Review: iFit Classic

It’s probably a fair assumption that I like gadgets.  In fact, I love gadgets and my life revolves around them in some shape or form.  Be it a cycling computer, the newest smartphone or a new set of headphones.  I also have a bit of a watch fetish too.

I joined the smart watch brigade a little late and waited for Apple to unleash their variant on the market.  I’ve been very happy with it to date and I think the smart watch, as a category, is here to stay.  While I do wear it every day, the Apple watch (and all other smart watches) doesn’t really look like an analogue watch. Prior to wearing a smart watch I always liked a classic timepiece on my wrist.  Smart watches all have a similar look: a black screen, be it square, round or rectangular with customisable representations of a watch face. But something is lacking compared to a “real” watch.

I also wear a fitness band as I like the way it measures my attempts at fitness.  While I like both of these devices and I am happy to wear them both all the time, they do have some issues.  Neither can be worn when swimming and while my Fitbit charge is quite hard-wearing, my Apple Watch just seems a little bit too delicate to be subjected to any harsh treatment.  I own and have worn watches that can withstand being submerged in water and don’t have to be treated with kid gloves, but none of them have any fitness elements to them.

So when I was recently asked to take a look the iFit Classic, an amalgamation of an analogue timepiece and a fitness band, I jumped at the chance.

iFit was founded in 2013 and has created a fitness tracking standard used to bring together fitness activities at home, in the gym and outside, using iFit enabled equipment. While they have already produced a number of fitness bands, this is their first foray into the wearables smartwatch market.

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The watch itself has a 42mm bezel making it a chunkier than most.  It’s also sits nearly 13mm above the wrist.  Personally I love a chunky watch, the look and feel of the watch will look great with casual or smart attire.

With the appearance of a classic chronograph, the iFit classic allows tracking of steps, calorie intake and net calories via three dials, enabling the wearer to monitor their movement and diet on a daily basis.  None of this is new but it is the first to do so in this format.  All gathered information can be synced to an Android or iOS device wirelessly via Bluetooth 4.0.  The timepiece boasts battery life of 7 days, is water resistant to 50 metres, a first in smart watch territory, and retails for £199.  It comes in Obsidian black with platinum coloured bezel or Frost white with rose gold.

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What’s in the Box?

The iFit Classic arrives in a small but well-presented box that displays the watch colour you have purchased.  The cover of the watch box folds out to list its specifications.

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Along with the watch itself, you also receive a charging dock and a short micro USB cable.  All other required information and tracking takes place via the iFit app.

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The timepiece itself is lightweight and durable, with an adjustable rubber wristband, scratch resistant glass and fitness progress dials. It can measure steps, distance travelled and calories burned, it can also monitor sleep patterns and auto detect your activities without you having to change modes. The rear of the case houses the charging ports.

Setting Up

The watch supports Bluetooth 4.0 to connect to your Android or iOS device.  Once charged, the watch requires activating and waking from shipping mode. The time is set in the same way as a normal watch – pull out the crown and turn it until the correct time is displayed, then push the crown back in.

Open up the iFit app and follow the simple instructions to set up your account and pair your watch for the first time.  Whenever you open the app it will automatically sync your current data but it can also be done manually by sliding the app screen downwards.

The watched is charged using the included cradle.  A full charge can take anything between 4 and 8 hours. Charging via a computer’s USB port is possible but will be faster from a wall charger (any smartphone wall wart will do the job). The red LED on the watch face will flash during charging and when complete, the green LED is lit until charging stops.

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Using the iFit Smart Watch.

As said, the watch will automatically record steps taken and the size of your stride can be calibrated within the app itself.  The steps dial on the app (left hand side of the dial) measures up to 10,000 steps and if more steps are taken, the hand will continue around the dial again.  Total steps can be viewed in the app and can be broken down by day, week or month.  You can also calibrate the displayed stats to show a combination of two recorded elements, be it steps taken and calories burned, or calorie intake and sleep.  This will show the aggregate totals for each measurement as well.

The watch can also measure sleep and the quality of that sleep. Once you have set your usual sleep times, the watch will record any movement during those times and break down your sleeping pattern. Categories include light sleep, deep sleep, any time you are awake and the number of times you wake.  The watch will turn off the Bluetooth feature during set sleep times, which helps to preserve the battery. It is possible to sync during your set sleep times, this has to be done manually.

