Heart-rate readings and music while you work out

Audio output of the Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate by JBL is pretty crisp, with nice bass and clear mid-tones. PHOTO: JBL
Audio output of the Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate by JBL is pretty crisp, with nice bass and clear mid-tones. PHOTO: JBL

Under Armour (UA) is a sport apparel and footwear company that has been making in-roads into the technology realm with its multimillion-dollar purchase of fitness app makers like MapMyRun, MyFitnessPal and Endomondo.

I am still eagerly awaiting the arrival of its smart shoes announced at the start of this year.

For now, I will make do with the UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate by JBL earphones.

As its name suggests, this pair of neckband-style Bluetooth earphones not only allows you to listen to your favourite tunes wirelessly while you work out, but it can also measure your heart rate.

Produced in partnership with audio brand JBL, the Sport Wireless uses a small optical sensor in the left earbud to take your heart readings in your ear.

But first, you need to pair the headphones to your smartphone. To do so, you need to use the UA Record app (Android and iOS). For this review, the Sport Wireless was connected to an Apple iPhone 7 Plus.

The pairing process is pretty seamless, except for one step where you need to switch from the UA Record app to the Bluetooth settings, and everything was up and ready to go within a minute. Once paired, its battery icon will appear beside the iPhone battery icon on the top right corner of the phone's screen.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $289

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WEIGHT: 21g

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Out of the box, you get three extra ear-tips in addition to the M-sized ear-tip on the headphones. Getting the right sizing is important, as the earbuds need to fit snugly in your ear in order for the heart-rate monitor to work.

I found the default ear-tip to be a perfect fit, probably aided by the ear-hooks. Even when I was doing push-ups, sit-ups and some short sprints, the Sport Wireless stayed intact in my ears. If you are just using it for jogs or commutes, you will definitely have no issues as long as you use the right ear-tip.

In terms of audio performance, I found the audio output to be pretty crisp, with nice bass and clear mid-tones. I did not encounter any skipping of tracks when it was paired with my iPhone.

You can control the volume and playback as well as take calls using the in-line cable remote control.

I usually do not like to listen to music while jogging, as I run mainly in park connectors where there are cyclists and other park users on personal mobility devices (PMDs) -I want to be aware of my surroundings.

However, the Sport Wireless delivers great audio while allowing me to be aware of ringingcyclists as well as PMDs from behind.

To get your heart-rate readings, you need to first double-tap on the right earbud. After which, you will get voiced feedback that it is activating the heart-rate monitor.Once it is activated, you need to tap only once to hear your heart rate.

Comparing the heart-rate measurements of Sport Wireless with those taken using my Apple Watch Nike+, I found the readings to differ by no more than three beats per minute.

On the downside, the Sport Wireless has an IPX5 certification. In other words, it is only sweat-resistant. You cannot take it into the shower or into the pool for a swim.

Battery life is around 5hr on a full charge when playing music and with the heart-rate monitor activated.

You use a micro-USB cable to charge it, and it takes only 2hr to charge the Sport Wireless from a flat battery to a full one.

Trevor Tan

•Verdict: It is a tad steep price-wise, but the Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate is a pair of very capable workout earphones that provide immediate feedback on your heart rate.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2017, with the headline 'Heart-rate readings and music while you work out'. Print Edition | Subscribe