Fitness and Health Gadgets: Tracking your Life

Switch2Health REPLAY Activity Bracelet

The $20 REPLAY turns exercising into a game with rewards. The monitor comes in a soft blue silicon band (bands come in a choice of colors for $2.99) you wear like a watch. It does have date and time screens but mostly you'll leave it on the activity coach screen, which turns into a smiley face if you've been active and a frowning face if you've been sitting around for a while. Every time it records three minutes worth of suitably active movement it fills in segment of an activity bar (each bar takes 15 minutes of activity). Fill all four and you get a code you can type into the S2H Web site to get 60 points you can towards a variety of rewards.

The REPLAY is a little too simple, but it’s a cheap and cheerful exercise reminder.

The REPLAY is a little too simple, but it’s a cheap and cheerful exercise reminder.

It's very easy to use; you don't have to charge it or connect it to your computer (in fact you can't charge it -Switch2Health says that the battery isn't replaceable so when it runs out after 18 months you'll need to buy a new REPLAY). All you do is put it on, press the button to cycle between the date, time, activity emoticon and activity record - and be active. To avoid hackers just generating all the possible codes, you have to 'activate' your REPLAY by typing in the serial number before the manual, although it will still record activity before you do that.

The main problem with the REPLAY bracelet is that the accelerometer isn't that good at distinguishing between whole body activity that's good exercise and just moving your arm around; walking two miles at a reasonable pace didn't keep the activity coach smiling all the time (the site does warn you that walking doesn't have enough arm movement to get measured) - and knitting did (lots of hand movements but it’s not much exercise).

You don't get details of when you were most active or charts to look at. However, Switch2Health is planning a pedometer version called the STEP, and they plan on letting you accumulate rewards using measurements from other tracking devices, too. You do get rewards ranging from a free ringtone to discounts at online and retail stores like Napster and Sears. You can even get enough points to get a free Nintendo Wii.

The range of Switch2health rewards; not wide but still worthwhile.

The range of Switch2health rewards; not wide but still worthwhile.

REPLAY is a cheap and cheerful option for reminding you to be more active. While the measurement isn’t necessarily accurate, the emoticons are a very immediate reminder when you haven't been moving around (more so than a chart you won't see until you're slumped in front of a computer) and the promise of reward points is a great incentive to be a bit more active throughout the day.