Magellan launches $150 Echo ‘smart running watch’

Check out our review of the Magellan Echo smart fitness watch.

While the likes of Apple and Google apparently continue to take their time with the development of their rumored smartwatches, a slew of other companies aren’t hanging around, hoping to beat the rush of high-tech wrist-based devices expected to hit the market in the next 12 months or so.

The sector is, however, already beginning to get a little crowded, with GPS navigation company Magellan the latest to join the club.

Its Echo device, which this week starts shipping in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, with a global release coming soon, is aimed at sports fanatics – the ones that move their bodies and sweat rather than those who follow such pursuits on TV from the safety of a comfy sofa.

The water-resistant device, which comes in three colors (black, blue, and orange) and retails for US$150, streams data in real time from a number of mobile fitness apps, allowing you to monitor your activity and progress at a glance.

“With support from leading apps Strava, MapMyRun, iSmoothRun, and Wahoo Fitness, Echo makes running with your favorite fitness app better,” Clark Weber, senior director of fitness products at Magellan, said in a release this week. “Echo puts app data and notifications where you can see them on your wrist, and its controls allow you to interact with both the app and music. For the first time, runners can easily communicate and interact with their favorite app.”

Connecting to your iPhone or iPod Touch (Android compatibility coming soon) via low-energy Bluetooth Smart technology, the device shows data such as distance covered, time, pace, and heart rate, and also acts as a remote for various smartphone functions such as start, stop or lap on a fitness app, and next song, play and pause on a music playlist. Control comes via four customizable buttons, two on each side of the watch face.

echo_epecsA coin battery provides power, which Magellan says will last at least six months, so you won’t have to worry about the device going dead just as you’re about to hit a new PR on that marathon run.

While some may be disappointed that it’s not a standalone device, its good looks and reasonable price, and the fact that it already has support from a number of fitness apps, may result in many fitness folk giving the Echo a go.

Fitness-based wearable gadgets are a fast-growing market, with sportswear giant Adidas, for example, recently launching the $400 standalone Smart Run watch, featuring a 1.45-inch, 184 x 184 color touchscreen and 4GB of storage.

Get our Top Stories delivered to your inbox: