Tech Review: 30 Days with the iFit Classic
The iFit Classic is a new activity monitor offering from iFit and is really meant to offer a different take on fitness tracking. It eschews all the trappings of other activity monitors like touch-screens, digital displays, and heart rate monitoring, in favor of classic watch styling. I spent the last 30 days checking out the iFit Classic and I think it’s a good window of time to really be able to judge its utility and usefulness and wanted to report back. We did pick the iFit Classic our holiday gift guide as you might remember, but we thought a more thorough review would be appropriate.
What’s Included and Setup
The iFit Classic comes in a well-designed package that shows off the watches features, its basically continual reinforcement that the key to the Classic is really its simplicity. What’s included is just as minimal as the box includes the watch itself and a USB charging cable that has a dock for the watch.
Setting up the device is amazingly simple, you download the iFit app to your iPhone or Android device, setup an account and sync. The app setup itself was stupidly simple. My iFit Classic paired instantly and I literally had to do nothing except create an account and set some daily goals which were already pre-populated for me based on my height and weight. Hit save and syncing took less than a few seconds. I’ll talk more about the app in a minute, but first we need to talk more about the watch itself.
Design and Usability
The iFit Classic is all about simplicity. It’s about stepping back from the digital movement and about having a more stylish watch interface to your daily activities. Basically it’s about creating something attractive and utilitarian that anyone can use. It is most definitely not designed to be something that’s going to track your hard-core runs. That being said many recreational athletes could use this without a problem for shorter/simpler runs, but for more advanced athletes, it’s simply something you may only wear during the day. Using the Classic is quite simple and in fact probably where it gets its highest points. On the display aside from the analog watch arms you have three gauges on the watch which represent your steps, your calories, and your net. All day the Classic is tracking your steps in simple thousand meter increments which you can see on his mobile you can use the buttons to include calories in 100 or 252nd and at the top you’ll see a net that takes the calories against your steps to produce How you’re doing on the day of the whole. Alternatively you can use the app to input the data in more detail as well including additional recreational activities like actual run you may have logged on your running watch or cycling computer. You can also log more detailed nutritional data via that as well. I found myself doing it both ways and the calorie input is quite simple and I found it to be A good way to quickly put in some calories without needing to be real precise being 40 or 50 off onto per meal basis especially when you’re active is not gonna kill you.
The next part with usability is notifications and the Classic does not transmit the notifications from your phone like an incoming call or a text message to your wrist, it’s all about movement tracking. You get a light buzz on your wrist when you are sedentary and it does a really good job of noticing when you are stagnant and getting you to move. You can also use this feature as an alarm, which I find it works really well when you want to get up in the morning.
Battery Life and Charging
The battery on this works really well and I’m always a little remiss about repeating the time provided to me by manufacturers in terms of how long it should last, but I found on a normal basis taking a few days between charges with no problem whatsoever. I do get in the habit of charging it when I’m out on a run with my other watch and find that it’s already ready to go by the time I get back. If it’s totally dead, then you are talking about a few hours or more to charge so letting it run overnight is more then enough.
Daily Use Report
So how does it perform and how do I use it you might be asking? I used the iFit Classic as my daily watch and in that I mean it was the watch I went to work in and the watch I wear to a dinner and the watch I wear when I’m with friends. I find it looks good and is not ostentatious or digitally annoying and I actually like the fact that I’m not getting a ton of crap coming into my wrist. I am normally an Apple watch user and honestly their constant reminders which don’t seem to be tied to standing as well as the other notifications are just frustrating and annoying. The iFit Classic gave me what I wanted including the time and still looked good. When it came time for a workout, I switched out for my Garmin and used that for running, cycling, and swimming. After completing those activities, I would then log that data in the iFit application which would then update my watch appropriately.
The iFit Application
So it all seemed sunny and roses, but there must be an issue you are thinking. In this case the problem point is the iFit app for the iPhone. It’s not bad, but the last thing we all need is another fitness application. The problem is that I already use a lot of other applications to log data and the iFit app is a really challenging and cumbersome way to do it. First, they need to hook to third-party services and import the data from your other activities. When I say that I mean attaching to Strava or Runkeeper or Garmin Connect or any of the other services that are out there. The primary issue is I can’t log the depth of activity data that I need to in order to properly complete my daily routine. As an example, if I ride for an hour, the iFit application assumes a certain caloric output from effort based on time/height/weight. It doesn’t take into account the heart rate, VO2, or the effort that it took to do that ride. This means calories logged for all of those activities are usually a few hundred off from what it actually is. So when I ran this morning and my Garmin show approximate calorie burn up at 850, the iFit app will return a calorie burn of about 565 and I can’t change it. This is a major drawback in the caloric net deficit data which is the whole point of using the application and a movement tracker. It is easy to fix. When you get off the treadmill you can look at the screen and see the caloric burn, then it would be great to be able to input all the data manually or adjust what they did.
Next we look at nutrition and for me, this part of the app actually feels broken. They’re certain elements of the views that you can’t even interact with. Now I am a little jaded because I work with technology on a daily basis and I’m more aware of it, but not being able to tap on the barcode from the main screen is a giant oversight. I figured out a workaround by going a step deeper, but low and behold a lot of foods aren’t showing up under search. The resolution for this goes back to my number one which is all about hooking up third-party services. MyFitnessPal is a great food logger and there are others as well, but more importantly is the database of the food data services. The one inside of the iFit app feels half-baked and there are many foods that I simply cannot find within the app. So it definitely needs a better database behind the nutrition in order to see the correct data. Basically, the app needs to produce results.
All that said, syncing to the watch is perfect. This is what it hurts most other services and iFit has nailed it. When I open the app, it connects to the watch instantly and it’s that simple. I have struggled with every other watch from Fitbit to Garmin to Suunto and none of them seem to have mastered a consistent level of Bluetooth connectivity, but they have nailed this aspect so if we improve the data then the output is all that much better.
UPDATE: After speaking directly with the folks at iFit, I wanted to amend this a bit. There is something better coming and something fills this gap. It’s an app that connects the iFit device ecosystem and does away with a lot the comments I had originally. In fact, its what we like to think of as game changer and makes the entire iFit lineup incredibly compelling. More to come on that, but basically… throw the app away when this new version shows up.
The iFit Classic is a solid activity tracker. It’s got a classic aesthetic that a lot of people will find appealing and its just enough information and notification to make it an effective tool for daily tracking. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles and that makes it perfect for what it is. It’s not meant to be the GPS tracker for your run, it’s meant to tell you to get off your butt and move throughout the day. It’s meant to be an attractive and simple timepiece that gives you that extra little bit of information you need to do some self assessment. The app on the other hand needs a lot of work and I don’t think it’s insurmountable and the great part is it’s an app, so they can update it. Bottom line, the iFit Classic is great and while app needs work, it will get better.
The iFit Class is available in black or white for $199.