The proliferation of exercise accessories to use with smartphones seems to have doubled in the last year — thanks to the appearance of sensors/monitors that can track what a person does when exercising or exerting themselves in a sport. The one thing that all these sensors rely on is contact with the person, and this contact is often done in ways that make them stand out and are uncomfortable as well. The spree Fitness Monitor seems to have found just the right balance without giving up on any of the needed features required. In fact, spree ups the game by folding in the ability for body temperature monitoring.
The spree pod is almost weightless and barely bigger than a lima bean, but it has to be used with the included headband to do its job — which is to read a person’s heart rate, body temperature and to monitor motion. The pod goes into a depression on one side of the headband, which is then put on so the sensors can now lie against the forehead. The band can be adjusted and must be tight enough to secure a good fit that won’t come ajar when the person’s active. The headband doesn’t go out of its way to stand out, but it can’t be unobtrusive due to its placement on the forehead. There’s no on/off for the spree pod and should first be charged using the micro-USB slot. The amount of power it has will be visible in the spree app and I found it to last for quite a few exercise sessions — but it’s easy enough to pop out of the headband for a quick 1-2 hour charge now and then.
Bringing up the spree app on my iPhone, the first thing to do was fill in the settings; my height, weight and other factors such as age. Then I went to the “Workout” screen — where it was necessary to select the device — the Spree pod. Notice that I didn’t have to pair it with Bluetooth in the conventional manner, I just had to select the pod from the screen to perform the pairing.
With this set, I now had to choose from the exercise options: walking, running, cycling, gym (weight training), skiing or .other I chose walking to start and decided on such factors as for how long I was going to walk and filled in the other areas as to what I wanted to accomplish. As I began walking, the app displayed the information that was being gleaned by the spree pod — I could also swipe the app to bring up a more detailed page. This procedure is similar in all of the exercises and what’s saved goes into a history file for viewing later on. The app can run in the background so music can be listened to, but since GPS is also running in the background, this can put a fair drain on the phone’s battery power. So I made sure to quit the app when I was no longer using it.
Later I decided to use the spree while running — however it was supposed to rain so I decided to use the treadmill in the gym rather than go outside (the pod is waterproof and supposed to be able to handle a car going over it — the first is sensible to have since sweat will occur (and did whenever I wore it for more than a few minutes while exercising) and the second I will just assume is true. I set up the app for running and did my usual time and then viewed it later on. Besides being pleased with my heart rate for the time spent, I could see the value of tracking my progress over time using the spree. And while I never got overheated while doing some weight training later, I could see the value of the spree being able to provide a warning signal. It’s a useful addition to its “bag of tricks.” Additionally, I also saw the value of being able to view the “History” setting over a period of a week to compare heart rate and other values that the spree picked up during my runs.
Bottom line: The spree Fitness Monitor performs in a straightforward and efficient manner that makes it a fit companion when exercising or engaging in physical activity where monitoring one’s body is desired.
Body temperature readings, Auto-sync functions
Headband can become uncomfortable over long periods of time
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.