LifeTrak — officially called the LifeTrak Move C300 — is a new all-in-one fitness tracker, heart rate monitor, and watch. The device syncs up with Azumio’s highly-rated free app, Argus, to deliver a complete suite of healthy info from your wrist to your pocket.
But for something that’s meant to seamlessly connect our fitness goals with our fitness data, has LifeTrak designed itself into a corner? We tried it out to see if LifeTrak improves Argus, and if it can solve the design problems that plague many popular fitness and health trackers.
What Is It?
LifeTrak, designed by Salutron, is a new competitor in the world of sleek, minimalist fitness trackers that includes the Nike+ Fuelband and Jawbone UP. LifeTrak was built to be compatible with Argus, Azumio’s fitness-tracking, calorie-counting, do-everything-you-ever-wanted app, which has received hundreds of four- and five-star reviews and accolades from the health media since its July release. One of the selling points is that the free app pairs up with almost any fitness tracker to give users even more detailed data.
Enter LifeTrak. The tracker, which is currently available for pre-order, repeats a lot of Argus’ features, but adds a heart rate monitor and calories burned counter all in one sleek gadget. Argus is one of the best fitness tracking apps we’ve seen, so LifeTrak should be even better, right?
Is it Legit?
LifeTrak is not a life-changer, but it’s not all bad, either. Azumio sent the Greatist Team a watch so we could test it out for ourselves. Right out of the box, LifeTrak looks pretty cool — the minimal black device is about the size of a standard Timex watch with interchangeable color bands to customize the strap. With just three buttons, it seemed like it would be a snap to use and access features like the heart rate monitor.
The problem is that form trumps function. Any feature that isn’t automatically recorded — like steps taken and calories burned — requires a bit of memorization and dexterity. For example, each button performs different functions depending on how long they’re held, what mode the device is in, and if they’re pressed in conjunction with other buttons. The heart rate monitor also seems a little spotty, either totally flat-lining (yikes!) or turning up resting rates of 60 bpm or 109 bpm, with nothing in between.
The physical design is LifeTrak’s most impressive pro as well as its biggest con. LifeTrak has a similar, attractive look and feel to the Fuelband and Jawbone Up, all three of which clearly borrowed from the iPad and iPhone school of minimalist design.
The difference is that “iProducts” have bright, visual displays, touch screens, and intuitive user interfaces. Fitness trackers such as LifeTrak and the Fuelband pack a lot of info and data onto tiny screens the user controls with a decreasing number of buttons. In LifeTrak, this problem is made apparent in the instructions, which need to explain how each button changes function depending on which screen or mode LifeTrak is in. These problems aren’t specific to LifeTrak — the Fuelband, for example, also takes a bit of memorization — but they are even more apparent in the LifeTrak.
LifeTrak is unique because it’s connected to Argus. Unfortunately for the watch/tracking device, part of the app’s beauty is the ability to track fitness and health without the need for separate devices. It’s possible to link up specialty devices (like a Withings scale, for example), but the added value is negligible when the data is something Argus tracks anyway.
For some people LifeTrak will be a competent, relatively inexpensive fitness tracker (the device will sell for $59.99). But it’s not reinventing the wheel, or even significantly improving the Argus experience. Argus does a lot of the things that LifeTrak is trying to do, but in a more user-friendly way.
Equally important, LifeTrak raises questions about why we feel the need to be tracking every metric. Do I need to know my heart rate to be healthy? Should I instead focus on calorie counting or diet? Since every individual person has a different set of goals and stats that will be personally relevant, it’s hard to know what’s essential and what’s more or less useless. LifeTrak and Argus aren’t wrong in providing a plethora of health-tracking options, but too much choice can make it difficult for the average user to find the information that is most relevant to them.
If you have the cash, LifeTrak, isn’t a bad choice. It’s more affordable than other trackers (that suffer from similar design problems, anyway). LifeTrak can compliment Argus, and might be useful for people looking for more data on their daily activities, but it’s also not a necessary accessory for those looking to create a healthier life.
Have thoughts? Share them in the comments below or find the author on Twitter at @zsniderman.