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Garmin Vivoactive [Review]

Have you ever heard of Lumoid? I may have mentioned it on here before. I know I have shared it on social media before. Anyway, Lumoid lets you order wearables for a home try-on period for just $25. It doesn’t cost you anything for the test if you buy one of the items in the box. I stumbled upon this service a while ago and knew I wanted to try it out. I fully intended to do reviews of the items I received in my first Lumoid shipment, but the trial period was really short and they screwed up and forgot one of the items so I didn’t get the side-by-side comparison I had initially envisioned.

But then it was expanded to a two week trial period and they added even more items, some key ones that I had really (really really) wanted to play with. They way I look at it, even if I don’t buy one of them I still entertained myself for two weeks for the same price as going to the movies.


One of the items that I was excited to try is the Garmin vivoactive. I have wanted to try this watch for quite some time, mainly due to one of the apps that have been released for newer Garmin devices. I wanted to try the app and I wanted to decide if this watch, which retails for about $250, or another model that is $200 more expensive was the direction I wanted to go if I was upgrading my GPS watch.

I was kind of curious about the look of this watch after the pictures I’d seen online. Several of them looked very ugly. But honestly, when I got this one in white and wore it… I didn’t mind the appearance. It’s so thin and lightweight, it was way less intrusive than previous GPS watches I’ve worn and it was actually better than a lot of wrist-based activity trackers.

It’s got a touch screen and it’s kind of fun to swipe and see your calendar or the weather forecast. I found the touch screen responsive in a good way, it didn’t seem to just move to new screens on it’s own but when I intentionally touched the screen to navigate it reacted.


The watch can track lots of different physical activities from the main menu. Run, bike, swim, walk and… golf? Interesting. There is a “Find my phone” function, you can tap that and it will send a signal to your phone and your phone will start chirping until you go find it and turn it off.


It worked perfectly as my GPS watch for running. I had no issues: the satellite connection was always fast, the screen was readable and the information was accurate. I’m going to mention it again… it was so thin and lightweight. GPS watches have come a long way from my first old-school one back in 2008! The battery lasted all week long, even with wearing all day tracking steps, tracking sleep with it and taking it on several GPS-tracked runs. And to charge it was simple, just hold it somewhere in the near vicinity of the charging base and the magnet grabs on right in place. Plug it into USB and you’re all charged up in about an hour.


It also functions as a daily activity and sleep tracker. So this was working in place of my vivofit wristband. I wore it to count the steps of the day. I could wear it comfortably through the night to monitor my sleep patterns. Like nearly any activity tracker, this isn’t something you want to wear with every look, but it worked for my typical casual wear but also with work apparel when I had to go into the office. (I’m a telecommuter, for those who stumble upon this.)

Also, notifications from your phone can show up on this watch. Kind of like the Apple Watch, but kind of not at all like it. Where the Apple device has this elegant “taptic” function for letting you know, this one just has a big buzz. And it gets any and all notifications that come to your phone. You can’t filter and say “Hey, just push my texts to this.” or “Phone call alerts only, alright?” And the buzzing… well, it gets kind of noisy. I sat in a meeting and my coworkers were mocking me because my watch was so noisy. Especially the moment when I got 5 emails in a row and the watch was like BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ. Too much notification going on there.

This watch uses the Garmin Connect IQ platform, which means there are apps to expand the functionality. There are TONS of apps to change the watch faces and for interval timers. I didn’t even have a chance to dig into all of the things available. Their app store needs some help. You access it through the Garmin Connect app on your phone, but it just felt kind of clunky. It wasn’t the best user experience. It felt like it wasn’t really designed for the window size it was presented in.


I have an Octane Fitness Zero Runner at home and I heard there was an app that allowed you to start a run on the Zero Runner, pause it and then continue it outside. Or vice versa. That sounded way cool to me because this summer I have been starting with 2-3 miles inside and then going outside to complete an additional 8ish miles. I liked the idea of tracking that mileage as one cohesive “package”. Sadly, the app never panned out for me. It never seemed to talk to my Zero Runner. My Zero Runner can connect to the Octane app on my iPad just fine, so I don’t think it was an issue of my Zero Runner not having functional connectivity. And the vivoactive talked to my phone just fine in their native apps. I am pretty sure it was app flaws.


