Smart watches, fitness devices, and the consumer internet of things (IoT) are all the rage these days. Everyone is in on the consumer mobile IoT action including large companies like Sony (Smartwatch), Samsung (Gear),Qualcomm (Toq), Intel , Motorola (MotoActv) and smaller companies like Fitbit, Jawbone, and Pebble. I’m an avid Fitbit, Pebble and Polar user, have used Toq, MotoACTV, Pebble, and recently had the chance to use a fitness band called SYNC Burn that I’d like to tell you about, as I think it makes some nice trade-offs between features and price. I think the best way to describe the watch is through “plusses” and “minuses”.
SYNC Burn Highs
- Physical design: looks very attractive and feels good as it is made of rubberized plastic. The band is reversable and you can choose between black and red. It’s doesn’t use a traditional watch bad but rather a snapping mechanism that after a few tries, feels right.
- Accurate heart rate measurement: I compared the Burn to my Polar watch plus chest strap and they were always within two to three beats apart. This is very impressive because Burn doesn’t need a chest strap. There are some downsides as I’ll discuss below.
- Battery life: While I can’t possibly test this yet, SYNC says the battery will last one year of using workout mode once per day. I noticed the watch “sleeps” when taken off for extended periods of time and it only measures heart rate when you are pushing the button. Also, Bluetooth is only on when syncing. This helps greatly with power conservation. At best, FitBit and Pebble last a week, Sony lasts 3-4 days, Toq 2-3 days, and Samsung 1 day.
- Robust display metrics: displays heart rate, calories, distance, steps in workout, daily, weekly modes.
- Waterproof: Unlike my Fitbit that I destroyed while swimming, Burn is waterproof.
- Backlight: Push the two buttons and you will get a blue backlight
- Price: At $99 at Best Buy, the SYNC Burn provides the most features at the least dollar. Most high-end watches start at $299 and Fitbit starts at $99, making SYNC Burn and incredible value.
SYNC Burn Lows
- Phone OS support: Unlike my Polar watch, SYNC Burn only syncs with iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad. Android, Windows, or BB10 need not apply. This was annoying because my primary phone is Android-based. As an analyst, I have phones from every ecosystem, so I synced with my iPhone 4s.
- Challenging heart rate button: It’s hard enough to exercise and it’s even hard to exercise and hold the heart rate button for five seconds while exercising. This is the tradeoff for a year battery life and no chest strap.
- Inaccurate steps and distance: I compared to FitBit and RunKeeper GPS and the Burn was off by 10-20% consistently. I hope this can get updated in firmware.
- Weaker than expected sync app: Burn syncs with MapMyFitness, which is nice, but is a weak app when compared to apps like RunKeeper. Unlike RunKeeper, MapMyFitness doesn’t offer comparison views, goal setting, personal records, activity types, or workput types. It just shows steps, calories, and miles.
The consumer IoT market is exploding, and there are a dizzying array of smart watches and exercise bands and watches out on the market. The consumer IoT market appears to be dividing into expensive, horizontally focused portable IoT devices and much less expensive vertical devices. SYNC Burn is definitely a vertical fitness device and isn’t trying to be anything else, and does it quite well. After having used the SYNC Burn fitness band for a few months, I have to say I liked it a lot. I’ts distinctive in that it’s high quality, lasts a year on batteries, measures heart rate accurately without a chest band, waterproof and at $99 (Best Buy), it will be very hard to get anything better today.