Spree Sports Fitness Monitor straps a sensor to your forehead to give information on heart rate and body temp, but with its high price and without proper Android support its audience is limited.
Spree Sports Fitness Monitor
Manufacturer: Spree Wearables, Inc.
1st Party Platforms: iOS (Android ‘coming soon’)
3rd Party Support: iOS & Android
Price: $199 [price dropped from $299]
A product sample was provided to us for evaluation
The Spree Sports Fitness Monitor is a little different from other wearable activity trackers. For starters the Spree is something you are only going to wear while you are exercising. It has no passive tracking abilities and must be used in conjunction with an application. Secondly, instead of wearing it on your wrist, or strapping it across your chest the Spree fits nicely around the head, with the device itself resting tightly against your forehead.
A headband might not be in your typical workout routine, but Spree is trying to bring it back into fashion. The standard bundle comes with a nice stretchy band. The housing where the device itself rests is a squishy, breathable silicon with a triangular pattern to it.
The Spree device itself is about the size of my thumb. Small, black and rectangular it has no buttons, no display and nothing to tell you that it is on. As long as the Spree has a charge it is going to be turned on and using its Bluetooth to look for your device. When using the device with the first party application the application handles the initiation to the device, not the Bluetooth manager.
Even though the device is always on, the battery lasts quite a long time. The documentation reminds you to charge the device after every time you are finished with it, and wait until the notification light indicates it is charged. I found myself forgetting to charge it after every workout, and still got about a weeks worth of nightly use. The charging port is a standard micro USB. Great news if you use an Android device. Now they just need to develop a first party app for Android or greatly improve third-party compatibility.
The iOS app has a lot of different exercise feature settings and tracking information, but a lot of it is clunky to manipulate. For each exercise routine the app encourages you to set goals by adjusting various onscreen virtual dials. These dials might have some aesthetic feel, with their connection to real world objects, but it is just an inefficient way to set precise values. When getting ready for a run I found myself spending more time selecting the exact goal information than I would in any other app.
While the Spree and app track and surface data like heart rate, body temperature and distance traveled not all of this is surfaced to the end user. Body temperature is one of the features that the Spree boasts, separating itself from the pack of other wearable trackers, but the application does not show the relevant data. Presumably the app uses the data to more accurately determine calorie burning, and it does represent the information through color coded, dynamic icon, but it would be great to be able to have a readout of the information.
The Spree itself offers no visual feedback or information other than the charging indication LED. It makes sense that there is no display readout for real-time data reporting, since the Spree is strapped to your forehead. Having a readout would make using the device without a dedicated app possible. Without one using the device with most Android phones a bit of a pain. Spree Fitness says their device is compatible with Android through third party applications, but what they don’t mention is the small spectrum of Android device compatibility. I attempted to sync the Spree with a handful of devices and could only get it detected within the Runkeeper app on Samsung Devices. Failed attempts with Moto X, HTC One X+, LG G2. Spree has said that they are working on developing their first party app and to improve third party compatibility by the end of the year, but unless you have a Samsung device I would hold off on making a Spree purchase until then.
The Final Word:
The Spree Sports Fitness monitor is an impressive device, but it leaves much to be desired. Heart rate monitoring and GPS synchronization makes the Spree stand out from other active fitness trackers but unfortunately the current app doesn’t surface any of the unique data. The clunky first party app is only available on iOS and the third party offerings have very limited compatibility with Android devices (read: only Samsung). If you have an iPhone (4s and above) and are looking for a comfortable heart rate monitor, the Spree’s forehead band is a lot less intrusive than having to wrap something around your chest. The lack of clear documentation, or list of supported devices is frustrating. If you are looking for an active fitness tracker, the Spree has the hardware potential to be something great, but you should probably wait a year for the apps and compatibility to improve before dropping $300 on it.
- Headband fits nicely & keeps sweat/hair out of face
- Micro USB charging port
- Alternative to chest strap for those looking for body temp and heart rate information
- Very limited Android support
- Clunky, unintuitive iOS App
- No data stored on device, requires app
- Few goal settings
- Limited motivational functionality