Monday, May 28, 2018

The Garmin Fenix 5

I just finished my first duathlon. The hot sun beating down, the exhaustion, the cramping muscles, the dehydration... I wouldn’t exchange any of those if it meant not being able to participate in the duathlon. And yeah, only serious people would participate in such an event - the duathlon is not for the faint of heart. In the third part of a run-bike-run event, my legs were already cramping that I was forced to walk majority of the 3km event. But despite the pain I was determined to finish the course. It would have been more painful to not finish the 6km run - 27km bike - 3km run course. Not finishing was not an option. And, as I neared the finish line, I decided to give it one last push: I wanted to be seen jogging on video, not hobbling in pain. And the Garmin Fenix 5 was with me the whole way.

During the course, the Garmin Fenix 5 was prompting me were my heart rate was: it was telling me that I was already at the 75% of my maximum heart rate, at 95%, even when I got to 110% of my maximum heart rate. I also wore a chest strap heart rate monitor that’s connected to my bike computer and the heart rate reading of the two devices were fairly consistent.

I was so happy also that, for my first duathlon, I was able to use the Fenix 5. With its multi-sport mode transitioning from the run to the bike and back to the run were very easy. I didn’t need to stop and start the app on my watch - something that I would have been required to do if I still used my previous watch - I just needed to press the lap button and I’m off to the next part of the event. The transition part is also included in the duathlon app and the time I spent in the transition wasn’t included in the overall time of my accomplishment.

It was a really sunny morning with no cloud in sight but I wasn’t worried even if I was suddenly caught in a downpour. The Fenix 5’s water resistance would fend of any rain easily. Actually, even if I decided to take it swimming up to 100 meters deep, the Fenix 5 would be fine.

The Garmin Fenix 5 is a sizable watch. No one will be able to mistake this for a small watch. (More so the Fenix 5X!)m However, it was still a very comfortable watch to wear. I didn’t think it was too heavy nor too large. For me, the size of the Fenix 5 is just right and the weight and heft of the watch didn’t bother me at all especially during my run.

GPS tracking was spot on and the path the I ran and biked really hugged the roads. Well, considering the duathlon happened on an essentially open space helped the GPS tracking very much. However, If I ran on my neck of the woods, so to speak, the buildings mar the area and GPS mapping could be slightly off.

However, for me, the thing that makes the Garmin Fenix 5 a truly super sports watch are the data you get after an event. When you stop sports tracking, say a run, the watch will give you a lot of data about the run. For example, it will tell you whether your run was a productive one or not. This is because you may be overtraining (you are not having enough recuperation time) and you are doing more harm than good to your body. You will also be told what is your performance condition, a metric that tells you about your “ability to perform compared to your average fitness level”. This performance condition may also be a symptom of fatigue...

And speaking of fatigue, the Fenix 5 will also tell how much time to recover! In the case of my last duathlon, it told me that the next intense exercise that I should do should be 4 days after the said event. Otherwise, I only should do really light exercises, one that really doesn’t elevate my heart rate.

Well, I didn’t exercise at all and just did some “normal” pace walking!

Under the beating sun, the display of the Fenix 5 was very much visible. Ironically, when indoors and when you use the watch’s backlight, the display gets washed out... This watch is really meant to be used outdoors!

On the night before the event, I hardly was able to sleep because of all the excitement. And since the Fenix 5 also tracks sleep automatically, the device showed how much I slept. Unfortunately, I think the Fenix 5 is not as good as other devices in sleep tracking. For example, say I get up to, ahem, pee at 5am, go back to sleep and then finally rise at 6:30am, when I sync the watch with the iOS app, the app shows that I didn’t go back to sleep after 5am. So, I had to edit the app entry so as to get a more precise sleep measurement.

Also, sleeping with a biggish watch is something that takes some getting used to…

But, the good thing is, the Fenix 5 is more precise in measuring my resting heart rate, something that is comparable to the Apple Watch and to my Omron BP monitor. Another brand of fitness tracker that I am using overestimates my resting heart rate, something that I told the company about but something that they chose to ignore...

The battery life of the Fenix 5 is really good! In my 2.5 hours of duathlon, the battery was deducted only less than 10% of battery life. That’s a GPS activity mind you! So, by ratio and proportion, the GPS life of the Fenix 5 will round to 25 hours, something that is advertised in the Garmin website! The battery life in watch mode is rated at two weeks, though, because of my activities, I usually charge the Fenix 5 after every 8-9 days. Still not bad at all!

The Garmin Fenix 5 came at a very opportune time. Good thing I had it right before my Duathlon.

The Garmin Fenix 5 is highly, highly recommended!

