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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

Accessories

BAUBAX 2.0: A travel jacket for all your needs

Pockets for all your gadgets!

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Traveling can be a pain with all the gadgets and gizmos we carry around. One company sought to solve all these problems with a travel jacket that will cater to your every need while in transit.

The BAUBAX travel jacket, with 15 different utility features (including dedicated pockets for your phone and your tablet), was born for this. Backed by almost 50,000 people with a total of US$ 9 million pledges on Kickstarter, this travel jacket has shipped out and is hailed as the “Swiss Army Knife of travel jackets.” Yep, it’s that good.

But now, BAUBAX is back with a new travel jacket and it has even more functions than the last one. Introducing, the BAUBAX 2.0:

Aside from our favorites which include a dedicated phone pocket and power bank pocket…

… there’s also a tiny pocket for your AirPods.

As if that wasn’t enough, there are built-in AirPods straps so you’ll never have to worry about losing them.


There’s even a dedicated Apple Pencil pocket! Don’t worry, there’s a pocket for your iPad, too.

Other cool features include a retractable keychain, a zipper pen, a foldable water bottle, travel blanket, and a whole lot more.

Despite all these amazingly useful functions, the best part is it actually looks good. It comes in four styles: vest, windbreaker, bomber, and sweatshirt. There’s a perfect one for each of your different travel itineraries, whether it be a camping trip, road trip, long plane ride, or just everyday wear.

Women are not left out! The four designs also come in women’s sizes which is a great thing because as we girls know, there’s a different fit that looks better on women’s bodies.

You can check out more of what the BAUBAX 2.0 can do on their Kickstarter page — there’s still a few days left to pledge!

Travelling will never be the same again — and in a good way. I’m definitely sold on this jacket. I want one of each color. 😛

SEE ALSO: Drones fly luxury Dolce & Gabbana handbags on the runway

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Xiaomi announces Mi Crowdfunding program for products in India

Mi Bluetooth Audio Receiver and Mi Selfie Stick Tripod are currently available

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Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has announced a new program called Mi Crowdfunding in India. Under this program, Xiaomi will post a curated list of innovation-driven products and the company will start selling these products only when a specified number of people support the product.

Crowdfunding is used by companies to test consumer interest for unique products, usually when companies aren’t sure of the product’s success. Under this program, the interested customers show their support by paying the product’s price in advance.

However, only after reaching a certain sales number will the product be shipped to the customer. In case the product fails to meet the targeted sales in the set timeline, customers will get their money back.

To kick off Mi Crowdfunding, Xiaomi has introduced two new products: the Mi Bluetooth Audio Receiver and Mi Selfie Stick Tripod, which are priced at INR 999 (US$ 15) and INR 1,099 (US$ 17) respectively. The first is a headphone amplifier that connects to smartphones via Bluetooth 4.2. The tripod selfie stick does exactly what it says — it’s a combination of a tripod and a selfie stick. It also comes with a Bluetooth shutter remote control.

Mi Bluetooth Audio Receiver

Mi Selfie Stick Tripod

 

The platform accepts payments via most online payment methods, but Cash on Delivery (CoD) is not accepted. Online payment methods include credit card/debit card, internet banking, and payment wallets. Further, in the event that the price of a certain product is changed, those who have already paid will not be affected.

Xiaomi India’s Online Sales Head Raghu Reddy said that the crowdfunding platform, which was only operational in China until now, will help Xiaomi gauge what products buyers want. Xiaomi will bring new products to the platform every quarter.

SEE ALSO: Mi MIX 2S hands-on: Xiaomi’s pride and joy

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Sennheiser AMBEO Smart Headset First Look

It ‘hears’ audio in 3D — just like how our ears work

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Sennheiser has once again proven its authority when it comes to audio equipment.

The German company recently launched its inaugural Sound Forum in the Philippines following Indonesia and Thailand. This comes as their very own audio education initiative that offers insights based on Sennheiser’s expertise from years in the industry.

Things like selecting the right headphones for you, the right microphone for video-related production, proper maintenance of gear, and more are tackled at the forum.

A slew of audio solutions were also on display, but one of the products that caught our attention was the Sennheiser AMBEO Smart Headset. It was made available towards the end of last year and not only does it offer high fidelity audio, it also features noise cancellation, speech enhancement for calls, situational awareness, and true binaural sound recording.

In layman’s terms: True binaural recording means it records audio just like how your ears perceive sound.

Sennheiser teamed up with American digital audio company Apogee Electronics to come up with this device. It basically uses microphones embedded in each ear to mimic how the ears hear sound. With them around, you can shoot a video on your phone and audio will be recorded just like how you hear things at that moment.

We tried it for a short while and we’re actually impressed at how faithful it reproduced sound happening around us with extra depth and space.

We weren’t able to save the short video we took but above is a sample of the Sennheiser AMBEO at work.

As of the moment, this headset is only compatible with iPhones through a Lightning connector. Although the company says it will also be available for Android devices in the future.

Sennheiser believes 3D audio is the future of enhancing users’ listening experience and the AMBEO line might just be a step in the right direction.

The Sennheiser AMBEO Smart Headset retails for US$ 399.

SEE ALSO: Sony WH-1000XM2 hands-on: A new experience

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