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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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Cheap Unlimited Airline Wi-Fi: #TravelHacks (Episode 1)

Plus our favorite travel gadget!

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In the very first episode of #TravelHacks, we fly to Singapore on Singapore Airlines’ new 787-10 regional business class. I show you how to pick the right kind of luggage, give you tips on how to live out of a suitcase, get unlimited Wi-Fi on flights, taste the world’s cheapest Michelin Star meal, and of course, talk about my perfect travel gadget.

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PhoneSoap Go: A portable device that will sanitize your smartphone

It isn’t called PhoneSoap for nothing!

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That smartphone in your purse can do so much but it also has 18 times more bacteria than the average public toilet. Before we continue, let that sink in.

Before you drop that phone you’re probably reading this article on, know that there’s a way to clean your handset and it doesn’t involve soap and water. Introducing: PhoneSoap.

PhoneSoap Go is the brand’s latest release. It’s a tiny chest that will literally clean your smartphone. It uses UV-C light to kill bacteria on your device. All you do is put your smartphone inside, tap the lightning button, wait 10 minutes for one cleaning cycle, and your phone should be germ-free.

The inside compartment can house your phone, no matter what size. It’s pretty spacious so it can even fit small everyday stuff like keys or wallets. Despite all that space, the PhoneSoap Go is designed for portability. This is PhoneSoap’s smallest device — something you can bring along on trips to make sure your handset is sanitized anywhere you go.

On the back of the chest is a USB-A and a USB-C port. This is because the PhoneSoap Go has a 7000mAh battery built into it. That’s enough for 45 cleaning cycles, or four phone charging cycles.

Yes, I said phone charging cycles. That’s because you can actually use it as a power bank. There’s even a slot for your charging cable so you can charge as you sanitize your phone. That means even if the whole cleaning cycle is just 10 minutes, you can leave your phone plugged in longer. There’s even “acoustic outlets” at the bottom so you can hear phone notifications.

Of course, unless I have a petri dish and some phone swabs, I won’t be able to say definitively that this thing can clean 99.99 percent of bacteria on your phone, as the brand claims. But, I will say that if it does end up sanitizing your phone in any capacity, that’s already a good enough deal considering how dirty these things supposedly are, and how much we’re holding on to them on a daily basis.

But really, more than phone cleaning, what you get is peace of mind. Honestly, my own (many, rotating) devices have been chilling a lot in my PhoneSoap ever since I got it.

The PhoneSoap Go retails for US$ 79.95 and you can get it from their website.

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Accessories

This titanium strap elevates the way your Apple Watch looks

And doesn’t deplete your savings

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Although Nomad is best known for its beautifully crafted Horween Leather accessories, that doesn’t stop the company from trying other things like the Tesla Model 3 wireless charger from six months ago. This time around, the company dabbles in something familiar but still different — its first metal Apple Watch bands.

The new straps come in silver and space gray, and fits the 42mm/44mm models. There’s no word yet on rose gold and gold bands, as well as straps compatible with the smaller 38mm/40mm models.

The company promises the metal bands to be as light as possible, while maintaining that premium feel and durability thanks to the use of high-grade titanium.

The straps come with Nomad’s custom lugs and over twenty titanium links — ten of them removable — that you can customize according to your wrist size, as Nomad is including the link removal tool in the package.

Nomad’s new titanium Apple Watch bands are available now for US$ 179.95 on the Nomad website; that’s half the price of Apple’s own metal link band.

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