RUNTASTIC ORBIT ACTIVITY & FITNESS TRACKER*
Update: Runtastic has stopped producing wearables in order to focus on mobile apps. But you can still get the Runtastic Orbit activity tracker on Amazon.
What It Is: An activity, fitness and sleep tracker that uses wireless Bluetooth technology. You can wear the waterproof Orbit on your wrist or clip it onto a waistband or bra.
The Orbit measures steps and distance, calories burned and sleep duration. It also tells time and has a sound-free, vibrating alarm to get you up in the morning.
What You Might Not Know: The Orbit device is meant to be used with the free, compatible Runtastic Steps app (Apple, Android).
Feelin’ the Love: My ideal gadget is one I can turn on and use pretty much right out of the box with no more than a few minutes of fiddling. I don’t like tinkering with tech or reading manuals. Sleek and simple with only one button, the Runtastic Orbit is right up my alley.
When I cracked open the barebones manual with its clear photographic instruction, I knew the Orbit was made for people like me. Once the battery was charged, I was immediately up and running (and tracking every step, too).
The Runtastic Steps app is just as easy to use. When I wanted to save data from the Orbit to the app, I just opened my iPad and everything synced from my wrist to the app automatically. Beautiful.
Wearing the Orbit verified for me what most people who use activity trackers already know: These devices really do motivate you to move more. When you pay attention to a positive behavior, such as how active you are in a day, you put more effort into improving that behavior.
From the Runtastic Me app, you can set your goal for number of daily steps to whatever you want. Some experts say that number should be around 10,000, give or take a couple of thousand. I stuck with the device’s default setting—8,000—but got to 10,000 or more on most days. The Orbit buzzes when you hit halfway and again when you reach your daily goal.
Later, you can analyze data synced into the app to determine your most active periods of the day. Mine: At the gym (no surprise) and from 4pm to about 7pm (dog walk, pick up my daughter from school, make dinner, tidy up, etc.).
Even after weeks of wearing my Orbit, I never got tired of it buzzing to reward me for all the good activity I’d done so far that day.
Although, a few times it buzzed to alert me to a milestone when I was driving or standing still brushing my teeth. I think there’s a short lag in how the Orbit tallies steps—no matter, as long as they’re all accounted for. Speaking of, sometimes I don’t get credit for steps I’ve taken. I explain why below.
If I Could Change One Thing: At bedtime, you press and hold Orbit’s one button until it turns to sleep mode. In the morning, you’re supposed to press the button again to start counting steps for the day. Problem is, I’d often forget to switch to awake mode, which made it look like I slept longer than I did and “cheated” me out of the precious daily steps I’d earned so far that morning.
With an activity tracker, it’s easy to become a tad obsessive about wanting every step to go on record—even those first few of the day when you’re stumbling to the kitchen for caffeination. It would be nice if my Orbit sensed that I was no longer supine, sending a vibrating reminder to hop over to awake mode after, maybe, five minutes of continuous activity.
Should You Buy It: I recommend this activity tracker for people who want the benefits of using fitness technology without having to fuss with too many bells and whistles. Find it on Amazon.