Now that every company seems to be launching its own wearable fitness tracker, it's only natural that Nautilus, makers of the as-seen-on-TV Bowflex, should launch its own device. The Bowflex Boost is an inexpensive $49 wristband that keeps tabs on how much you move and how much you sleep. But with so many other wristbands on the market, can the Boost succeed?
Click to EnlargeThe Bowflex Boost's design is as simple as you can get. The band is coated in a soft-touch medical-grade silicone that's very comfortable to the touch, and to the wrist. The entire device is black, save for a shiny plastic clasp, and is water-resistant to about 1 meter. Weighing just 0.8 ounces, the Boost is slightly lighter than the Nike+ Fuelband (0.95 ounces), but heavier than the Fitbit Flex (0.41-0.51 ounces).
The top of the Boost, which houses the electronics, bulges out slightly, with a small LED and a button beneath. Press the button briefly to see how far you've progressed toward the day's goals (red: 0-50 percent; yellow: 51-99 percent; green: 100 percent). You hold the button for 3 seconds to enter sleep mode (the light turns purple) and 5 seconds to enter Bluetooth pairing mode (the light turns blue).
Setting up the Boost is as easy as downloading the iOS app and creating a profile. You'll enter your age, gender, weight and fitness goals (steps, calories or miles). When you want to sync the Boost with your phone, simply hold down the button on the Boost for 5 seconds, and your data will transfer in a few seconds. While the Boost currently works only with iOS devices, the company is planning to release an Android app later this year.
At the time of this writing, the Bowflex app had not yet been approved for distribution in Apple's App Store, but Nautilus provided us with the same version consumers will be able to download.
Click to EnlargeLike the wristband, Bowflex's app is pretty bare-bones. The home screen shows your current activity levels (steps, calories and distance). Swiping to the left shows your sleep stats -- when you went to sleep and the amount of actual sleep time.
Selecting the middle tab at the bottom of the screen shows your activity over time (you can switch between day, week, month and year), and the right tab lets you change your profile and fitness targets. We like that you get a more detailed look at your daily activity patterns when you turn the phone to landscape mode.
But that's about it. Unlike apps for the Fitbit Flex and Jawbone UP, there's no diet tracking, and, apart from sharing info on Facebook and Twitter, there's no group social function as there is with the UP and Nike+ Fuelband. However, according to Nautilus, the Boost will soon work with MyFitnessPal, which does include diet tracking.
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The graphs, too, are on the basic side, using just red, white, black and gray. By contrast, the UP's charts are much more colorful, and show a greater level of detail, such as light and heavy sleep.
Click to EnlargeLike the UP, the Boost can track your sleep; simply press the button on the Boost for 3 seconds, and it enters sleep mode. We found the Boost comfortable to wear while sleeping -- we barely noticed it was on. However, unlike the UP and Fitbit Flex, the Boost lacks a vibration feature to wake you up gently.
Bowflex says that the Boost's battery will last up to 11 days. After using it for a week, the Boost still had two out of three bars on its battery meter. By comparison, the Jawbone UP will last about 10 days on a charge, the Flex between 5 to 7 days and the FuelBand about 4 days. To recharge the Boost, attach it to its included USB charger.
Click to EnlargeFor those who want a simple wristband to track their daily movements and sleep, the Bowflex Boost is a comfortable and competent device. At $49, the Boost is half the price of the Fitbit Flex, and $100 less than the Nike+ Fuelband, which not only makes it an inexpensive alternative for yourself, but a good gift for someone you want to nudge into shape. While it lacks some of the features of competing fitness bands, overall, the Boost is a good buy.