Abhimanyu GhoshalManaging Editor
Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and culture. Hit him up on Twitter, or write in: [email protected].
I’m not a fitness buff by any stretch of the imagination. I loathe gyms, avoid diets like the plague and have no interest in sports. In a way, that makes me a solid candidate to review an activity tracker.
So, over the past few weeks, I’ve been walking and jogging to see how well the Movo Wave tracker works. The company says it’s one of the most affordable trackers available in the US.
It’s right about that: at just $30, the Wave is way cheaper than popular entry-level options like the Misfit Flash ($50), Jawbone Up24 ($130) and the Fitbit Charge ($130).
So what do you get for 30 bucks? A no-frills all-rubber activity tracker with two weeks of battery life that does what it says on the box — nothing less, nothing more.
The Wave only tracks distance, steps and calories burned. It doesn’t track sleep and workouts or grade your performance, and doesn’t wake you with a vibrating alarm. It also doesn’t sync your data over Bluetooth — you’ll need to plug the device into your phone’s headphone jack.
And that’s okay.
The Wave is enough for users who want fuss free cardio tracking. The missing features are nice to have, but they’re aren’t vital for you to start getting into shape.
When it comes to looks, this is as basic as they come — a simple black rubber wristband with a thicker segment on one side. When you unclasp the Wave, it reveals a 3.5mm jack that plugs into your mobile device for downloading data.
The device is nicely packaged in a compact black box that contains it, along with a short USB-to-3.5mm charging cable and two accessory loops.
Once you put the Wave on, you have to attach one of those rubber loops around the top segment to secure it.
That’s the part I dislike — the Wave is basically two pieces, and if you lose the loop, the tracker could slip off your wrist at any time.
That said, I do like the way the Wave looks. The colored accessory loop adds an interesting accent to your outfit. Overall, the device is well made, and doesn’t look cheap despite being an all-rubber device. You can also buy additional loops in sets of five for $5.
The band comes in a range of sizes that you can specify with your order. I can’t tell what size my review piece was, but it fit perfectly and was comfortable to wear through the day. Heck, if it was waterproof, I’d keep it on all the time until I had to download my stats.
The Wave’s companion app for iOS and Android lets you download data from your tracker and displays your activity stats in calendar and graph views.
I like that it lets you add a photo to your daily stats. Unfortunately, it only lets you add pictures from your camera roll; you can’t snap progress selfies from within the app.
The app crashes occasionally and looks a bit clunky. Plus, it includes a couple of inactive tabs labeled Challenges and People. Movo says it will activate those by late spring. Hopefully the update will address those issues.
I tested the app by counting my steps and walking set distances, and then checking the Wave’s readings. When you’re moving, the tracker is pretty much spot-on in its measurements. The margin of error was about two or three steps in each of my tests.
My only gripe is that the app displays distances in miles and doesn’t have an option to switch to kilometers for us folks using the Metric system.
Using the Wave
You don’t need to turn on or reset the Wave to begin tracking, just put it on and you’re ready to go. You might find it a bit annoying to plug in the device to your phone to sync data, but it works without a hitch and doesn’t take long. It comfortably lasts two weeks on a single charge.
I did a few circuits with a friend who sported a Fitbit Charge. I liked being able to get started without having to tap the device to initiate tracking, and didn’t mind the lack of a display or call notifications. After all, I usually have my headphones on and can respond to calls just fine.
Should you buy the Wave?
Movo’s fitness tracker is certainly a great buy at $30, and an excellent choice for first-timers. The device works well and is comfortable enough to wear all day. The only real negative is the companion app. It lacks polish and core features like goal tracking and the ability to share and export stats.
More expensive devices don’t do a whole lot more for the extra cost. Take the Fitbit Charge, for example. For an extra $100, it adds a miniscule display, sleep tracking, wireless syncing and call notifications. I can do without all of those features, especially in exchange for nearly double the battery life.
More advanced – and higher priced – devices like the Microsoft Band and Basis Peak offer a lot more like support for biking and guided workouts, which appeal to fitness enthusiasts. But if you’re trying a fitness tracker for the first time, the Wave is a great way to go choice.
➤ Movo Wave ($30)
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