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You can track calories on watch itself or via the app once again. On the watch, holding down the top button for three seconds will place the watch in calorie recording mode – doing so will move the hand to the 3 o’clock position and then back to 12.00.  You can then repeatedly depress the bottom button to record 50 calories at a time – holding the button down will do so more quickly.

This is great if you actually know the calorie count of your meal. While the feature may not be as much use for an entire meal, compared to snacks on the go, (where most calorie information can be found on the side of the packet), it’s is a quick and easy way to log your intake.

From the app you can specify a particular food item or beverage. You can scroll through a list of options,or search directly for any particular product or meal.  As you add food or drink to your calorie diary, it will add each recorded item to your personal food library which will make adding your meals easier as time goes on.  It should be said that this database leans toward the U.S. marketplace.  Most ready-made food products appeared to be from American brands that might not be available in the UK, and when product names differ there can be some confusion, for example entering chips will bring up crisps.  I can see this changing as the iFit watches become more popular here in the UK.

It’s also possible to log details by scanning the barcodes on the products themselves by activating the barcode scanner using the blue icon on the LOG FOOD OR DRINK page

Through manually entering calorific intake and automatic step counting, the topmost dial will display the net calories for the wearer.  The 12.00 hand position denotes 0 calories and the 6.00 position denotes + or – 2,000 calories.  Much more information is, of course, available within the app itself.

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The watch includes vibration alerts for various notifications.  If the watch doesn’t sense movement for a period of time (that you specify in the app) it will vibrate twice to encourage you to move.  If you reach any of your set goals, the watch will vibrate four times and the red and green lights on the watch face will flash as a visual notification.

The watch can retain up to 30 days of data. Anything not synced within 30 days will start to be overwritten with new information.  Syncing data can be done manually via the app but the watch will sync whenever the app is open.  If the battery on the watch runs out, any un-synced data will be lost. The watch will flash both on screen LEDs for five seconds when the battery gets below 15% and will continue to do so every five minutes until the battery is completely drained. Be sure to sync before this happens.

I’ve been wearing the iFit Classic for just over a week now and I still love the way it looks.  It is accurate in its measurement of steps and distance as measured by my FitBit Charge HR and far more accurate than my Apple watch appears to be for the same metrics. While this may be down to calibration, it’s great to know that the iFit Classic has been ready straight out of the box.  It also keeps time very well, which is extremely important for a watch.

One thing that I’ve really liked is that I’ve never HAD to take it off.  I’ve been jet skiing and knee boarding with it on and it’s just kept on ticking, literally.  This is something that I could never have attempted with my previous smart watches or fitness bands.

If I’m completely honest, I haven’t been on top of the calorie intake logging as much as I could or should have. Calorie logging on the watch can be time consuming as most meals have an unknown calorie count and need to be entered via the app. It’s fair to say ,it’s not always the first thing I think about doing throughout the day.  Maybe if I were more concerned about my weight and were trying to actively lose weight, this logging would become more second nature.

Some may argue the one thing this watch is missing is the ability to measure heart rate, but many fitness bands also don’t have this ability.  In truth only those that actively want to be in a fat burning zone, need to know their heart rate during a workout.  For many, counting steps and their calories burnt in a day is more than adequate and this watch handles that ability well.

There are a couple of minor things about the watch that I think could be improved.  Seeing the time at night is more difficult than I’d expect. Even after the watch has been under natural light for some time, the hour markers barely glow and even when they do it’s impossible to see the watch hands. Also, as the watch is connected via the app, it would be good if the time could be automatically set via the phone.  This would mean a more precise setting and also mean that the watch was always correct.  As mentioned these are both minor points and haven’t affected my use or enjoyment of the iFit Classic.

Summary

I’m sure this is the watch many fitness fans have been waiting for.  It would definitely reduce the need for some to wear a fitness band alongside a smart watch and, as many watch wearers don’t NEED to have constant notifications for messages and emails on the wrist (as their phones do it all for them already), this time piece will give them the ability to tell the time whilst recording their important data.  The battery life is fantastic and not having to charge every two or three days is a real plus point.

As this timepiece is very new, I think it’s fair to say that we will see improvements to the iFit Classic with future updates, and with further watches being added to the range soon, the abilities of this watch can only improve over time.  I’ve definitely found a new watch to fight for time on my wrist – no small feat – and I can’t wait to see what iFit brings to their brand over time (no pun intended, honest!)

 

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