Tech Tools review: UA Healthbox
The package has an activity tracking wristband, heart rate monitor and wifi scales
UA Healthbox: €479
Product name: UA Healthbox
Where to buy: www.htc.com
Fitness trackers seem to be everywhere these days. However some gym bunnies are still holding out. For these folks comes an all-in-one package. The UA Healthbox is a complete system, with everything you need to get started – except willpower. The kit includes an activity and sleep-tracking wristband, a heart rate monitor for more serious exercise sessions, and a wifi-connected scales to help you keep track of your progress. The entire package carries the Under Armour branding, but the equipment was designed by HTC.
The first step is to download the UA Record app to your phone and connect the three devices over bluetooth. Once you have done that, you can get started. The easiest thing to do is simply strap the band on and go about your daily business. It tracks your steps, automatically switches to sleep mode, and will allow you to log a workout when you hit the gym. You can count steps on it too, or use it to tell the time. The display is touch sensitive, so you can swipe it to change between the different views, and the back of the band is dimpled, to allow for better airflow and try to eliminate the reactions some people have to silicon bands that sweat your skin.
It seems to switch to sleep mode when it detects very little movement over a sustained period. One particularly lazy morning, it had me getting an extra two hours of sleep that I felt cheated out of when I checked my stats. But on the whole, it’s reasonably accurate.
The device has a heart rate monitor on the back that will give you an idea of your resting heart rate, but it won’t track your heart rate during workouts. There are reasons for this, the most sensible being accuracy. It is, however, also a good way to push you into using the separate heart rate monitor, which switches on automatically when the sensors on the back of the strap detect the heat from your skin.
Generally, I’m not a fan of chest straps for heart rate monitors because they make me feel as if there’s a band of steel around my chest no matter how much I adjust them, but this had less of a vice grip on my rib cage.
When you put on the heart rate monitor, it communicates with the band and your UA app. The band suddenly starts to light up LEDs – blue, green, orange, red – depending on the intensity and speed of your workout, using your heart rate to calculate calorie burn. It’s an easy way to tell how well you are doing without having to peer at the band’s display, which is not that easy to read. The scales is the last piece of the puzzle. Weighing yourself isn’t the most fun of activities, but UA and HTC have put a friendly face on it. The scale addresses you by name, which I like to think makes sense as it’s always better to get bad news from a friend or loved one rather than a robotic stranger. It can distinguish between the different users in your home, with the scale able to take measurements from eight people. If you have given the app your goal weight, the scales will even give you a metaphorical thumbs up by displaying how much further you have to go to make your goal. Stand there even longer and you will get a body fat reading (thoroughly disheartening, I don’t recommend it if you are feeling fragile about your weight), which will then all sync up to your UA account over wifi. There’s very little you have to do to make all this happen, except remember to charge the band once every four days or so.
What have I learned about myself in the few weeks I’ve been using the Healthbox? First, I don’t move enough during work hours. Secondly, the scale itself is a magnet for toddlers who like to see it light up, leading UA Record to conclude my healthy eating kick was working a little too well and I had lost 45kg in a few days. There’s no way to edit the app data (yet) so my current monthly stats have my weight yo-yoing all over the place.
The devices work well together, despite early reports of connectivity issues.
The not so good
If you have already jumped on board the wearables bandwagon, the €400 price tag for the Healthbox may be a little steep.
Under Armour owns a lot of fitness apps these days, which means the data can be shared across Map My Fitness or My Fitness Pal.
This may be the push – albeit an expensive one – you need to finally give in to fitness tracking.