Performance Monitoring Using Novel Metrics
Power Based Training/Testing
In the words of Lesley Gore, "It's my bloggy and I'll write what I want to!". Ok. I know. She didn't sing those exact lyrics. Anyways, welcome to my 'party'. I would like to label this article "A Review of Actofit", but I am not a reviewer or know how to do them! Instead I will just commit my thoughts etc to Cyberspace. Take it for what it's worth.
I will start backwards with a summary of my experience with Actofit and follow it up with a more in-depth analysis. Originally I was going to just highlight the aspects that were relevant to my personal usage of this product but had such fun with it that I spilled over to areas that have no interest for me. I'll elaborate later.......
UPDATE - 10th August 2017
Everything outside of the line above and below was written back in April. This is the most recent (and final) update.
I've grown to despise this product. The battery only lasts a maximum of three days (which seems to be the norm for other users), and I have to charge it for 90-120 minutes every time I want to use it. My original aim was to use it two or three times a week to measure power output on specific movements, but the laborious charging hours before is a headache. I have a running footpod that lasts over a month! As a result I have not used Actofit for two months and have no idea when I will use it again.
The company also did something which was uncool and that was to close down their Early Backers Facebook page without giving any notice. My philosophy is that actions speak louder than words so maybe something can be read into this rude act on their part.
As an original champion of this product and company I have now changed my perception based on personal experience and observation of the experience of other backers. I leave the original review in tact as it reflects a previous perception.
On the 27th April 2017 I was in possession of an exciting new gadget. I was impressed the moment I removed the product from the delivery packaging. The presentation is superb with a quality box inclusive of outer sleeving. Very stylish graphics are displayed on the box with simple descriptive text. 'Cool' and 'minimalist' are my chosen descriptors. Inside the box is the band itself, a novel little charger and a card containing a web address for how to get started. Ticking all the boxes so far.
Now to the star of the show. The word I would use to describe the Actofit band is 'Handsome'. My immediate thought was that it would make an ideal present as the cosmetics are spot on. I love the strap, which is thoughtfully equipped with internal ribbing to ensure it stays snugly in place. It also snaps in perfectly at the end of the strap and the logo is a welcome addition. The band is very well made and looks modern. Please be aware that I have no experience with other bands and am not making a comparison; just my personal opinion on the build quality.
There is one thing that lets the band down a little and it is the screen. Just by looking at it I can tell it will not withstand the knocks of daily life. The plastic is soft and is almost enticing cosmetic damage. I have chosen to leave the original protector on for the moment (a habit I picked up while living in China!). Maybe some form of screen protector will be added to a future shopping list.
That aside, the touch screen is very responsive and it didn't take long to understand the navigation. I can use it no problem with the original screen protector still in place. The screen does time-out very quickly and defaults back to the clock. This can be a little annoying as one only gets a second or so to absorb the information on screen. Personally it will not affect me based on what I will be using the product for but when I was testing it, I was getting a little frustrated. The good thing is that a firmware upgrade can change this if it becomes an issue with other consumers.
While compiling this article and testing the product it has become apparent that one article will not suffice! I will break it down into two parts (10th August 2017 - Part 2 will not happen). This part will provide and overall summary and the next part will provide a more in-depth analysis. Let's get to it.
Steps - A quick and dirty test yielded an actual step count of 245 over 200 metres with Actofit showing 269. I also accumulated steps while sat at my desk. Steps are an alien concept to me but I see the motivational value. A question for the Gods. Are any of the step counters on the wrist accurate? We walk with our legs!
Heart Rate - I have had quite a bit of experience with optical heart rate monitors and found them to be semi-reliable for resting state and steady-steady state training (running, biking etc). Strength training and other non-steady state training changes things a little. My plan was to do three tests; resting heart rate, steady state training and strength/circuit training. The first test yielded a 5bpm difference between Actofit and the Polar H7 chest strap. Test two was a technical failure and needs to redone. Test three to follow.
Calories - No comment on this regardless of the source of measurement/algorithm/licked finger in the air!....BUT.....kilojoules from power output. Hmmm :)
Power (plus other metrics; force, velocity etc) - Ah. I'm in heaven. Crude testing is still in progress from my side but I am loving what I am seeing/experiencing. I can't comment on the accuracy on the actual measurements (after all they are algorithmic estimates), and to be honest don't care as long as they are consistent. Power is just force multiplied by velocity, so as long as the clever little internal sensors 'are doing their thang' all should be super cool. Results so far appear to be solid.
App. I think the app is a thing of beauty. I take my hat off to whoever designed it. It is well laid out and compliments the band very well.
Exercises - I have found recording custom exercises to be a breeze. The only exercise I had trouble with was chin-ups, which is no real surprise due to the limited range of (maybe my) motion. I was blown away when it successfully recorded my sandbag clean and presses and also displayed the separate components (1. Clean. 2 Overhead Press) within the power analytics in the app. AWESOME :) I was also able to attach the band to my kettlebell and record exercises.
Syncing / Processing - In a world of super fast data transfer the syncing of training sessions from the band to the app is pretty slow. I am sure there is good reason that is beyond my technical knowledge but it doesn't negate the frustration of waiting for so long.
Analytics - No time to dabble, Man! Will update later. Same goes for sleep and anything else I have missed. Sorry.
Wrap Up - For what I will be using this gadget for, it is absolutely perfect. I personally have no interest in the steps, calories, sleep or heart rate but everything else is a dream come true. It would be nice to have the ability to turn off the heart rate monitoring to conserve battery life but it's not a big deal. Talking about battery life it is hard to give an opinion at this stage. Part 2 of this article should yield further information.
Scoring - For my specific use I give this product 10/10.
For build quality - 7/10. (screen -3).
Ease of use - 7/10. (time-out and defaulting back to start -3). No deduction of points for sync time as I don't know the technicalities.
Value for money - 10/10 (great price point)
If I was to apply a couple of words to what Actofit offers, I would say, "fiddly technology". It is not quite there yet in terms of overall ease of use but is 100% going in the right direction.
A number of users seem to have had issues that I have not experienced. Many were in the first batch and their experiences and Actofit's willingness to listen has no doubt made life easier for the second batch of users.
I applaud the company behind Actofit for taking health tracking to the next level. I see a dynamic company that embraces end-user feedback. They appear to have a passionate desire to 'win' and I am sure that this will result in a successful conclusion. 2 thumbs up to Actofit :)
Part 2 to follow once testing has concluded.........
Official Web Site
Actofit's YouTube Channel
Techy Agent Vids on Actofit
(Separate windows will open up)
Note 1: None of the external links on this page or throughout this web site are affiliate links. I provide links to give access to further information about the training I undertake and the products that I use. I have absolutely nothing against affiliate links but I don't personally run any.
Note 2: Sometimes I will provide details about a training program but only details that have been put into the public domain by the program creators.
"You wanna step counter - buy a footpod.
You wanna monitor heart rate - buy a chest strap.
You want advanced exercise tracking and analytics - buy ACTOFIT."
April 2017 (updated Aug 2017 ;)