EB Sports Groups Sync Burn Review: It's no LifeTrak Move
At a Glance
If the Fitbit Flex is the bottled Mexican Coke of fitness bands, then EB Sport Groups’s new Sync Burn is a can of warm RC Cola. It’s not that it doesn’t get the job done—either way your thirst is quenched (or your steps are tracked) but one experience is offering distinctly more than the other.
EB Sports Group, best known for brands such as Men’s Health, Everlast, and Bally, produces a variety of plain looking pedometers and heart rate monitors under its Sportline brand and is now looking play in the consumer market with two fitness bands the Sync Burn and the Sync Fit.
When the Sync Burn arrived, I was eager to check it out—I’d already reviewed a similar product, the LifeTrak Move C300 and had been pleasantly surprised by the good impression made by that budget band. So, how did the Sync Burn fare in comparison to its cousin? Meh……
EB Sports produces a number of fitness tech devices, albeit all generally on the plainer side, but for the Sync Burn they decided to go a different route and partner with Salutron (the company that developed the LifeTrak Move). The result is two products that are nearly indistinguishable: The Sync Burn is practically the mirror image of the LifeTrak from the information displayed to the physical design.
Both bands measure roughly 8.5 by 1.2 by 0.5 inches, and both weigh roughly the same (0.3 ounces). While the LifeTrak features a green band with two rows of holes to fasten the band, the Sync Burn has a red band with three rows of holes. While EB Sports Group doesn’t provide spec info on the Sync Burn, it’s probably safe to assume that it’s constructed from the same polyurethane as the LifeTrak; likewise, it’s also probably waterproof (up to 30 meters/98 feet), and runs on a coin cell battery.
The three buttons on the Sync Burn operate in exactly the same fashion as on the LifeTrak: The main button on the face of the tracker cycles you through the metrics that the band measures from steps, to miles, to calories burned; holding down this Front button will also measure (but not store) your heart rate.
The other two buttons, located along the right side of the watch, also operate the same. Pressing the top button displays graphs for your hourly or daily movement (again, like the LifeTrak, these graphs change depending on what the main Front button is displaying. That is, if you’re in step mode, pressing the top button will show a graph of your steps; if you’re in calorie mode, the graphs will display data on your calories burned). Pressing this top button also takes you to the Workout Mode, which you can enable to track your metrics during a workout, or use as a stopwatch.
The lower button is responsible for syncing the Sync Burn to its companion app (more on that later); pressing and holding both buttons together activates the Sync Burn’s pitiful backlight. Unfortuantely, EB Sport decided to go with a dark display with white numbers and letters (as opposed to the light display and dark type on the LIfeTrak) which makes it more difficult to read at times. The backlight does the same weak job on both watches, however.
Both the Sync Burn and the LifeTrak pair to free third-party apps—the LifeTrak with Argus, and the Sync Burn with MapMyFitness. One of several apps from MapMyFitness, the free workout trainer app is a solid enough offering—it can track over 600 types of activities (yes, really, I checked) in categories ranging from Group Run or Lap Swim to Canoeing and Dragon Boat. (Sidenote: Can anyone tell me what Dragon Boat is?)
MapMyFitness is also a strongly social app; in addition to getting a profile page, you also get to make fit friends within the app, earn awards for your activities, and you can follow others activity feeds as well, making it a bit like Facebook but just for the gym. If you upgrade to the MVP version you can also use a Live Tracking feature to find friends training near you, although MVP will run you $6/month or $30/year.
You can either record a workout using the apps live tracking (which also includes options to play music or turn on the Coaching feature), or via a manual Log Workout option. The app saves your workouts and routes, and also has a fairly comprehensive nutrition section that allows you to track your “Calorie Budget,” weight, and calories consumed.
You can log all of your meals, although searching for your meals in the search bar, then selecting the appropriate result for each item could become a bit time consuming, it is at least nice to have an extensive list. You can favorite the meals, but there doesn’t seem to be a tab to access your favorites.
The Nutrition section also allows you to enter in your weight, and how much water you’ve consumed, in order to provide a more complete picture of your health. Metrics get tracked in graphs; foods you’ve entered can be edited by tapping the Foods Logged Today button at the bottom of the section.
All your activity metrics meanwhile, can be found on your profile page which displays distance stats, weekly charts of workouts, and information gleaned from the Sync Burn such as how far you’ve walked and how many calories that burned.
Overall, it’s a fine app. It gives you all the data and functionality that you would expect, it’s got a decently friendly UI, and although I’m personally not much for the social integration aspects, it does those things unobtrusively.
But it’s not well integrated with the Sync Burn. In fact, to sync the hardware to the app, you have to go into the Settings menu, then tap Heart, Other Sensors & Devices (under the Equipment section), then scroll down to Sync Devices and select the Sync Burn. That’s….not the most intuitive way to do that. It’s understandable, especially as the app pairs with a number of fitness sensors and devices such as the Wahoo RFLKT, but it’s not stellar design.
Moreover, it stands out in contrast to the LifeTrak/Argus pairing which felt much smoother: the hardware is located under devices and apps, to pair you simply tap the Sync button next to it. In the end, I think that was my biggest problem with the Sync Burn: it feels like an afterthought.
It’s functional, it pairs with a functional app, and I experienced no bugs. But here’s the thing: EB Sports Group essentially copied their homework here. They licensed the LifeTrak hardware, turned the band green, shook some hands, paired it with a free, already-established app, and called it good. Oh yeah—and they marked up the price too. The Sync Burn was brought to market for $130 (but is currently on a holiday sale of $100), while the LifeTrak—which features nearly identical hardware, and also pairs to a free app—retails for $80. That makes it really hard to recommend this product but if you’re dead set on living out some kind of Brewster’s Millions fantasy I can at least tell you that it’s not buggy or busted.