New Balance follows the steps of Polar and create a race clock with Android Wear. Something we already knew would happen, because was already announced during the ESC in 2016Originally set for the end of 2016, they waited until the Las Vegas CES to officially announce it, although they were most likely not waiting for the CES, but for Android Wear 2.0 to be available.
Developed by Intel (something normal, since New Balance has no experience in hardware), the RunIQ offers integration with Strava as the most interesting feature. The clock, of course, incorporates an optical pulse sensor (something that is already mandatory in 2017) with a maximum autonomy of 5 hours.
The control is tactile through its screen, but it also has three additional control buttons. As always, the easiest thing is to go to a quick feature list, so let's go over all the details:
- 1.39″ screen (just over 35mm) with AMOLED technology
- Intel processor Z34XX.
- 512 MB RAM and 4 GB internal memory.
- Possibility to play music via Bluetooth
- WiFi connectivity
- GPS receiver
- Optical heart rate sensor
- Water resistant (50m)
- 1 day and 5 hours autonomy in training with use of GPS and optical sensor
- Android Wear 2.0 Operating System
- Strava Software
This last point is of vital importance, since New Balance doesn't have a platform where to synchronize trainings, and they don't have any intention to create it. Therefore the clock will depend completely on Strava to see races and trainings after synchronization. Which is not a bad thing, since Strava's platform is of quality and allows the download of the activity files in case you want to import it in some other application (Apple, I don't look at anybody...).
From here, it remains to see the overall performance of the watch in all its aspects, mainly GPS and optical pulse sensor. We have already seen how other manufacturers have serious problems with the GPS of their devices (Apple Watch Series 2The optical pulse sensor probably comes from the Intel's purchase of Basisbut it's not confirmed by Intel or New Balance. So far... promises.
New Balance RunIQ, availability and price
The New Balance RunIQ will be available from February 1st (Android Wear 2.0 by) at a price of £370. There is only one colour option with a single strap option, all in black.
It was to be expected that more models with Android Wear would be presented at this CES2017. This is the natural process, and if they haven't arrived earlier it has been due to the delay that the Android Wear 2.0 platform has suffered.
But this new model has a difficult time, firstly because, although New Balance is the brand name, it does not have any reference at the hardware level. Not even a brand name like Nike has been successful when it has attempted to enter the hardware market. In fact, the latest decision has been to simply collaborate with Apple by providing a software platform.
Polar has been selling a product for a few months now, but with a big difference: a training management platform with advanced training possibilities, recovery monitoring, etc. Something that New Balance lacks. The only thing it offers is integration with Strava, something that Polar has already had for some time.
The price is not interesting either. 370 is a pretty high price, especially without knowing how your GPS or optical sensor will perform. The Polar M600 you can get it right now for $100 less and, frankly, it's a much more reliable brand than at the hardware level. That Intel is behind the project is not a guarantee of anything either, because when the bills don't add up they have no problem forgetting everything and keeping the patents. We've seen it before and we'll see it again in the future.
Even so, it is interesting that there are new proposals and different options on the market. With competition the only one who benefits is the end customer, and a little pressure on the market is sure to help other manufacturers refine pencils.
And with that... thanks for reading!