Since the app connectivity for the Zero Runner was the main reason I was flirting with the idea of getting a new watch right now, this may have saved me from dishing out the money. For now… I actually found myself missing the watch quite a bit after I had to send it back. If they release a version 2, I may find myself drawn back to it. Especially if it had wrist-based heart rate monitoring. But I don’t know how that would mess it up as a daily wear device.

So the simple recap of the device:

– It’s noisy when it buzzes you with notifications.
– The variety of watch faces available are cool.
– It’s pretty good as an activity tracker, even if you wouldn’t want to wear it with a really nice outfit.
– It’s excellent as a GPS watch.
– The app for Zero Runner connectivity kind of sucks!
– The interface for the Connect IQ store is clunky.

And in the two weeks since I sent it back, I’ve missed it!

Since it’s come to this point, I have to make disclaimers on stuff I’ve paid for myself now too. So I purchased this box from Lumoid with no kickbacks or suggestions from any company that was represented in my box of goodies. All opinions posted on the site are my own. Oh… and I bought the Zero Runner myself too, since I’ve been questioned about that online too!

MilestonePod [Device & App Review]

I was sent a MilestonePod to review recently, this came at the moment that I was switching over to using my Skechers running shoes more. I knew they had 20 miles on them from my earlier testing, but I have been dreadful at keeping track of mileage on my shoes in general. It’s like the compartment in my brain that can remember to document that data just disappeared after I had a baby – 3 years ago. That function has not been restored.


So let’s back up… at first glance MilestonePod is just a doohickey that attaches to your shoes and can keep track of the mileage you’ve put on a pair. And it’s great to have that task just taken care of for you. You go for a run then the MilestonePod can communicate with an app so you have that mileage data on your phone.

The device/app combo promised a lot of cool benefits right out of the box: measuring distance/pace/cadence/stride length. Mileage tracking. No buttons to push, it just starts and stops automatically.


You can use it to get a general idea of your run distance/pace if you don’t want a GPS device.  The information isn’t as precise, this run was actually 3.4 miles so the MilestonePod was a little generous. But that also made my average pace a little faster, which is a nice ego stroking!


If you tap on the screen you get further details into your run. It tells you what percent of the run you were a heel striker, midfoot striker or toe striker. It tells you your average cadence, best cadence and a tip about the ideal for that metric. (It’s said that 180spm is ideal for runners.) You get info on stance time (the average amount of time your foot is on the ground), rate of impact, stride length, leg swing and grants you a “runficiency” score. Basically it’s generated from combining several elements and then grading you. I think it’s on a scale of 100.

So I’m going to share my results with you and explain what I thought worked well, what made me mad and what is awesome. I almost didn’t upload this, it feels like exposing myself to you! LOL!


Run Details:
Again, these are a little off from my GPS numbers.

This made me angry. I have had my form evaluated a few different places and I’m always told I have a midfoot strike. I’m running in Skechers that have a rounded midfoot plate that encoruages a midfoot strike. So why does this silly thing think I’m hitting on my heel?!

I have always had a pretty good cadence. I am usually in the 180-190 range and this just validated that.

Stance Time:
This is one that I’m unsure of. I chose that as my “insight” to focus on for a bit. Perhaps I need to improve this, perhaps not. I had runs that improved and runs that declined from my baseline measurement with the pod/app.

Rate of Impact:
At least I don’t have a high impact rate, but perhaps improving that stance time would lower the impact rate. Hmmm…

Stride Length:
I don’t know what I’m going to do with this information, but I have it now and I feel a little better knowing a number. 😉

Leg Swing:
I’m always in the mid range on this. So there’s that.

So I’m a B student in the school of running? My perfectionist, Type A brain can’t handle that. But my logical side looks at it and says, “Okay.”

