There is a lot of activity in Smart Watches these days. There's the Pebble, another from Martian, the Galaxy Gear and a host of others. There is also a great deal of buzz around lifestyle or fitness watches, like the Fitbit, and the Garmin Forerunner.
Magellan, maker of GPS navigation software and hardware, has jumped into the pool with the Magellan Echo Smart running Watch. It's US$149.95
The Echo is a pretty basic-looking, rubberized watch. In normal mode it displays the time and date, and the display is visible in sunlight. There is also a handy backlight. The watch runs on a CR2032 battery, which is claimed to last for about 6 months.
The watch is water resistant, and should survive rain or a shower. It is not a diving watch, and should not be used while swimming.
Think of the Echo as a display for information from your iPhone. What you see will depend on the apps you are running. More about that later.
When you first open the packaging you'll see a card that directs you to the Magellan Echo website, and that will walk you through setting the watch up.
From there you pick a fitness app. Magellan has been smart here, and made the watch an open platform, so any developer who chooses to link with the Echo can. As of today Magellan says that Wahoo Fitness, Strava, MapMyRun and iSmoothRun talk to the watch.
Using the Echo
I took my usual morning run after pairing the watch to one of the suggested apps. I tried the Wahoo Fitness app, which is free. Pairing worked fine. I entered my height, weight, age and was ready to start. I started the timers and GPS functions from the app itself and put it away. The distance and time displays were on the watch and were easy to read. One problem was I could not figure out how to switch back to the current time of day. My review copy of the watch had only a sheet to link me to the Echo website.
There's no diagram of what the 4 buttons do, and I couldn't easily find that information on the Echo site, even in the FAQs. One button started the music playing on my iPhone, which I knew was a function the watch had. You can also pause and skip tracks. But overall I found documentation lacking. There are some recessed, hard-to-see icons on watch's buttons, but they don't clearly convey each button's function.