Guest review by Jim Dicker, Ironman Triathlete
NB639 Fitness Evolved Headphones
Company: iHome Audio
iHome’s New Balance Heart Rate Monitor and Pedometer, officially called NB639 Fitness Evolved Headphones, comes with earbuds, a combination heart rate monitor/pedometer/chronograph, and a USB dongle that uploads data and recharges the heart rate monitor. The monitoring device must be connected to an iPod or other MP3 player. Also included in the package is a CD containing the user manual and the installer for the Internet based Heart Balance software that stores and graphs the uploaded data. The NB639 retails for $99.99.
Before launching into my review, I should disclose that I am a serious athlete. I have completed countless triathlons and running races of various distances including seven full Ironman events. I own and use three different GPS devices that track a large array of data. The NB639 is not a device that a serious athlete would consider.
The earbuds that come with the system are adequate for anyone listening to music while running. They come with three different silicone ear pieces: large, medium and small. The flexible ear hooks may be detached so that the earbuds may be used alone.
The heart of the system is the multifunction heart rate monitor/pedometer/chronograph. The chronograph functioned properly during both of my tests. It is easy to turn on and off. On my first test the pedometer was accurate to 97% as measured by GPS. The second test was less accurate at 80%. However, the accuracy is a function of the settings that the user establishes in the software. Over time, it would be simple to achieve reasonable accuracy by adjusting the settings after each run.
The heart rate monitor was fun to use, and was accurate. It is activated by pressing a button and holding your thumb on the sensor while a reading is taken. The result comes back over the earbuds that are attached to your iPod or other MP3 player. By taping the front of the monitor a voice will come through the earbuds attached to the monitor that also announces the distance your have run or walked up to that point.
The distance in both miles and steps is uploaded to the Heart Balance software via the USB dongle. You can see graphs by day, week, or month, of your distance or calories burned. The calories are calculated based upon your height and weight in relation to distance covered. No heart rate data appeared in the graphs of my workouts, nor did I see any reference to heart rate data on the iHome website, or the video demonstrating the device.
The unique aspect of this system is the voice that delivers information through the earbuds. If you have difficulty reading the face of a watch, the voice will come in handy. If not, you might find it easier to get the information you want by raising your wrist and looking at your watch.
You can get inexpensive heart rate monitors that can upload this information to programs supplied by the manufacturers from Polar, Garmin, Nike, and others. To get distance information will cost significantly more whether you use a pedometer or a GPS device.
The NB639 is fun and can be useful for those runners and walkers only wanting to track their distance, and get heart rate information without taking their pulse for 10-15 seconds, the amount of time it takes this device to get a reading. I would recommend that anyone at all serious about tracking their fitness look to Polar or Garmin for a device.
MyMac Review Rating: 6 out of 10