Runtastic Orbit review: The activity tracker that only a Runtastic fanatic could love

Jon Phillips Editor-in-Chief, TechHive Follow me on Google+

Jon is the Editor-in-Chief of PCWorld and Greenbot, as well as the lead wearables reporter for TechHive. He's been covering all manner of consumer hardware since 1995.
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The $120 Runtastic Orbit activity tracker won’t wow you with beautiful industrial design. And besides its curious ambient light sensor, it doesn’t innovate much beneath its squishy, rubber exterior. But the Orbit can display the data from Runtastic Pro, a smartphone app with more than 85 million downloads to its name.

Who knows—it might be just enough to help the Orbit cut through the noise of an insanely crowded activity-tracking wristband space. Scads of competing products already track steps, calories burned, and sleep cycles. But once a wristband becomes an auxiliary display for the GPS-based exercise data collected by smartphones, you have a slightly more interesting story.

runtastic orbit on arm Michael Homnick

Looking more like exercise equipment than sophisticated design, the Runtastic Orbit makes the argument that aesthetics don't matter that much in today's wearables.

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Samsung files patents for three new smartwatches that look a lot like the Moto 360

Florence Ion Staff Writer, Greenbot Follow me on Google+

Florence is an Android-using yogi obsessed with all things tech.
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Don’t have enough Samsung in your life? Then you’ll be happy to know that the company just filed applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for three round smartwatches of its own.

The three patents look very different from their predecessors. Two of the wearable gadgets feature round watch faces and differing clasping methods, while the third is slightly squared with rounded corners. They also look to be thinner than the devices Samsung has out now, but the actual implementation of these plans could turn out to be quite different.

samsungpatent smartwatch2 USPTO

One of the smartwatches resembles its predecessors, but with rounded corners. 

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Fitness wristbands are officially commodity hardware, lowlighting a bad week for wearables

Jon Phillips Editor-in-Chief, TechHive Follow me on Google+

Jon is the Editor-in-Chief of PCWorld and Greenbot, as well as the lead wearables reporter for TechHive. He's been covering all manner of consumer hardware since 1995.
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When Xiaomi announced its $13 Mi Band on Tuesday, it only underscored the point that activity-tracking wristbands have become commodity hardware, joining cheapo thumb drives and USB cables in the no-name parts bin of consumer electronics. 

Now, granted, that $13 price tag is just what the Xiaomi Mi Band will sell for in China. There’s no word yet on U.S. pricing. Still, if I’m the CEO of a big-name activity-tracking wristband company (think Jawbone or Fitbit), I can’t be happy that Xiaomi is devaluing my product category with a disposal trinket.

Sure, it’s great to bring tech to the masses at an affordable price. But how much finesse, polish and accuracy can we really expect from a $13 wristband? At some point, we lose confidence in health and wellness products if barriers to entry are too low. Would you buy a $13 car baby seat? Yeah, exactly.

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Why Android Wear is the smartest smartwatch platform yet

Ryan Whitwam , Greenbot Follow me on Google+

Ryan Whitwam is a freelance science and technology writer based out of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Among other sites, he's written for Android Police, ExtremeTech and Tested.
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The first few Android Wear devices on the market could be described as inelegant, if you’re being kind. The G Watch and Gear Live are both somewhat bulky, and not the most attractive pieces of technology ever developed, but there's something incredibly important going on inside them.

Strapping one of these chunky watches to your wrist instantly changes the way you interact with your smartphone. Android Wear has a shot at being a transformative technology on the level of the iPad, and this is why.

It saves your phone's battery

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Razer bakes WeChat into feature-packed Nabu smartband, teases U.S. launch

Ian Paul ian@ianpaul.net, TechHive Follow me on Google+

Ian is an independent writer based in Tel Aviv, Israel. His current focus is on all things tech including mobile devices, desktop and laptop computers, software, social networks, Web apps, tech-related legislation and corporate tech news.
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Razer's upcoming activity tracker—which behaves more like an Android Wear smartwatch than a smartband—is getting WeChat integration as it inches closer to an official U.S. release.

The new feature will initially allow WeChat users to get notifications on their wrist. The two companies are also looking at allowing WeChat users to share contact information by shaking hands or doing a high-five, according to Recode.

If you've never heard of WeChat, you're probably not alone. It's a Whatsapp-like messaging service popular in China and other parts of Asia, but isn't as big in the U.S.. Razer plans to launch the Nabu in China towards the end of 2014, which is probably where the WeChat integration will see more success. A U.S. launch for the Nabu is planned in the next month or two, Re/Code says, with a launch price under $100.

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Lenovo reveals smartglasses prototype that apes Google Glass, seeks hardware partners

Michael Kan Beijing correspondent, IDG News Service, IDG News Service

Michael Kan covers IT, telecom and Internet in China for the IDG News Service.
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Lenovo showed off a smart glasses prototype on Thursday, part of a push to attract developers and other hardware manufacturers to a new partner program.

The wearable device looks similar to Google Glass, but has its battery attached down at the user’s necks. More details will be announced in October.

Lenovo is also looking for partners to help it develop products ranging from wireless routers to air purifiers for its home market of China. The PC maker wants to team up, and even invest in tech companies that work on products beyond PCs and smartphones.

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Heading to Comic-Con? Check your Google Glass at the door

Anthony Domanico , TechHive

Anthony Domanico is a freelance journalist covering consumer technology. He's passionate about smartphones, tablets, wearables, productivity tools, gaming, and streaming.
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The 2014 edition of Comic-Con opens its doors in San Diego on Thursday--but not so readily for everybody. If you're wearing your Google Glass to the sci-fi and fantasy industry trade show, Comic-Con organizers would prefer you turn your eyeballs elsewhere.

Comic Con 2013

I don’t see any Google Glass on that Comic-Con logo. Do you?

We were first alerted to Comic-Con's Glass-free stance thanks to this tweet from Fast Company's Harry McCracken:

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