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Pivotal Tracker 1 Review

For $12 a year, the Pivotal Tracker 1 and its companion app let you track your activity easily, but it suffers from bugs and short battery life.

Our Verdict

For $12 a year, the Pivotal Tracker 1 and its companion app let you track your activity easily, but it suffers from bugs and short battery life.

For

  • Clean, attractive app
  • Comfortable design
  • Inexpensive subscription model

Against

  • Glitch causes device to reset randomly
  • Cannot input exercises or diet
  • Short battery life

How long will it take you to forget about that fitness tracker you just bought? One week, one month, one year? Pivotal Living is banking on the idea that cheap yearly payments will keep you thinking about its service and your fitness. Its first device, the Pivotal Tracker 1, is free, but in order to use its accompanying app, you’ll have to pony up $12 per year. Pivotal’s subscription model is a first in the increasingly crowded health-tech market, but it doesn’t come without some drawbacks. 

Design

While the Pivotal Tracker 1’s all-black band and sleek OLED display aren't flashy, it looks subtly high end compared with other inexpensive trackers. The design resembles the Microsoft Band, but it's infinitely more comfortable, thanks to a more flexible wristband.

Next to the display is a button that you press to scroll through time, steps, distance, calories and your daily goal percentage. Underneath the display is where you attach the battery charger, which you then plug into a USB port to juice up the band.

MORE: Best Fitness Trackers

Similar to the Jawbone Up Move, the Tracker 1 is water-resistant, sweat-proof and rainproof, but don't go swimming with this device. 

Subscription Model

The Pivotal Tracker 1's $12 price gives you the wristband and a one-year membership to the Pivotal Living app. The app is where you sync your tracker's data and track everything — from steps, distance calories and sleep — to weight, hydration and personal goals.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Photo Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide)

During your year of membership, you will receive app updates for free. In addition, each year Pivotal Living will also upgrade the wristband itself — whether it's an entirely new band or another type of hardware upgrade — and members will have the option to receive a free "device refresh" when they renew their subscription. This would not include "premium products" that the company could make that would be available outside the subscription service.

If you decide you don't want to renew and pay another $12, you can keep the Tracker 1 at no extra cost. The catch is that you will not have access to the Pivotal Living app, which requires an account login to use.

Setup

To get started, pair with the Tracker 1 by downloading the Pivotal Living app for iOS or Android. You’ll then have to sign up for a subscription, which unfortunately you can’t do from the app itself.

MORE: Fitness Tracker Buying Guide

Open the app and it will automatically search for your band; if it doesn't see it right away, press the display's side button to wake the screen. Once the band is paired, you'll be asked to create an account by inputting your age, weight and height.

App

Pivotal Living's app for the Tracker 1 rivals the likes of Jawbone's Up app in beauty. Using friendly pastel colors and simple shapes over a white background, the app's home page shows you a calendar bar with the current day and your past days of activity. Below is a group of multicolored circles, one each for Sleep, Hydration, Activity, Steps, Weight and Calories. When you sync your band, these circles update to show you your current scores for the day.

Tap on any of the circles to open up a comprehensive page of data. Steps shows you a bar graph of the times of day you moved the most, and scrolling down shows you your weekly step average, personal step average and personal distance average. If you have friends who use the Pivotal Tracker 1, you'll also see collective friends' stats on these pages. 

There's a line on the home page in the middle of all your data labeled Band, which shows you the battery life of the Tracker 1. If you tap on it, it will bring you to a list of band settings. This is where you can set your Wake-Up Alarm, Activity Reminder and Steps Goal.

MORE: 15 Best Fitness Apps

Turn on the Activity Reminder to have the band vibrate when you've been sedentary for more than 10 minutes. While you can set the times of day and days of the week that you want the activity reminder on, you cannot change the interval. I found the notification useful, but when I'm at work I sometimes find it hard to get up and move every 10 minutes.

At the bottom of the home page you can switch between your dashboard, your network of friends and teams, and your profile. In addition to adding a personal photo and location, your profile page is where you can edit goals at any time.

Performance

After using the Pivotal Tracker 1 for nearly a week, I found it tracked my steps, calories and sleep accurately. The app made my data easy to understand and absorb at a glance, and I loved the graphs that broke down my steps, activity and sleep by time of day. The only thing I wish I could do is track specific exercises and meals in the app. That data would provide a more complete picture of my overall health.

Also, I experienced a recurring problem: The Tracker 1 kept resetting on me. The band vibrated quickly, the clock reset to zero and all of my data disappeared from the band. The data I had already synced, however, remained safely in the app. Pivotal Living is aware of this problem and it’s working to fix it, but as of the time of this review, the issue had not been resolved.

Sleep Mode

The Pivotal Tracker 1 measures your sleep quality and sleep time and syncs it to the app. Here you'll find a line graph showing you how well you slept during certain hours of the night, in addition to how many times you woke up. I appreciate the layout of sleep data in the app — all of it is in a calming blue color, and all of the stats and graphs are easy to absorb.

You can also set a wake-up alarm and customize it to only go off on certain days of the week. I set my weekday wake-up alarm to 6 a.m., and the band woke me up with strong, pulsing vibrations. I double-pressed the button to return the band to step mode.

I do wish the Tracker 1 could go into sleep mode automatically, however, like the Misfit Flash can. You have to double-press the button to enter and exit sleep mode, and I did forget to exit a few times when I finally woke up. 

Battery Life

The Pivotal Tracker 1's rechargeable lithium-polymer battery can last one week on a single charge. That's not as good as the Movo Wave, which has two weeks of battery life, and nowhere near as good as the six months of battery life the Jawbone Up Move and Misfit Flash can get with their coin cell batteries.

After I used my Tracker 1 for three full days, the battery was nearly depleted. Thankfully, the Tracker 1 only takes an hour to fully recharge, so you won't be waiting long if your device dies in the middle of the day.

Bottom Line

Pivotal Living’s Tracker 1 is a solid activity tracker, accurately tracking steps, calories, distance and sleep, complete with a compellingly designed app. If you’re deterred by the word "subscription,” think of it this way: As a member of Pivotal Living's service, it would take you four years to pay as much as you would currently pay for a $50 Jawbone Up Move or Misfit Flash. Also, the idea of tying a free activity tracker to a monthly subscription might just be the incentive people need to keep using the device. Then again, how many gym memberships go unused for months?

The Tracker 1 doesn’t come without a few drawbacks, however. I wish the battery life were better, and that I could track specific activities and foods. Most importantly, Pivotal Living must fix the random resetting problem with the band. But provided it can address this bug, the Pivotal Tracker 1 is an inexpensive activity tracker that shouldn't be overlooked.

Follow Valentina Palladino at @valentinalucia. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide and on Facebook.