First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Magellan's new Echo is Australia's first fitness based smartwatch
- — 25 September, 2013 16:00
Magellan claims to have launched the first dedicated smart fitness running watch in Australia, and says the device competes on price with wearable fitness trackers like the Fitbit Flex and Jawbone Up.
The Magellan Echo, available in Australia from early November, is one of the first dedicated fitness watches on the market without a built-in GPS chip. Instead, the watch uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to synchronise with a compatible iPhone, using the GPS chip built into the phone to track details including distance, time, pace and elevation.
At launch, the Magellan Echo watch will be compatible with a number of third-party fitness apps for iOS, including Strava, Wahoo Fitness, MapMyRun, iSmoothRun and Runtastic.
The Echo is primarily designed for running and is targeted at casual users rather than professional athletes, particularly as it requires users to run with their smartphone.
The Echo is priced at $149 as a stand alone watch, or $199 with a bundled heart rate monitor (HRM) accessory. The device is significantly cheaper than most dedicated fitness watches on the market, which are traditionally priced upwards from $200.
Magellan's national sales manager, Paul Saussey, said the Echo is targeted at the low end of the market, but also claims it could be used by athletes for training purposes.
"We are targeting at that low end, and that is average people who go on their lunchbreak run. An elite athlete can have this unit for just a training run when they want to be out with their phone and listen to music at the same time."
"They don't have to worry about charging it, they can just upload their stats to Strava on the way home, it's really straightforward."
"Athletes don't compete with their phones, but they train with their phones, so this product is just as relevant to them from that perspective."
The company says the watch is based on an open API, and therefore expects more and more apps to be compatible with Echo in the future.
Saussey said the relatively low price of the Echo watch means it will compete against casual fitness trackers like the Jawbone Up and the Fitbit Flex, rather than traditional GPS-based fitness watches like the TomTom Multi-Sport ($249).
"What TomTom has just brought out competes against our Switch product, and competes against a number of mid-high end Garmin products. We think this is closer to a Fitbit or a Jawbone Up, as far as price point and as far as our market and who's going to actually use it."
"It's much broader in that sense because obviously it's not about a GPS or a dedicated GPS watch, it's about working with any type of application. We are going to see more and more apps work with Echo in the future."
Magellan says the Echo is the "most customisable smart fitness watch on the market". The device can be setup to view almost all of the stats that any compatible app captures, while the four hard buttons on the sides of the watch can be customised.
Users can also invert the background of the watch face and activate a setting that will keep the backlight on during low light runs.
The Echo is currently only compatible with the iPhone 4S or higher, and will work with Apple's new Phone 5s and iPhone 5c smartphones. The company says it is currently in discussions with Samsung and is hoping to introduce Android compatibility by Christmas.
The Echo is water resistant and can be used in the shower, but it is not fully waterproof and can't be taken swimming. The watch runs on a standard CR2032 watch battery, which Magellan promises will last up to six months before needing to be replaced.
The Magellan Echo will be available in black, tangerine and blue colour variants and is priced at $149. A bundle that includes a Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor will sell for $199.
The watch will be available in early November through major Australian retailers including Harvey Norman, Dick Smith and JB Hi-Fi.