Published on August 20th, 2017 | by Greg0
LifeBEAM Vi: Smarter, Training-Focused Fitness Earphones
A few years back, the best audio solution for anyone who was a serious athlete was a set of moisture-resistant Bluetooth wireless earbuds and an iPod Nano. But carrying an extra device is cumbersome, when you really just want to take your phone, and as the app market grew so did reliance upon them- many runners rely on a variety of applications for everything from mapping and social sharing to step-counting, calorie tracking, and more. But the solution isn’t necessarily to rely ever more on your phone’s hardware- today’s piece of gear offloads some of the brains right into the earbuds themselves.
The LifeBEAM Vi aims to combine a fitness tracker and sophisticated set of earbuds, and builds in some advanced artificial intelligence and voice assistance to act as a personal trainer and coach. This way, you don’t need to think about remembering, charging, or losing a separate monitor- Vi comes packed with sensors and used your smartphone to measure everything from heart-rate to cadence, elevation to speed. Vi gets to know you over time, and that’s a good part of the appeal- she’ll ask what your goals are and help set up a plan to meet them. With a battery life of about eight hours, you can even use Vi during a marathon or day-long hike. And it’s weatherproof, sweatproof, rugged enough to throw in your bag and easy to charge via the included USB cable,
Originally a Kickstarter project that raised over $1.6 million, the company seems to specialize in finding the right partner for their technology. A few years ago, we tried out the bike helmet they made with Lazer, and this time they teamed up with another great manufacturer. The audio is courtesy of Harman/Kardon, which means that you’ll enjoy every note and tune of your music even while you are in motion. And you can place and receive calls too, easier than with most sets thanks to touch controls (that aren’t too sensitive, and worked reliably). We liked that they included a wide range of sizes of tips, so you can be sure they will fit snugly and stay in place. Of course, you’ll need to download an iOS or Android app for best results, which will give you access to real-time data, get feedback, plan workouts, and more.
The two-part design, with a neck ring and wired buds, takes some getting used to- but the magnetic clasps that connect the buds to the ring are interesting and keep it all together for portable travel. There are ear loops for secure Accuracy was solid, as long as the left earbud was firmly seated. Microphone response was good, as the neck ring is naturally well-placed, and they use wind/noise cancelation to help keep your voice audible during conversations. Vi’s voice is surprisingly natural, and you can control her chattiness too, but we started enjoying her as a companion. Available online and in stores, expect to spend around $247.99 for a bold, intriguing, fitness solution that will change the way you jog, bike, or exercise.