Keep the conversation going! Contact me via my Twitter or Facebook account. You may also email me here!

Want to get the latest and greatest gadgets? Check out and sign up so you can be an owner of the latest gadget that you desire!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Fitbit Ionic Review

When I got the Fitbit Ionic, I got so fascinated by this fitness tracker that I decided to run even if I wasn’t scheduled to. You see, I got the tracker before the wife and I went out of town and, when we arrived in Iloilo, one of my favorite towns outside of Metro Manila, I was so happy to find out that the city has dedicated running and cycling tracks. You see, I was already done with my runs for the week (my training requires me to run three times a week) but because of the Ionic, I decided to squeeze in one more run. Ok, I squeezed in two more runs.

That is how much I liked this new smartwatch. And yes, this is a smartwatch, with smart capabilities. More on that later.

The Ionic measures your typical fitness metrics like your steps (of course), floors climbed, active minutes, calories burned and quality of sleep. Of course, these can also be done by my most favorite fitness tracker, the Charge 2, but the Ionic has one over the Charge 2: GPS.

You see, the Ionic has a GPS antenna and you can track your runs and bike rides (and hikes) with it. I’ve tested the GPS tracking feature and, if you are in a place that is relatively devoid of buildings and tall trees, then you will get a precise map of your activities. However, when I ran on my usual track, I once again got a map that shows as if I’ve jumped over tall buildings in a single bound.

GPS is rated at 10 hours and I got roughly that much out of the battery. Fitbit says the Ionic’s battery will last for 5 days but because of my fitness activities, I need to recharge about every three days or so. Of course, your charging frequency may vary depending on your usage.

Oh, the Ionic has another feature that the Charge 2 doesn’t have. Well, only a few fitness trackers and smart watches actually have this feature anyway: music storage! You see, you can store about 300 songs in to it. Then, just pair your favorite bluetooth headphones and you are good to go! No need to bring a phone in your next 42k run!

However, storing your music is not as straightforward as I would like. On a Mac, you need to make your playlist on iTunes and your Ionic and your Mac must be in the same WiFi network. Of course, your music must not be licensed, otherwise your songs will not play on the Ionic. Then, you need to download Fitbit Connect on your Mac. Then, connect your Ionic to its charger and in the Fitbit Connect app on the Mac, click “Manage My Music”... Yeah, it’s complicated...

(If you’re in the US, then you can download your most played station into the Ionic. Well, that is, if you have a paid subscription...)

Anyway, if you cannot be away from your phone, then you can use the Ionic to play, pause, advance or change volume of the music playing on your phone.

Aside from your basic running, cycling and hiking (and some indoor exercises like treadmill, elliptical and weight training), you can take this Ionic swimming! You see, this is the first Fitbit with a display that you can take swimming! I also have the Flex 2 and I am in awe of how it can automatically detect when I go swimming, considering that I am a terrible swimmer! But with the Ionic, you can set swimming as one of your favorite exercises and it will automatically detect your stroke and the distance of your swim (in laps) for you. As of this writing, I still haven’t taken the Ionic swimming so I can’t tell how it performs in the water. (I will update this post once I do swim with it.) But what I can tell you is that there is no GPS tracking when you go swimming so you cannot take this in open water swimming and expect to make a GPS map of your exercise.

Sleep tracking is another thing that the Ionic can do for you and you don’t have to do anything to activate it. You just wear your Fitbit to bed and it will automatically know when you have fallen asleep. For me, that functionality seems like magic! Also, with the Ionic, I have found out that I am not getting enough sleep and the quality is not that good, so I better stay off caffeine especially from mid-afternoon to evening. (To take things further, Fitbit said that, in a future OS update, they will be able to detect sleep apnea using the Ionic. As of this writing however, that feature is still not live.)

Part of the smartwatch functionality of the Ionic is alerting you to certain notifications. Notifications such as caller ID, text messages, calendar alerts can be pushed to the Ionic. However, you obviously could not, say, take a call in the device. You still need to answer the call on your phone, something that the Apple Watch straight up can do. Another smartwatch feature is being able to pay stores with your watch. However, this functionality is not available in the Philippines so I have no way of testing this out.

And what is a smartwatch without apps?!? There are already a number of first and third party apps available on the Ionic app store which you can access via the Fitbit smartphone app. There, you can select then choose to install the app on your watch. So far, my most favorite apps are Strava and HRPacing. Strava is already well known but HRPacing is an app that measures your heart rate and it changes color depending on what heart rate zone you are in.

