Friday, April 28, 2006

5-Part Review: Bones in Motion BiM Active Mobile Service Comparison Review with Garmin Forerunner 205

Two things before I get into the heart of this post. First, for all those tired of having to read my mindless drivel regarding my obsession with running and gadgets, despair no more. I have started up a separate blog called Running Devices. The title is pretty much self explanatory so if the topic is predominantly running related then you won't have to tolerate here.

Second, originally I was going to post this 5-post review in its entirety on Mobile Analyst Watch since it deals with a location based service currently offered by Sprint Nextel. However, I got lazy and decided I didn't want to deal with all the hassle since I already posted it on Running Devices.

So instead, I'm just going to post the intro with links at the bottom that will take you to the rest of the review at the Running Devices blog. So without further adieu, here it is....

Dedicated versus converged devices. The debate is ongoing. Which is better? Which one will win out? In the mobile space it's iPods versus music cell phones or text versus telephony. Things are not much different in the world of personal activity monitoring devices. Do you want distance or heart rate monitoring? Is GPS device or a foot pod accelerometer more accurate? If you want both distance and heart rate monitoring then which is more important, measuring distance or your heart rate?

In the end it always comes down to a highly subjective and personal decision. Usage model is king and compromises still rule the day. Adding to the debate is a new mobile location based service from Bones in Motion that combines the mobile world with personal activity monitoring via Sprint Nextel's Power Vision EV-DO network and certain GPS-enabled handsets.

Back in February I wrote about the launch of Bones in Motion's integrated BiM Active web and location based mobile service. Since I'm a dedicated device running geek, I was a bit dismissive of the whole thing. Fortunately, I've been participating in the Sprint Power Vision Ambassador program and consuming 3G data like it's going out of style with the Samsung A920 Multimedia Handset. The folks at Bones in Motion graciously agreed to provide me with a pre-release version of the BiM Active Java app for the A920 handset so I could do a comparison review versus my Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS personal training watch.

Before starting, let me make it clear that I AM NOT THE TARGET AUDIENCE for the BiM Active mobile service. As I mentioned, I'm a dedicated device running geek, who wants specific features and functions, lots of data on my runs and training, and prefers using a PC application to log and analyze the data versus online websites, such as BiM Active and MotionBased.

In my opinion, the BiM Active mobile service is geared more towards recreational athletes, especially women, who:

  • like to run, bike, walk and/or hike (duh!)
  • want to carry a handset while exercising for safety/security purposes
  • don't want or need all the functions and data of a more complex (and expensive) device
  • would rather pay a monthly charge for a mobile service rather than own a device with its upfront costs
  • don't obsess over having to know the absolute exact distance of their activity
In a nutshell, they want something that is simple and easy to use, and records how long the activity took and how far they went. If the distance is off by a bit then it's not a big deal.

WARNING: Potential users should make sure there is Sprint Nextel coverage in the area where they plan to use the service. Depending on the handset, BiM Active can still track GPS data if you go outside of Sprint coverage areas, but to actually start and resume an activity you have to be within Sprint's coverage area.

Here are links to the rest of the review:
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