HTC just announced that it will be releasing a fitness band called the Grip this spring. It will cost $US199, and HTC seems to be positioning this as a gadget for athletes and those serious about fitness rather than the everyday consumer.
What sets the Grip apart from the already crowded fitness band market is the fact that it has GPS built-in.
Most fitness bands don’t have this — you’d usually have to buy a fitness watch, which doesn’t really do much other than telling the time and tracking your location. Other than the Grip, the Microsoft Band is the only other full-featured fitness band to come with GPS tracking.
The Grip, like most fitness bands, is waterproof and can tell you information about your workout, such as how far you’ve run and your pace. HTC says it will also be able to detect multiple sports such as running, cycling, and swimming, as well as tracking your sleep.
This means the band will record how long you’ve slept and how much time you’ve spend in deep versus light sleep. Most fitness bands do this, and the Basis Peak even tells you how many times you’ve tossed and turned throughout the night.
HTC’s Grip will be able to deliver simple smartphone notifications too, such as incoming calls and calendar alerts. It’s compatible with both the iPhone and Android devices.
But it’s really designed for fitness fanatics. HTC describes the Grip as rugged, and during my limited time with an early version of the device I’d have to agree. It feels sturdy, and much more durable than most fitness bands. It probably won’t wear down easily, which is ideal for the market HTC seems to be going after. It uses an e-ink screen too, so you should be able to read the screen in sunlight.
The Grip will eventually be available in other colours, but it’s launching in Deep Teal/Lime, and it works with Under Armour’s Record app. HTC partnered with the sports gear company in January, and since then many have been speculating that the two companies have been working on some type of fitness gadget together. You’ll be able to buy the band in three different sizes.
There is one feature common among fitness gadgets that the Grip is missing though — a heart rate monitor. Many fitness bands, including the Basis Peak, Fitbit Charge HR, and Moto 360 can tell you your active heart rate. HTC, however, doesn’t really believe that these types of monitors, i.e. non-chest strap heart rate monitors, are very accurate so it decided to pass on the feature. You can connect the band to other heart rate monitors, though.
The GPS functionality will undoubtedly be what makes the Grip stand out from other competitors. It will be available through HTC’s website, Under Armour’s website, Walmart, and AT&T as well as sports goods retailers such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Authority, and Academy Sports + Outdoors when it launches.