Friday, 20 January 2012

Timex Health Touch Review

For those getting into fitness, there’s a whole bunch of accessories and gadgets at your disposal. Unfortunately, this is still a pretty niche area and these gadgets continue to be highly priced. Timex, a popular line of watches has a few devices catering to this customer base. The one we’re reviewing is called the Timex Health Touch and it’s not particularly expensive, not as much as the mainstream GPS health and exercise activity monitoring gadgets around. The key feature, however is to detect your heart rate.

Design and build quality
The Timex Health Touch looks like any other watch - it’s similarly sized, has a rubber strap and four buttons in all. The watch is made of plastic, but it has a patch of metal surrounding the screen. This same metal patch is used to monitor your heart rate. The back of the watch is also made of metal and it needs to makes contact with the top of your hand. The watch fits rather snuggly when you wear it and the strap lets you adjust the size to your hand, no matter how thick or thin. 
The back metal plate that makes contact with your skin
The back metal plate that makes contact with your skin

The watch itself looks alright, although we would have preferred a more stylish design. It doesn’t come across as being a sophisticated device, but just another digital watch. The quality of buttons isn’t too great. They’re large and are easy to press, but they don’t feel very good and look a bit outdated. The same goes for the strap. 

The controls on the Timex Health Touch work like any other digital watch in the market. There are four primary buttons - one of them for selecting the mode, the other to start or stop features, such as the timers, stopwatch and activity functions.The other two buttons are for Reset and to enable the Indiglo function. The Indiglo glowing function for the display is pretty old. On this watch, it works fairly well in the poorly lit areas, but in the daytime, it’s hardly visible. 

The watch has the usual time, stop watch and timer functions. Each one of these is highly customizable in the sense that you can alter the timer values by holding down one of the buttons. It brings up the alternate menu for almost all the features when you hold down the Mode button. 
Four primary buttons surrounding the display
Four primary buttons surrounding the display

The product’s key feature is the ability to monitor and detect heart rate. To do this, one needs to hold their finger against the top panel of the metal ring that surrounds the watch, for a few seconds. There’s no clear marking as to where to place your finger. There is no real-time monitoring of your heart rate either, which is the downside of this watch. It’s hard to continue monitoring it when you have to keep placing your finger on it to view the heart rate. It’s almost impossible to do this when you’re riding a cycle, for example. Timex has a small reference chart that’s bundled in the manual as well as on the packaging that tell you of the effective and maximum heart rate for people of different ages. The menus are somewhat easy to navigate through and getting used to the device takes no more than 10 minutes. We didn’t like the quality of the fonts used. For example, some text on the screen appeared thin, while some other fonts appeared with thicker lines. 
Calculating calories being burnt
Calculating calories being burnt

There’s also approximate calorie burning that’s calculated by your heart rate and the time of activity. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of customization that you can do here. For example, the device doesn’t work while swimming and there’s no GPS function, so the watch doesn’t know if you’re climbing up or running on flat areas. You have the option to add your age and your heart beats-per-minute settings as well. 

The heart rate monitor performance itself isn’t as accurate as the full flegded systems like the one we reviewed on the Garmin Forerunner 405CX. The detected heart rate seems a little erratic. For example, with no activity, the watch detects heart rates between 68 and 74 in the matter of a minute. It’s the same case when others try it too. It, of course, does increase with activity and there’s a clear difference noticed. We would’ve liked a nonstop heart rate monitoring feature with alerts.

The Timex Health Touch comes across as just another watch, but the one that detects your heart rate. It’s not very accurate, but it is handy if you’re doing long running or cycling sessions. If you’re looking for detailed recorded statistics, then this isn’t the product you’re looking for. We would’ve liked a smarter looking watch and we think that the price of Rs.3,995 for the product is a tad too much to ask for.

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