Samsung Gear Icon X Rocks Your Ears and Takes Your Pulse

I like the idea of rocking out while I run, but I hate the idea of cords dangling off my ears. And I don't want to strap a phone to my arm either. The Gear Icon X, coming this summer for $199, makes it easy to take your favorite workout songs with you, as these Bluetooth buds have 4GB of built-in storage.

Samsung Gear IconX Hands-on

Worried about getting lit up by a truck as you sweat to "Light it Up"? Don't worry, the Icon X have a clever ambient sound mode that let you hear the world around you as you work out.

Designed for casual exercisers, the Icon X has a built-in optical heart rate monitor and an accelerometer to track your distance and speed. The earbuds sync with Samsung's Health app so  you can track your progress, and they'll work with third-party apps like Mapmyrun, Endomondo and Strava.

During my brief hands-on time with the Icon X, I found the touch controls pretty easy to use. You just swipe up or down to control the volume, and long press to start a workout or enter ambient sound mode. (You have to wait.) A single press pauses and starts the music, or answers calls when they come in.

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You'll hear voice prompts in your ear as you cycle through the options, as well as intensity zone audio alerts as you reach them. However, I wish the device were smart enough to recognize your voice so you can just say "start run." It would save time.

Each earbud has 4GB of storage built in, but the Icon X actually plays the tracks in each ear at the same time, so you can't use the full 8GB. However, this tactic ensures that the playback stays in sync.

Samsung promises up to 3.6 hours of battery life and 3.3 hours with music and activity tracking, but only 1.5 hours when streaming from your phone. When you need more juice, you just place the earphones in the including charging case.

The Icon X will come in three colors (white, black or blue), and you'll be able to take your pick from three sets of ear gels and ear glides to get the best fit.

Overall, I could see myself running with the Icon X, but I wish you could transfer not just MP3s to them but also offline playlists from Spotify. Maybe version 2.0?

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