Speaking of Strava, you can configure your Fitbit to push your workouts to the third party app. When, say you finish a run, you can then sync your Ionic to the smartphone app and, after sometime, you will get a notification from Strava saying that your workout is ready. Then, you can view your workout in Strava and see your PR or, in the case of cycling, if you are KOM (King of the mountain)! That is really neat!

With the Ionic, you can change the clock face that you want to see. There are a bunch made by Fitbit itself and there are a host of others made by third party developers. You can choose to your heart’s content, whether you want to see a lot of data at a glance or whether you just want one kind of data showing. Both the apps and the faces can either come for free or for a small amount of money.

But so far, as far as faces are concerned, my favorite has got to be Fitbit Labs! You can choose from several cute “pets” and you feed them with steps! Way to gamefy step counting!!! When you walk, you are essentially taking the pet walking with you! And you “feed” the cat by getting 10% of your goal. Which is a tall order for me since my daily goal is 14,000 steps so I have to walk 1,400 steps at least 8 times to keep the cat, in my case, fed!!! If you don’t feed it enough, then “the cat will leave”… Oh my! I am gonna get a lot of steps because of this…

Is there something that I wish added to the Ionic? Well, there is no multi-sport mode available. I am training for a short duathlon (yes, as I’ve said, I’m a crappy swimmer) and I wish there is an exercise mode dedicated for this. So what I do is, in transition 1, stop the running exercise, press done, then start the cycling app, wait for the GPS antenna to kick in even if I have just stopped the running exercise, then do my biking. This is such a tedious process… I wish that Fitbit will add this functionality in a future OS update…

The Fitbit Ionic is now my most favorite Fitbit to date. It has surpassed the Charge 2 as my most favorite. And, the 5 days stand-by time and 10 hours GPS have made this my most favorite fitness smartwatch! As a matter of fact, I have used my Apple Watch less since I got this Ionic… That is how much I love the Ionic!

The Fitbit Ionic is Highly Recommended!!!

Keep the conversation going! Contact me via my Twitter or Facebook account. You may also email me here!

Want to get the latest and greatest gadgets? Check out and sign up so you can be an owner of the latest gadget that you desire!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Beats Powerbeats 3 Wireless Review

Last January 1, you made a resolution to exercise more, to be more active… But as most resolutions go, you found yourself being less and less active and doing more and more … eating… Now that the regret of eating all of those lechon kawali, kalamay and puto bungbong has started to sink in, it’s time to follow up on the New Year’s resolution that you said you were gonna do.

And yes, you need to motivate yourself if you wanna lose those unwanted flab. And to help keep you motivated, let me introduce you to the Dre Beats Powerbeats 3 wireless.

As the name implies, this is a pair of Bluetooth wireless earphones that you can bring to the gym or to your next 5 kilometer run. It is a pair of wireless earphones that are designed to take a beating, so even if you got caught in strong rain, or if you sweat buckets, the thing will survive! Just don’t take it swimming!

This latest Apple earphones (just in case you’ve been living under a rock, Beats is now owned by Apple) has the company-made W1 chip inside. This chip is great at making the earphone efficient, thus, the battery inside the Powerbeats 3 will last 12 hours on a single charge. So yeah, the earphone’s battery will outlast the Taylor Swift album you have on your iPhone. You know you have that... And don’t worry if the battery goes flat. Charge the Powerbeats 3 for 5 minutes and you get 1 hour of battery life. That maybe is enough to outlast your combined cardio and weights sessions.

As to be expected from Beats, the Powerbeats 3 sounds very nice. And since this is a Beats product, bass is on the high end though not as overpowering as Beats from previous lines. The Powerbeats 3 is great for listening to all kinds of music, from Classical music to Heavy Metal. As I’ve said, the lows and bass, as well as the mids are clear, though the highs are on the quiet side. This pair of earphones is even great for watching movies on your other i-devices and computers, even your Apple Watch.

Sound isolation is not as great as other in-ear earphones, so, I’m sad to say that the grunts of the muscled person next to you, the one you are trying to emulate, won’t be as muted.

With the W1 chip, once you paired the Powerbeats 3 to, say, an iPhone, then it will be recognized by all of your Apple devices that are logged in to the same iCloud account. That’s very convenient if you have an iPhone, an Apple Watch, a MacBook Pro,... And fret not if you are an Android phone user, you still can use the Powerbeats 3 but the paring process for each device wouldn’t be as seamless.

The Dre Beats Powerbeats 3 is a must have if you want to make your next gym session a lot more palatable.

It is highly recommended!

Keep the conversation going! Contact me via my Twitter or Facebook account. You may also email me here!

Want to get the latest and greatest gadgets? Check out and sign up so you can be an owner of the latest gadget that you desire!