Because you are not allowed to be a company anymore if you don't make an activity tracker, Epson is getting in on the action with its first two entries into the product category. While most of these are a dime a dozen, Epson's Pulsense products might actually have a leg up on their competition: Built-in heart-rate monitoring.
There are two Pulsenses to choose from: A watch and a band. The Pulsense PS-500 Watch is similar to products we've already seen, like the Basis B1 or the Mio Alpha. It uses a light and a sensor to detect subtle changes in the colour of you skin which signify your pulse. It's the same technology medical oximeters have used for years. It also contains an accelerometer, so it can tell you how many steps you've taken, how active you've been throughout the day, and even how you're sleeping.
What's more novel, though, is the Pulsense PS-100 Band, which features that same pulse-sensing technology, it just lacks a screen. Something that small that can monitor your heart rate is novel indeed! Despite its screenlessness, it can still do cardio-zone training, by using its LED indicators. Both the watch and the band use Bluetooth 4.0, so in addition to using Epson's proprietary activity-tracking app, you'll be able to use it with your favourite workout app like Runkeeper or Endomondo, just like you would with a heart-rate chest-strap, provided your phone supports Bluetooth 4.0.
We got to check out both Pulsenses up close and personal. The first thing that jumps out at you about the watch is that it's seriously chunky. There's just so much plastic there for such a small screen. It's thick, it's wide, and even the buttons are overly prominent. While a built-in screen is generally our preference, the magnitude of this watch made us gravitate toward the band. The band isn't as svelte as the Fitbit Force or the Jawbone UP24, but considering it's watching your ticker, we'll give it a pass. Also, we didn't get to see the final version of the hardware.
Both Pulsense products will be coming out sometime in the third quarter of 2014. The Pulsense Band will be a very reasonable $US130, and the Watch will be $US200. Australian pricing and availability is yet to be announced. We're looking forward to putting our wrists all over both of them and seeing how they measure up. [Epson]