Suffering from the “sitting disease”, or rather the sedentary lifestyle that plagues most of the developed world? Need some motivation to get your butt off that comfy roller chair? With so many fitness tracking devices on the market these days, there’s really no excuse.
So when I got the chance to try out the LifeTrak Brite (courtesy of AxtroSports), I jumped on it. As its name suggests, the LifeTrak Brite measures not just your steps, calories burnt, sleep quality, distance covered and heart rate variability; it also checks to see if you get enough light exposure, giving you a holistic picture of your health. It claims to be not just a fitness tracker, but a Life Tracker.
With such a bold claim, how does it fare amongst the sea of wearables out there? Let’s take a look.
Unboxing (First Impressions)
The Brite comes in a small but sleek box containing the watch and an accompanying instruction manual, which was fairly easy to understand. LifeTrak wasn’t kidding when they said “Quick Start”; the LifeTrak guide and interface was rather user-friendy and we were all ready to roll within 5-10 minutes after unboxing the device.
Neat, simple and polished. This is perhaps where the R450 stands out amongst its competitors. The R450 has a circular watch face, a fresh change from the square-ish devices out on the market. The three round buttons on its right side gives it a classy feel, as if it is a high-end designer watch.
Its interface however, is rather pixelated. Whether you love the display or not will boil down to your personal preference — I would have preferred something more modern-looking to suit the sleek design of the watch.
The watch strap is also simple and easy to use, utilising what is called a “SureSnap” mechanism, giving it a very youthful and chic feel. The rubbery strap fits very snugly around the wrist. Considering this watch is meant to be worn 24/7, LifeTrak has done a good job in this area.
Heart Rate Tracking
LifeTrak claims that the sensor on the Brite provides ECG-accurate heart rate tracking. Is this true? I am personally inclined to believe so. The readings from the Brite matched those readings displayed on my Polar FT1 and readouts from the treadmill handlebar at the gym. A simple manual pulse count confirmed the accuracy as well.
Even during exercise, the Brite provides a good readout, ensuring that you stay in your ideal training zone during cardio workouts. However, it must be noted that the Brite only provides a readout whenever the middle button is pressed and held on to for about three seconds. Unlike the Basis Peak or Fitbit Charge HR and Surge, it does not provide 24/7 heart rate monitoring, which is a pity.
A staple in all fitness bands these days, the Brite provides a fairly accurate step count. Its complex algorithms do not count random hand flailing and nonsensical movements as steps — something which other trackers such as the Fitbit Flex sometimes does. In my experience, it takes about 10-20 steps before the LifeTrak identifies that you are indeed walking before counting those steps into your daily step count, so no cheating for you funky monkeys.
Sleep Tracking (and Smart Alarm)
The Brite automatically notices when you fall asleep, based on the light exposure in your surroundings and your level of movement. It tracks your sleep efficiency (quality of sleep) and number of times you wake up at night. In addition, the smart alarm system wakes you up at an optimal time — when you are at the lightest phase of your sleep — so as to not cause a rude awakening. The silent alarm of the watch vibrates on your arm to wake you up without disturbing your loved ones around you.
This is the Brite’s signature feature. It encourages you to get more light exposure in the day and less at night to optimise your circadian rhythm. It even recommends that you get more blue light in the morning (which promotes awakening) and limiting it at night for a good night’s rest. I honestly feel that there is a lot of potential here in LifeTrak’s new idea, but I am not too sure how many will take the effort to bask in sunlight just because the Brite buzzed you to.
The LifeTrak Brite can display notifications from your smartphone, buzzing whenever you receive SMSes, WhatsApp messages (and other IMs), emails and so on. It seems like its manufacturer Salutron is sizing itself up to get in the ring with Pebble.
However, this feature was a disappointment as the phone constantly disconnects from the watch. The only time I receive notifications is when I manually sync the watch with the phone — only to get disconnected again 5 minutes later. That said, I don’t consider this much of a deal breaker: imagine the watch buzzing whenever you receive a WhatsApp message such as “haha”, “lol” or “ok” — that’s got to be kind of annoying. Nevertheless, a commendable effort by LifeTrak here.
From within the LifeTrak app, you can set alerts to remind you to get up and start walking. So whenever you have been inactive for too long, the watch will buzz and remind you that sedentary living is one of the world’s leading causes of obesity and major health problems. Ok, maybe not, but it will buzz and get you off that comfy roller chair to take a couple of steps around and get some blood flowing.
Connectivity + the App
The LifeTrak app is available for all Android and iOS devices. It is relatively simple to use and easy to understand. However, it is somewhat lacking in aesthetics and beauty. Syncing the Brite with the app is alright; it works the same way as the Basis B1 band, whereby the sync has to be initiated manually and takes about 15 seconds to be done. Not much of a trouble, but when compared to the Fitbit devices that sync automatically 24/7, it does lose its competitive edge.
What the app lacks in complexity of aesthetics, though, it makes up for in functionality. The graphs may be simple, but they’re easy for the layman to understand. In addition, there is a feature for you to adjust the sensitivity of your watch, allowing you to reduce or increase your steps tracked and calories burnt by a percentage to improve the accuracy of the metrics provided. So kudos for that! I have yet to seen a fitness tracker that allows me to do this.
The LifeTrak Brite R450 is certainly a refreshing addition to the market of wearables today. Its LightTrak feature is most definitely one filled with potential. While I hope to see more updates that will make this more user-friendly, it remains a feature-packed superwatch that seems limited not by its functionality, but by its app.