQ Bluetooth headphones, developed by Jabra. These in-ear buds will have a button that, when pressed, will provide stats gathered by the RunIQ watch. It's perhaps easier than having to glance down and look at the watch and scroll through screens to get, say, your heart rate and pace.
The RunIQ watch will cost $299, and come in black with a gray face. The PaceIQ headphones will cost $109, and come with 3 sets of EarGels, a clip and a USB cable.
On its face, the RunIQ watch doesn't have much going for it over more established GPS running watches. However, integration with Strava, as well as New Balance's physical stores and running club, could provide it an advantage for those who need encouragement and competition from others to keep up their training.