In the app settings, there is an Insights panel. This is where you can choose on one of the “Insights” to focus your energy and work on improvement. My initial instinct was “All of them. I want to check all of them.” But it doesn’t let you do that. It’s kind of a “Patience Grasshopper” thing… So I marked stance as my Insight focus.


After a run you open the app, make sure the pod is nearby and run the sync. All of your run data will transfer to the app, the pod will check for a firmware update every single time, you’ll find out how much battery life you have left. (My brand new, out of the box battery had 77% battery life. Just thought that was interesting.) And the second your info hits the app, you receive an email with your stance tip of the day. This was a good day, I’d improved.  The tips are kind of generic and I don’t know if they are really tailored to improving that metric or not. I’m going to change my Insight focus to something different to see if it gives me different information.

Example email from Milestone Pod regarding your focus insight

The Pod is weather-resistant and is good for walkers or runners. (I refuse to acknowledge that they include another category on their site for “joggers”.) I think it’s a little bit big, it would be nice if they get it scaled down to a slimmer profile. I will adjust it move it closer to the front of my shoe to see if it stops thinking I’m a heel striker. Or put it on a different pair of shoes. Worth experimenting!

The MilestonePod retails for about $24.95 or you can pick one up on Amazon for $21.20 (aff link) right now. If you get a new pair of shoes, just move this on to them and reset the data.

Omron Alvita Wireless Activity Tracker [Review]

I like wearable tech… I think that’s abundantly obvious if you follow me on any social channels. Or have read this site. Or know me in person. Or all of the above. So when I was asked if I wanted to receive an Omron Alvita to review I was excited to take a look!


So this tracker is a small device that you can clip on to yourself, or simply drop it in your pocket. It doesn’t require you to wear it on your wrist like many trackers out there. But it’s also very simple, it doesn’t track sleep like some devices. No notifications or extra bells/whistles. This is essentially a souped-up pedometer.


That’s not to say it doesn’t do that well… it functions very well in that regard. It gathers your steps as you move about your day. It resets itself each night so you don’t have to push any buttons to clear out the previous day. And it uses Bluetooth to talk with an app on your phone where you can store charts/graphs of your daily/weekly/monthly/yearly progress. It gives you an estimate of calories burned and distance traveled while wearing it.

It comes with the battery and two different back covers. One cover has a clip and the other is just smooth for carrying it in your pocket. The backs are very easy to change out as needed.


And I would definitely recommend changing it out if you’re not clipping it on to yourself. The device is small, but the clip is huge. At least, it feels huge in relationship to the actual tracker. And it is a little uncomfortable if you catch the clip at the wrong angle. Another downside of the clip is that it doesn’t seem to open very wide so clipping it on is a little tough on denim or thicker fabrics.


The other quirk was getting the screen to display your steps taken. The instructions tell you to shake it 2-3 times, but it kind of takes a good violent shaking to get the screen to wake up. Once it’s awake it’s easy to just tap on the screen to cycle through your steps, calories, distance and time of day. If you just leave it alone the screen will turn off after about 20 seconds, but you can just rest your finger on the screen for 2-3 seconds and that will turn off the display.

It syncs to the OmronFitness app and that performed reliably in all of my testing. I tapped sync in the app and it connected right away. Using the app you can keep all of your historical data… unlimited amounts of data. The tracker itself only holds 14 days of data, but combined with the app you can see a broad range of how you are moving over time.

Don’t judge, I forgot to put it on before I ran that morning and remembered to put it on for a productive day of sitting at a desk!

Tapping on any of the measurements in the app will open up an option to set a goal for it. So I tweaked this day and said my goal was 2000 steps just to see what it would do. Every step beyond the goal level was highlighted as yellow and I had a little medal hanging from the top as my reward for surpassing the goal. Hooray!

Wait… did I just advocate fudging your numbers?


I’d like to see the clip overhauled on future versions of this device, but I like the simplicity of the device. It works well and isn’t trying to deliver on too much. I think this would be a cool gift for someone who wants to move a little more and has a smartphone but isn’t necessarily a gadget-fiend. For a real data nerd or techie, it might be too basic to suit their taste!

