Smart capabilities have become the latest marketing pitch to sell more wristwatches, TVs, eyeglasses, refrigerators, cars and even toothbrushes. But have we figured out why they need to be smart? I asked myself that as I wore LG's Lifeband Touch day and night for a week.
The new computerized wristband tracks workouts and calories burned and syncs with the LG Fitness app on an iPhone, iPad or Android device. It can also control music on a phone and alerts incoming calls and emails, at least for Android users.
The Lifeband marks the entry of LG Electronics Inc. into the fledgling market of wearable gadgets and follows smartwatches from Samsung Electronics Co., Sony Corp. and others. LG started selling the Lifeband in the U.S. last month for $150. It will be available in parts of Asia and Europe in coming weeks.
- THE SCREEN
As a fitness tracker, the Lifeband is meant to be used a lot outdoors. But its finger-length touch screen is hard to see in direct sunlight. I was unable to adjust the brightness, and I needed to find shade to make out the characters.
For just $50 more, you can get Samsung's Gear Fit with a curved screen capable of displaying clear and vibrant colors and which is readable in direct sunlight. The LG's screen offers only black and white.
- ODD FIT
The Lifeband doesn't have a strap that can be fastened and adjusted to the size of the wearer's wrist. Rather, it has a bendable plastic band, with a gap that widens to let the wrist slip in. The band then locks itself in place once on the wrist.
Although not having a strap to buckle on and off makes the Lifeband easy to wear and remove, it will dangle if the band is too big. The Lifeband comes in three sizes, and if your wrist is narrower, you might have to pull the wristband toward your forearm. By contrast, you can adjust the Gear's strap.
I often had to take off the gadget while writing or typing on a computer because it was too thick and heavy. I described it to friends as a digital handcuff because it squeezed my arm and kept moving between my wrist and my forearm.
- FITNESS TRACKING
You click the device's timer before beginning a workout, such as a run. Afterward, the phone or tablet app shows the route along with the distance, calories consumed and speed.
The Lifeband also