CES 2017 was officially underway and after a year of rumors and false starts, athletics company New Balance has finally unveiled their runner-oriented fitness tracker. Called the RunIQ, this Android-based smartwatch works for anyone, but it was designed specifically to meet the needs of runners, as evidenced by built- in essentials such as GPS, interval tracking, and pace measurements.
And while there isn’t anything earth-shatteringly new here, as our New Balance RunIQ Smartwatch review will show, there is a lot to be excited about if you love to run, jog or hike.
RunIQ Smartwatch: What It Can Do
Set to be available in February, the RunIQ was created in collaboration with Google, Strava, and Intel to provide runners with a fully-integrated experience. These collaborations will allow for more data sharing with other users, Google Now integration, and a much more customized workout, which we’ll break down in a minute.
There is even a compatible headphone set debuting, courtesy of a collaboration with Jabra, that will give RunIQ users access to in-ear coaching. Called the Pace IQ, it will also hit the market in February.
So, what does this latest smart watch look like, and what exactly does it have to offer? Let’s take a look:
The key features and benefits of this smartwatch are: built-in GPS, a lap button, real-time heart rate monitoring, interval tracking and extended battery life. There are also some great extras, like the ability to upload and share workouts, the ability to synchronize music via Google Play, a 4 GB music player, and of course, smart notifications.
GPS: The built-in GPS is a solid feature, one that can help hikers and runners track pace, distance, and courses. This means they can find new areas to run and get real-time feedback of how they’re doing.
Interval Functionality: This feature allows users to monitor interval pacing and sped, so they can fine tune their efforts as they go.
Strava Partnership: By teaming with Strava, wearers can upload and share courses and workouts with each other. This is an appealing feature, as it opens up a huge support network and access to unexplored areas.
Extended Battery Life: New Balance says the battery can last as long as a marathon, but that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Using GPS and heart rate monitoring, you can get about 5 hours out of it. With this features off, you get about 24 hours, which is a bit unimpressive when compared to the Polar GPS running watch.
In addition, the built-in music player can be used with Bluetooth headphones, or the PaceIQ headphones, which also feature a dedicated sports button for audio coaching.
The Run IQ looks like a typical smartwatch, with a round 1.39-inch AMOLED display that shows time and stats. The face colors can be changed, as can the rubberized bands. It is being released with a gray face and black band, with switchable bands available in black, green, pink, orange, red and blue.
One interesting thing I noticed it that the band has little cutout hearts all around it. While I find this to be a cute and appealing, some guys may not be crazy about it.
Another interesting thing to note about the design is the fact that it is waterproof up to 5 ATM. Which means you can sweat and shower with it, but no swimming. Personally, I think this was a mistake on their part. Swimmers are an underrepresented group when it comes to wearables- making this device waterproof would have been a big lure.
Plus, its 2017- every tracker should be waterproof at this point. As a consumer, I expect the newest devices to have the most up-to-date features, which means waterproofing.
Overall, the RunIQ smartwatch, and fully compatible PaceIQ headphones, are 2 solid offerings from New Balance. The smartwatch gives runners more options and versatility, while the headphones enhance their experience.
The RunIQ is available for pre-order now for $299.99, while the PaceIQ headphones can be pre-ordered from $109.99. The $299.99 price tag makes it a bit more affordable than other GPS smartwatches, so it may appeal to a wider number of consumers. Both will be available starting February 1.