Prices are all over the place online, on Omron’s own site it says the device is $45, but on Amazon you can snag it for $23. You can also find it in Walgreens stores.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.


Pivotal Living Tracker [Review]

A while back I was sent an activity tracker wristband by Pivotal Living. The coolest thing about this tracker is the price.


Yeah… you read that right. I’m not missing any digits in that. It’s really only $12. (as of this post, at least!) The way it works is you pay the $12 and get: the tracker, charging cable, 12-month membership to Pivotal Living for access to goal setting and motivational tips. The app is free. At the end of your 12-month membership, you have the chance to renew and get the new generation of the tracker band.

The app is kind of the brains behind the unit, so I’ll dig into that first. The dashboard is the first thing you see upon opening the app. It will display your progress in the various areas it tracks, from steps to activity, from sleeping to drinking (water = hydration tracking! 😉 )


You can tap on the circle items in the dashboard and get more detailed information about each metric. Tapping on sleep will show you a graph of the ups/downs of your sleep overnight, I think the spikes downward are awake moments… which seems a little counter-intuitive to me. But each detailed metric gives you information for that specific day and then the average over the past seven days.


I don’t track calories or water consumption. So I tried turning those off in the goals, but they still show up on the dashboard. But in the Edit Goals section you can edit your sleep, hydration, activity, steps, weight and calories burned goals. It’s a simple on/off switch and then entering a value.


Back on the dashboard, you will see a Band entry that shows you your battery status as of the last sync. If you tap on that, the more detailed edits you can make are in terms of steps goal and alarm clocks. You can set a different alarm time for each day of the week and the band will silently vibrate to wake you. There’s even a setting for “Intelligent Awakening” that will wake you during your lightest sleep around your chosen wake time. There is also an activity reminder setting; you can turn this off or have it buzz you at regular intervals to remind you to get up and move.

I loved the vibration for waking, but I wished I could set alarms a little more like the iPhone alarm clock. It would be nice to specify every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday to wake at the same time, instead of having to set the slider for each day individually. Not a big deal, just a little thing that could maybe use a little user interface tweaking. The activity reminder disappointed me, though; I kept trying to set it for a 60-minute reminder. And each time it kept resetting to every 20 minutes. I can’t get up from my desk every 20 minutes. I have meetings, and I think it would look weird to those at the other end of my video conference if I just stood up and started marching in place to tell my tracker I’m active. But I also found it annoying when my wrist started buzzing while I was in meetings too. “Hey, it’s too soon for you to be bugging me! Pipe down!”


If you have a group of friends who are all using the Pivotal Living app, you can create teams and encourage each other to reach goals.

As for the band itself, it seems pretty well made, and I didn’t have any problems with the clasp seeming loose. The one issue that I did have with it was the size. It’s kind of rigid and doesn’t adjust down enough; my dinky little wrists had extra room on the smallest setting.


I frequently found the steps tracked to be a couple hundred off from the Garmin vivofit I wore at the same time during my testing phase. I don’t know if this is due to the tracker band being a little big for my wrist or just the nature of the device. However, I don’t think that’s a deal breaker. The reality is for regular tracking, you pick one device and go with it; comparing the day-to-day you gathered from that device, not numbers from different devices on different days.

Also, they recommend on the site you carry your phone with you. It will work in tandem with your phone to create an even more accurate picture, but I set my phone down during the day. When I’ve used phone-based trackers, I start to behave strangely and awkwardly carry my phone when I wouldn’t usually hold it just to make sure I get my steps counted. That’s the beauty of having something you wear… you don’t have to schlep the phone around on your person for every little movement. #amirite?

Overall I think this is a solid little entry into the tracking market, mainly because it has a lot of versatile features for an everyday user. And the price point can’t be beaten! If you’re looking for a tracker without a big entry price, Pivotal Living is a good one. If it weren’t for the large band size, I would say it would be a good one to get a kid playing with those numbers and thinking about activity/movement. And if you get one, decide it’s not for you… you may gift it to someone, and they get a 12-month free membership from that point!

I received the Pivotal Living tracker band and membership free for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received, and this post contains my honest opinions on the device.