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Fitbit Ionic review: What forced me to get fit

Their very first smartwatch!

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I had previously reviewed the Fitbit Alta HR (and actually used it as my tracker for a long while) so I was pretty excited when the Ionic was announced. Fitbit, known for its fitness wearables, had finally ventured into the smartwatch category and there were pretty high expectations. With those expectations came questions: Would the watch perform well? Would it look and feel like a Fitbit? What other functions would it have?

I’ve been using the Ionic for around a week now and these are my thoughts on it.

It looks and feels like a Fitbit 

The Ionic has a unibody aluminum case and ships with their classic bands, made with the same elastomer materials as most sport watch bands. It feels sturdy and solid and it isn’t so heavy. The smartwatch comes in three versions: smoke gray face with a charcoal band, silver gray face with a blue-gray band, and the burnt orange face with a slate blue band which I tested out.

The watch face, though pretty big, is something me and my tiny wrists can live with. It’s surprisingly thick, however. Thankfully, you don’t really notice that detail once you’re wearing it.

There are three buttons on the watch: the back button on the left, the upper-right button which brings you to daily statistics, and the lower-right button which directs you to different exercise start screens.

It’s a touchscreen display, too, so navigation isn’t limited to those buttons. Swipe up for notifications, swipe left for quick settings, and swipe right for the main menu. It’s pretty responsive, though the lift to wake function does get slow at times.

My intense I-work-out look

Fitbit devices have a certain look that screams “I work out,” and the Ionic still has that vibe.

Usually perfect when you’re rocking workout clothes, this Fitbit will not match all your outfits, unfortunately.

Grays and minimal accessories, otherwise the look would clash with the Ionic

Fortunately, it does a decent job at trying — which means with a little extra effort (i.e. wearing neutral colors and staying away from dresses), it won’t look as comical with your everyday casual wear.

The screen is amazing

What I like about the Ionic is how the 1.42-inch screen feels so… wide. Now, I know, it’s a teeny thing, but navigation on the square screen with gestures was pretty enjoyable considering it’s still the size of a watch face.

It has four brightness settings: dim, normal, max, and auto. The screen is capable of 10,000 nits which is a number that meant nothing to me — until I tested it against bright outdoor lighting and I saw the light (pun intended); I could still see the display even with the harsh lighting.

Details on the screen are crisp and the display is pretty responsive. It’s also made out of Gorilla Glass so it shouldn’t scratch or break easily.

It’s a smartwatch!

The Ionic allows you to see notifications from your phone, and even read full messages (sans photos) on the screen.

Handy tip: When you read Facebook messages on the Ionic, they are not marked “read” on the Facebook app.

It works in tandem with the Fitbit app, like previous Fitbit wearables. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth and syncs your information — steps, heart rate, exercise, sleep — with the app. The software collates all of this and sends you weekly reports via email.

And because it’s a smartwatch, you can install apps on it! App selection is still limited at this point, though there are useful ones out there. Yelp, Philipps Hue, HIIT timer, Pomodoro, and Flipboard are all available for download.

The Ionic also has built-in storage, a trend we’re seeing in recent wearables, so that you can take your music to go. This means you won’t have to bring your phone on that quick run because you can play your music directly from the device.

Battery life is at three to four days, depending on your notification settings.

It has a whole range of fitness features

Of course, the Ionic is designed with fitness in mind. It has built-in personal exercise coaching programs; each one walks you through the whole routine with details on each exercise which basically leaves you with no excuse to not work out.

It also has preset programs for certain activities like running, biking, weightlifting, and interval training. This allows you to properly track each exercise routine.

Aside from the usual Fitbit features like step tracking and calorie counting, this device is equipped with a continuous heart rate monitor.

“But Isa, most trackers have a heart rate monitor!”

Yes, except turning them on totally kills the battery life on other devices. The Ionic’s heart rate monitor is continuously on by default and in my experience, the battery still lasts three to four days.

You can also use the Ionic to track your swimming exercises because it’s waterproof!

But, this isn’t the end of Ionic’s impressive fitness features.

There are also very, very fun functions

Thing is, you can track movement all you want but without the initiative to work out, you have nothing. Despite all modern fitness tracking features, no smartwatch has ever gotten me to actually exercise — until now.

The Fitbit Pets watch face is a total game changer for me. Developed by Fitbit Labs, it almost forces you to go work out… with cuteness. Each pet face lives on in your watch. To feed it, you need a certain number of steps in a day. Otherwise, your pet will leave you a heartbreaking letter asking you to feed it. 💔

One too many times, I’ve gone and exercised because I didn’t want my virtual doggo to starve. Talk about motivation!

