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Magellan’s new Echo range of smart fitness watches are really dumb – and better for it.

It seems that there are two ways to make a fitness watch a.k.a running, sports, or health watch.

The first is to jam as much of the electronics into the watch - GPS, compass, app, operating system, sensors, other apps like music player and more to enable it to run as a standalone device.

The second is as a companion device to a smartphone - it echoes the smart phone app output to the watch screen. Magellan’s Echo is just that, allowing the watch to run for six months using a low cost coin battery. In this case, it is smart to be dumb and it costs a lot less too, with these starting from $149.

It uses the new Bluetooth (BT 4.0) low power technology to hook up to the smartphone. At launch, it will only work with the iPhone 5 or later but will soon talk to Android BT 4.0 based phones.

“As its name suggests, this device echoes anything your fitness app tracks. Currently it is compatible with popular fitness apps including all Wahoo, Strava, MapMyRun, iSmoothRun, and Runtastic with more added each month. It is an open platform so new Echo apps can be developed all the time,” said Paris Basson, Brand Manager Magellan Australia/New Zealand.

The Echo is showerproof and has an optional $50, BT heart rate monitor chest strap. It comes in black, tangerine, and blue.

Opinion

A competent fitness watch enhanced by the six-month battery life and the ability to echo on its screen any information from your favourite app.

The heart rate monitor strap is a damned inconvenience (any strap on monitor is) and I know a future project is an optical monitor built into watchstrap.

This will appeal to the now 4.8 million Aussies that are regularly walking or running to keep fit – like me.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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