LAS VEGAS — Under Armour is getting into the fitness tech market in a big way, launching an activity tracker, connected scale, heart rate chest strap, Bluetooth headphones, and a pair of running shoes that can track your distance and stride. And, all will tie into UA's new health app, called UA Record, giving a greater overall picture of your health.
Under Armour is packaging the $180 Band, $180 Scale, and a chest strap heart rate monitor ($80) together in the UA HealthBox for $400, which represents a savings of $40. I've been wearing the shoes and activity tracker for a week or two now—and reluctantly stepping on the scale—and came away with fairly good initial impressions.
The UA Speedform Gemini 2 RE shoes are the most interesting device of the lot. These shoes, based on Under Armour's popular Gemini line, have a built-in sensor that will automatically track your distance, pace, and cadence when you start running. The shoes will then sync to the UnderArmour MapMyRun app, where you can see not only your running stats, but how many miles you've put on the shoes—essential for knowing when to replace them.
UA says the battery in the shoes is large enough to last through their lifetime, which it says is 400 miles. I took the shoes out for several runs totaling more than 35 miles, and found them to be very comfortable; they provided plenty of support, and I liked the heel-to-toe drop, which helped with my running form. However, the insoles are attached, so if you run with orthotics, these may not be the shoes for you. Still, at a suggested price of $150, you're only paying a premium of about $20, compared to the original list price for the non-teched out Gemini shoes.
The UA Band, made in partnership with HTC, has a 1.36-inch PMOLED display, and connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth. In many ways, it's reminiscent of the Garmin Vivosmart, in that it has a narrow touch-sensitive display. Considering HTC debuted the Grip fitness tracker, which has a much larger screen, at Mobile World Congress last year, it's a bit surprising that Under Armour didn't simply try and re-brand this device. The UA Band also has an optical heart rate monitor on its underside, but the company says this will be used only to get your resting heart rate, similar to the Jawbone Up4. However, at its suggested price of $180, the Band is a lot more expensive than competing devices such as the Fitbit Charge HR and the Garmin Vivosmart HR.
Under Armour's connected scale, called simply the UA Scale ($180), has a nice round design with a large display at its top. As with many smart scales, it can measure not only your weight, but your body mass index by recording the electrical impulses from your bare feet. The scale is about 14 inches in diameter, and runs on four AA batteries. It connects not only to your phone via Bluetooth, but can also upload your data directly to the cloud via its built-in Wi-Fi.
All the data gathered from the Band, Scale, shoes can be fed into the UA Record app, which is designed to give you a picture of your overall health. Divided into four segments, the app lets you view your sleep, fitness activity, weight and nutrition goals. Similar to competing apps, you can also challenge friends and see how others are doing. As Under Armour also owns MapMyFitness, you can add in diet tracking from that app, though the UA Record app also lets you say, in general terms, how much you've had to eat in a given day.
Additionally, Under Armour will also sell a pair of Bluetooth headphones made by JBL for $180; later on this year, it will also sell a version of the headphones that can also measure your heart rate, but they'll cost $250. Both are pretty pricey, given that some of the better wireless sports headphones cost around $100; although they're not wireless, the SMS Audio BioSport earbuds, which also record your heart rate, cost $149. Still, in my limited time with them, the UA headphones have been comfortable to wear and deliver well balanced audio.
I'll be testing out a lot of these devices more thoroughly, so stay tuned for my full reviews.