GOQii Life Review: An Impressive Edge Over Other Fitness Bands
What is it?
In a yet to mature, yet super-crowded market of fitness trackers,
Who is it for?
GOQii Life is aimed at fitness enthusiasts aiming for a specific fitness goal. It's not a gadget that you'd pick on a whim, and then forget about it after a few months (like what happened for me with my Fitbit Force). The subscription based service includes a personal coach, who guides you to achieve your goals and lead an active, and healthy, lifestyle.
The core of the GOQii Life ecosystem is of course the GOQii Band. The band works like most fitness trackers, and while it's supposed to be worn on the wrist, you could carry it in your pocket as well (although the accuracy would drop a little). Of course, the band isn't the most stylish one around, and there are better ones in the market, but it's pretty decent and the rubber strap is comfortable enough.
A tap or a downward swipe on the band's screen wakes up the display, and repeated swipes cycle between the number of steps logged, the time duration of physical activity, distance travelled, number of calories burnt, and the Karma points accumulated for the day. The time screen includes an indicator bar showing the progress on my walking goal for the day.
The GOQii band logs sleep data as well, but you're required to activate sleep mode manually for the same when you hit the bed, and deactivate the mode when you wake up.
The display switches off on its own after a few seconds, and when tapped again, wakes up on the same screen I left it at. While this is handy, it's awkward when I wake the display to quickly check the time, but have to cycle through few screens to reach there. Also, there is no way to keep the display on permanently in case one is okay with the drop in battery life for the advantage of using the band as an always-on watch.
Like the Fitbit, there's proprietary charging dongle which works okay, but is an extra thing to carry on a long trip and a concern if one loses it. A micro-USB charging band would've been great obviously.
While the GOQii core sits inside the rubber strap on your wrist, you'd need to log each glass of water you drink, the food intake, and any activity like running or cycling that you indulge in. The GOQii app is available for Android smartphones, and is in beta for iOS and Windows Phone. While it has most bases covered, surprisingly, there are apps available for PCs and Macs as well.
For the food intake, you'd need to include a small description, the time and maybe a picture of what you're having. Unlike other nutrition apps, you don't need to bother about calories or nutrition information of your meal, since your data is monitored by your coach and he'll be a good judge of it.
In a few days of use, I got quite comfortable with the process. It requires a high degree of involvement, but now it's almost impulsive for me to log the water or food intake as soon as I'm done with a meal or that random glass of water. There's no way to edit the food data though. A typo or incorrect measure cannot be corrected, and that's a small niggle I wish can be taken care of in future app updates.
All the information captured by the GOQii Band is synced via Bluetooth with the GOQii App, and the app then sends that information along with the data keyed in through the app, to one's coach. While it uses Bluetooth LE, it's still noteworthy, that GOQii band needs to be connected with your smartphone only when you intend to sync data. For most times, you could choose to keep Bluetooth off on your smartphone to save battery if you prefer.
All the interaction with the coach happens via the app in a typical instant-messaging fashion. The chat notifications are also sent to your email.
Another unique differentiator that the GOQii Life offers is Karma points that get accumulated over a period of time based on your activity. You can choose to donate your accumulated points to one or more of the social causes featured on the app. The Karma points concept is a great incentive instilling a feeling of walking for social good apart from one's own fitness.
When you activate your GOQii account, you are required to fill in an extensive online form with your basic information and details on your diet, levels of physical activity, sleeping patterns, history of illnesses, stress levels, et al. Once that was done, I was assigned a coach who wrote an introductory email with a brief presentation. We connected over phone then for him to get a sense of my lifestyle and fitness needs, after which we mutually agreed upon my initial set of goals.
The coach analyses all the data I send him through the app and then guides me on my food choices and suggests alternatives or new inclusions. These are not hard-lined mandates, but suggestions that I've slowly and increasingly started adopting. When I miss my targets or slip in activities, I'm motivated and prodded forward without the annoying push which would maybe make me shrug off the suggestions which won't help anybody.
I'm not a fitness expert, but it looks like that my coach knows his stuff and the food suggestions are practical unlike most diet programs. He is consistent with communication, and keeps a track of my activities and goals more than me.
The Best Part
· Dedicated virtual coach
· Water resistant
· Karma Points for social good
The Tragic Flaw
· Manual sleep tracking
· Average battery life
Should I Buy it?
The GOQii Life concept is terrific, and a few app updates and a firmware refresh of the band would only make things better. I've given up on my Fitbit, and have adopted GOQii hoping things will only go better from here. Knowing someone is monitoring your progress and nudging you to move forward, is a great motivation to make a conscious effort towards your fitness goals.
At Rs 6,999 for six months subscription and Rs 11,999 for twelve months, the GOQii Life is a good investment towards your health. It's a tad expensive from the perspective of fitness bands, but think of it as a gym membership where you indulge in physical activities at your own convenience, and not for an hour or so at the gym under the eyes of your trainer. Of course, once your subscription is over, you can continue using your GOQii Band and the companion mobile app without the service of the coach, just like most other fitness trackers.