The true treasure here is your health, TBH

Treasure Trek is also a Fitbit Labs app that gamifies your activity. It’s a treasure hunt powered by your step count!

Verdict

In the looks department, the Ionic didn’t quite do it for me. To be perfectly honest, I’m not a big fan of its design. Though I do understand that this is Fitbit’s signature look, I still feel like the whole point of a fitness wearable is to have it on all the time. For me to be able to do that, it has to be able to match things other than sports and athleisure wear. I say it again: Like other Fitbit, the Ionic still screams “I work out!” The blue and orange color option (which is the only bright color option) doesn’t help either.

But, looks aren’t all that matters. The more I used this thing, the more I enjoyed the experience. The crisp screen is always enjoyable to tinker with and smartwatch to Fitbit app integration is always seamless. Battery time is pretty good compared to other smartwatches I’ve tried. Fun Fitbit Labs apps like Fitbit Pets and Treasure Trek are also great integrations that set the Ionic apart.

If there’s anything I expected from the brand that acquired Pebble, it’s that they’d do smartwatches right. The Fitbit Ionic might not be fully there yet, but they’re on the way.

SEE ALSO: Fitbit Alta HR review

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CherryRoam offers affordable high-speed internet anywhere in the world

Cherry Mobile branches out to a new territory

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After venturing into prepaid telecommunication services with Cherry Prepaid, the makers of Cherry Mobile are now expanding their reach globally through a travel Wi-Fi roaming device — the CherryRoam. The roaming pocket Wi-Fi service will battle rivals with affordable rates and a more user-friendly device.

The CherryRoam device sports a 4-inch touchscreen display for ease of use and intuitive operation. It’s bigger than most pocket Wi-Fi available since it has a whopping 5350mAh battery inside. The large battery capacity will be able to last 15 hours of usage or charge other mobile devices thanks to the nifty power bank feature.

It’s powered by a Qualcomm 4G LTE chipset and GlocalMe’s CloudSIM technology which allows CherryRoam to automatically connect to the best network coverage anywhere in the world. The service is available in over 100 countries and you can share your connection with up to five devices.

CherryRoam’s flexible global per gigabyte rates and long validity packages offer cheaper data roaming costs. Packages start at PhP 250 which already includes 1GB of high-speed data that’s valid for three days in popular travel destinations. There are also unlimited day pass services which offer high-speed and unlimited browsing data.

The CherryRoam is available in the Philippines for PhP 6,990. If you don’t travel that much, you can also rent the device and have it delivered straight to your preferred local address. Visit their website for more information and to avail of the rental services.

SEE ALSO: Moshi Arcus: The perfect travel bag for creatives

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Mighty Purse takes away your on-the-go charging worries

Bring a power bank with you wherever you go

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Let’s face it, 99 percent of the time we don’t leave the house without bringing our phone with us. On top of that, more and more gizmos we take with us need charging — a power bank is becoming an essential thing to have. But if you prefer bringing smaller purses, then this might be a problem… or is it?

Mighty Purse is a line of leather purses that have portable chargers built in! They have many different styles in different sizes, but each one gives you the capability to plug whatever you need to charge right in your purse. Their designs are classic, and they also have options made with “vegan leather,” which widens the audience for the product.

The built-in battery packs are slim and take up barely any space, and with a 4000mAh capacity, it should be enough for an emergency top up on the go. That’s a pretty nice alternative to other power banks that might be high capacity, but take up a lot of space and add unnecessary weight to your bag.

These bags are pretty and practical, and with the variety they have, these could easily be used by anyone for anything. Check out the selection here.

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Bellabeat LEAF helps women reach their full potential

It’s smarter than you might think it is

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Fitness trackers and wearables are usually designed without the sex of the user in mind. Bands and straps might be, but the actual tracker itself and the apps that come along with them don’t tend to be. This is one thing that makes Bellabeat stand out — it was designed with the goal to help women reach their full potential.

Bellabeat is probably one of the most elegant wearables out there. Their flagship product is the LEAF, which is a pendant that can be put on as a bracelet or necklace, or can be clipped straight on your clothes. It tracks your activity, sleep, mindfulness, and even your cycle.

It comes with an accompanying app that helps you track your records, and learn what your habits are and what can be touched on. You can also make it so that you can get reminders to help you further reach your goals and stay consistent.

The LEAF has “highly sensitive movement sensors” that make sure you get the most accurate data possible, and their secure data backup ensures that the data doesn’t get lost. All you have to do is wear it and you can forget it — whether you’re sleeping, being active, or meditating, the LEAF works 24/7 and with a battery that lasts up to six months, you don’t even have to worry about charging!

You can pick up the Bellabeat LEAF starting at US$ 139 here.

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