Magellan Echo sports watch
Wearable technology gets sporty
- Simple and functional design
- Interfaces well with fitness apps
- Uses button battery
- No Android support
The Magellan Echo may not stand out as a watch or a fitness tracker, but the device’s real value is in how it combines these features into a single, functional package.
Price$ 149.00 (AUD)
With devices such as the Fitbit growing in popularity, there seems to be a convergence between health and technology taking place. At the same time, smart watches such as the Galaxy Gear are starting to show up. GPS manufacturer Magellan aims to merge both functions with its Echo smart running watch.
Slippery when wet
The Echo is a rubberised watch with a monochrome LCD display. The exterior is reminiscent of the Casio G-Shock watch, with a simple circular design to the watch face and a wide wrist strap design.
The smart watch comes in three colours, orange, blue and black. The first two come with white accents around the watch face, while the latter is entirely black.
The watch face is 1in in size with a resolution of 128x128 pixels. The colour scheme of the screen can be inversed, so you can either have black text on a white background, or vice versa.
The rubberised design of the watch not only makes it durable, but also ensures it is resistant to water. The Echo will survive excessive sweat and even rain, but it is not water proof and therefore it is not suited for swimming.
Like a regular watch, the Echo runs on a button battery, which Magellan expects will last for six months on average. The choice of a button battery is an interesting one, as most devices these days come with inbuilt batteries that can be recharged.
Partnering on fitness
The Echo functions as a basic watch, displaying the time and date, but its real value is in interfacing with your mobile device and the fitness apps you may have installed. Popular apps such as Strava, Wahoo Fitness, iSmoothRun and MapMyRun are already compatible with the watch, with more expected in the future.
Your smartphone will track your workout distance and time as it normally would, but this information will also be shared on the Echo. In the past you may have had to stop and pull your smartphone out of your pocket to see your progress, but the Echo enables you to gain this information with a quick glance at your wrist without interrupting your workout.
The watch comes with four plastic buttons, two on each side. These buttons are used to control various functions of an active app, such as start, stop, and lap. The music player on your smartphone can also be controlled via these buttons, ensuring that you don’t need to touch your phone unless it is to answer emails or calls.
The watch face is large and clear, and it was readable even in strong lighting conditions. In low light situations, the backlight can be activated, though it will only drain the battery quicker.
An Apple experience
The Echo may seem like a simple device on the surface, but its use of the latest Bluetooth 4.0 standard limits its compatibility with newer smartphones, including Apple devices as of the iPhone 4S, fifth generation iPod and iPad third generation.
Android devices are currently not supported, though Magellan expects support to be added in the near future. Even so, the lack of Android compatibility means that users of popular smartphones such as Samsung Galaxy and Sony Xperia miss out.
The Echo had no problem interfacing with Wahoo Fitness and MapMyRun installed on a test iPhone 5 unit. Once the Echo synched with the phone, it was a simple matter of entering all of the relevant fitness information before getting started on a workout.
Controlling the iPhone's music player was quite easy with the Echo's side buttons. Simple commands such as play/pause and skip track are controllable from the fitness watch, but you'll need to access the phone directly if you want to do more complicated actions such as changing play lists.
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