South Korean consumer electronics manufacturer LG bolstered its presence in the wearable tech market with a bang. Not only did it introduce two wearable tech devices at the recent Consumer Electronics Show 2014, but also it released two new devices: LG Lifeband Touch and the Heart Rate Earphones.
The LG Lifeband Touch
The LG Lifeband Touch looks like some of its competitors that are already out in the market: black and sleek. LG, it seems, does not mind the comparison. It copies the open ended design of the Nike+ Fuelband, although it is nowhere as stylish or as pretty. And just like some of its competitors, it is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.
The Lifeband Touch works by using its accelerometer and altimeter. In fact, when you lift your hand, the display lights up automatically. You can also tap or swipe the display to see different types of information. This puts it in the same league as Fitbit Force and Withings Pulse.
Its altimeter and three-axis accelerometer can monitor the number of steps that you have taken, your speed, the distance you’ve traveled, the calories you’ve burned and even an estimate of your pace.
It features a monochrome OLED touch screen and it comes with a button that provides ways to interact with the band. The physical button allows you to scroll through the information you want to see. A single charge can last for five days. You charge it using a separate charging device instead of charging it via a USB charger.
You can use the Lifeband Touch without pairing it with another device and still get the time and battery status information. Hook it up with your smartphone and you can get the alerts and notifications, as well as the ability to control your music playback.
The LG Lifeband Touch has an accompanying app, the LG Fitness App. However, the app acts more as a receiver for the data you collect with the Lifeband Touch, which you can then export to a third-party app.
It uses other mobile apps such as MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper. Instead of coming up with its own fitness app, LG opted to use what is already out there. This can be a boon or a bane to the Lifeband Touch. On one hand, users who are already familiar with these apps will love being able to use something that they are already using. But it severely limits what LG can offer their users.
Heart Rate Earphones
The app can also connect to external heart rate monitors, and this is where the LG Heart Rate Earphones come in. These earphones include sensors that keep track of your heart rate and your oxygen consumption. It then sends these information via Bluetooth to the app.
The LG Lifeband Touch also has features that allow you to use it with your smartphone. These are kept to a minimum, though.
Your Lifeband Touch, for instance, could notify you when you receive a call. It also allows you to control your music just by tapping your wristband and you can get call and text notifications, too.
Pricing and Availability
You will have to wait for LG Lifeband Touch to be released, but, really, it is not much of a wait. LG plans to get the LG Lifeband Touch out in the market during the first half of the year. Pricing information is yet to be released.
The LG Lifeband Touch is water-resistant. But it seems that there is a reason for its open-ended design. It is NOT thoroughly waterproof. You will need to take it off when you take a shower, much more if you go swimming. This means that unlike other fitness bands out there, such as the Sony Core, it does not really keep track of your entire day.
To add to that limitation, the LG Lifeband Touch does not track your sleep patterns and behavior. This is quite surprising because it has an accelerometer, the same mechanism that other fitness bands use to track sleep.
LG has really cut out a lot of features that it could have easily included in the Lifeband Touch. It could technically provide the same functionalities as the Heart Rate Earphones, but it chose to forego on that as well. Even the phone extension functions are not that elaborate, like the ones you see on rival Samsung’s Galaxy Gear.
When it comes to design, there is something wobbly with the Lifeband Touch. The band does not really go all the way around and the screen is much heavier than the rest of the band. This makes the band a little clunky and wobbly. It moves around A LOT and this takes a little getting used to.
The Bottom Line
It is hard to take the LG Lifeband Touch seriously. It would seem that LG could not decide whether to make it into a smartwatch or a smartband. And maybe that is where its charms lie: it is a cross of the good things you can do with a fitness band and the good things you can do with a smart watch.
But you cannot be blamed if LG’s effort feels half-baked. It copies designs from other fitness bands, it relies on third-party apps, and it does not have the functionalities offered by others in the space.
The LG Lifeband Touch would have dominated the market if it had been launched a year or two ago, before all the competition have come out with their own fitness bands.
And because it came late in the picture, LG already had time to see what works and what does not work with other fitness bands. And, mind you, they do a good job of copying what works. However, that would be a double edged sword for LG as the Lifeband Touch does not really have anything that gives it an edge over the competition, such as Fitbit and Nike Fuelband, which are already out in the market.
Still, the Lifeband does provide accurate tracking information for your fitness activities and it does a decent job of extending your phone’s capabilities. If you are looking for a fitness band that you do not have to wear all day and is easy to put on and remove, then this one is for you.