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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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Alcatel introduces their fastest LTE mobile broadband devices

You should get these if you want the speed

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TCL just announced their fastest LTE mobile broadband devices under the Alcatel brand. Two new mobile hotspots join the brand’s Linkzone series — the Linkzone Cat12 and the Linkzone Cat7.

The Alcatel Linkzone Cat12 has maximum download speeds of up to 600Mbps and upload speeds of 100Mbps, but that’s if your telco supports 3-channel LTE carrier aggregation. It’s also one of the smallest pocket Wi-Fi models in the market, but it still has a massive 4300mAh battery. Alcatel claims that the Linkzone Cat12 can deliver 15 straight hours of usage or up to 300 hours of standby time. The device has dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac and can also act as a power bank for other mobile devices.

Then there’s the Alcatel Linkzone Cat7 which might not be as fast as the Cat12 but still has respectable download speeds of up to 300Mbps and upload speeds of 100Mbps using 2-channel LTE carrier aggregation. The mobile Wi-Fi is pocketable, lightweight, and can last for 8 hours on a single charge.

The Linkzone Cat12 and Linkzone Cat7 from Alcatel will be available in select regions around the world starting later this year at EUR 180 (US$ 220) and EUR 100 (US$ 125), respectively.

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LG Watch Sport Review

Fitness buddy on your wrist

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With the influx of smartwatches available today, it sometimes gets confusing to choose which specific device suits your needs. Although they all have a common purpose, some of these wearables cater to specific audiences. There are the straightforward variants that simply track your activities, or smartwatches with unique designs that will cost you. There are also those that boast built-in features.

This is where the LG Watch Sport comes in as it runs on the latest Android Wear 2.0 OS and comes with goodies not usually seen on normal smartwatches.

Minimalist design

The LG Watch Sport doesn’t have the rotating bezel of the Samsung Gear S3 or the textured strap of the Fitbit Ionic. No, it flaunts a plain design for the bezel with a simple strap devoid of anything eye-catching.

Still, I personally like how it’s made. The watch itself is a bit thick, but nothing out of the ordinary when you compare it against other smartwatches.

The 1.38-inch circular P-OLED display has pleasing colors even under sunlight and viewing angles are decent.

On its right side, there are three buttons with the main crown having the ability to rotate. The top button launches Google Fit in an instant while the bottom is for Android Pay.

When you turn it over on its belly, you’ll be introduced to its heart rate sensor. It’s also worth noting that since this is activewear, the body is sealed to have an IP68 certification. This means it can withstand sweat, a shower, and even being submerged in up to 1.5m of water for 30 minutes.

The Watch Sport charges wirelessly through its included cradle. Just plug the USB-C cable and dock the watch to charge. This has always been my preferred charging setup — better than fumbling while trying to connect the cable to the device.

A smooth experience

As mentioned earlier, the Watch Sport already runs on Android Wear 2.0. It now comes with design updates and needed features that make the experience more enjoyable as a whole.

A selection of watch faces are fun to switch around from time to time, and standalone apps make the watch easily accessible in just a few taps.

One press of the middle button and the available apps come as a scrolling list. Apart from swiping the display to browse through them, rotating the crown scrolls through the selection which gives the experience a more tactile feel.

The LG Watch proves to be responsive when you’re swiping across the display, but tapping on selections sometimes need be done knowingly — precise and with a bit of effort.

Overall, it’s been pretty easy to navigate through its menu and submenu, even if the user isn’t familiar with the Android ecosystem.

Google Fit is your friend

Onto fitness tracking. The Sport in its name should be a dead giveaway that it focuses on your activities. Google Fit is a capable assistant during training or workout sessions as it works in tandem with the heart rate sensor to give users real-time info like BPM and calories burned.

The standalone app is accompanied by vast selections of exercise trackers ranging from backcountry skiing to kickboxing. If you’re just in the gym lifting weights, Strength Training mode is the way to go; it will give you a summary of how your workout went.

I’d say that a big chunk of why I appreciate this smartwatch is the fact that it’s somehow centered around Google Fit. The one-press button to launch and scrolling to browse through its activity features make it easy to just have it on your wrist when you hit the gym.

Extra features to enjoy (depending on where you are)

The Watch Sport isn’t just useful when you’re sweating it out. LG also made it capable to be used for everyday payments through Android Pay. Although there’s already a fair number of countries that support this system, it’s still not available widely so that’s one thing to consider.

Another thing is that the watch accepts a nano-SIM card which allows users to still be connected without using a phone. The problem is, it works only in the US, as other countries don’t currently support full features (like NumberSync).

Battery life could be better

But then again, most smartwatches don’t excel in this department. This is because it’s always been a challenge to equip watches with a large capacity pack while at the same time making the shell as thin as possible.

In real-life use, taking it off its charging cradle in the morning will last you for about 10 hours, so you’ll barely make it in time back to your place to charge. Activate its always-on display and expect battery life to drain almost twice as fast.

Verdict

The LG Watch Sport is easily a friend to gym buffs and fitness freaks, if you have the US$ 300 budget. It might not help list down your caloric or water intake, but it will be with you every step of your training.

It does all the things that a usual smartwatch does, but it’s just a bit of a downer that you have to be in select places to fully take advantage of its features (although I still enjoy mine with no Android Pay and SIM connectivity).

At the end of the day, it’s your routine and what you do that dictates your need for devices like this.

Is the LG Watch Sport your GadgetMatch?

SEE ALSO: Fitbit Ionic review: What forced me to get fit

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Official Samsung Galaxy S9 cases are now available including a Hyperknit cover

All are looking good!

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We’re just a week away from the official announcement of the Galaxy S9 from Samsung, but its official cases just can’t wait anymore.

With all the leaks we’ve seen and read about all over the internet, we already know everything about the physical looks of the Galaxy S9. It’s supposedly not much different compared to its predecessor, aside from the fingerprint reader placement at back. With probably the same fragile glass body, how do we protect it? Here’s a preview of the official cases from Samsung.

Fabric is the new thing in tech nowadays. If the luxurious Alcantara cases aren’t enough, the Galaxy S9 will also have Hyperknit covers in red or gray. There’s another cloth case with a flap on the front and shows time when closed.

The usual high-quality silicone cases will also be available and they’ll come in pink, black, and gray. The coverage of the silicone cases is the same as the Hyperknit’s sans the sporty-looking fabric cover.

The staple Clear View Stand cases will be on sale as usual. So far, there are three confirmed colors: gold, purple, and blue.

The source link below directs to the listing of MobileFun along with the corresponding prices of these and others like the new Alcantara cases but they don’t have available images as of writing.

Source: MobileFun

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S9 Preview Video

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