There are regular predictions that wearables are the mobile tech of the future, but so far adoption has seemed to lag behind expectations. One major factor preventing people from at least giving wearables a try is price.
When I first heard about such a low-cost daily activity tracking solution I honestly thought it was a joke. The lowest priced trackers we have seen so far have been in the $50 range. For $50 you can use the Pivotal Tracker 1 for more than four years. Removing the price barrier, while still offering up a solid wearable, is revolutionary and there is no longer a good excuse to at least not give daily activity tracking a chance.
- Display and control: OLED display with single button to toggle through stats
- Sizing: Adjustable, fits wrist sizes from 6 to 7-3/4 inches
- Wireless tech: Bluetooth 4.0 for syncing to iOS and Android
- Sensor: Three-axis accelerometer
- Operating environment: Water-resistant, sweat proof, and rain proof. Not designed for submerging, swimming, or extensive exposure to wet conditions.
- Storage capacity: Holds up to three days of information, smartphone app stores all data
- Battery: Recharges in less than 1 hour, last for 5-7 days
- Dimensions: 9mm thick and 15mm wide, estimated weight of 10 grams
On the hardware
The Pivotal Tracker 1 looks like many other wristband trackers with a blue on black OLED display, black thermoplastic polyurethane material, and adjustable metal clasp. It is very comfortable to wear and is light enough that you will hardly notice it is on your wrist.
It is about as thick as the Jawbone UP24, Microsoft Band, and Garmin Vivofit. The blue fonts on the OLED display are easily readable in all lighting conditions. The button to the right of the display has good tactile response as you toggle through the different stats shown on the display.
The button also serves to switch you into sleep mode with a rapid double press. A moon icon will appear on the display and the band will vibrate when you switch into sleep mode.
Unlike a couple other trackers I have tried out, the Pivotal Tracker 1 supports vibration so you can set up an alarm and be alerted with vibration on your wrist. Your sleeping partner will appreciate not having your smartphone blast her or him out of the bed.
|Incredibly low price||No stair/elevation sensor|
|Visible OLED display||Proprietary charging cable|
|Long battery life||Closed ecosystem (may be a pro for some as well)|
|Bluetooth sync support for iOS and Android||Currently no food/eating tracking|
|Comfortable and adjustable band|
|Outstanding smartphone application|
On the software
The band interface has five different screens that you can toggle through using the single button. Information presented includes time, alarm status, battery status, number of steps, estimated distance traveled, calories burned, and percentage of step goal achieved so far.
A rapid double press of the button switches you into sleep mode with a crescent moon icon appearing on the display. The display turns off after about five seconds so that battery life is not wasted.
The Pivotal Living smartphone application is one of the more attractive and functional fitness applications I have ever used. Only the iOS application was available during my review period, but I've been told the Android application launches in the Google Play Store this coming week.
As shown in my screenshots below, the main dashboard display has six large, colorful circles where summary data for sleep, calories burned, weight, steps, active time, and hydration are presented. Tapping on each of these openings up the specific module where more detailed stats are provided, including trends over the past week, friends' status, and percentage of your established goals.
Pulling down on the dashboard shows you a timeline calendar and pulling further initiates a sync to your band. The Pivotal Tracker 1 does not automatically sync to your smartphone. You control the sync to have full control over battery consumption. Make sure to sync every day or two since the band can only hold about three days of data at one time. I forgot to sync during one stretch when I was very busy and lost some data.
The dashboard display shows when you last synced your band and the band's battery status. I know that Pivotal Living states a 5-7 day battery life, but I am seeing even longer performance than that and am impressed by the battery life. I can't stand charging some of my trackers daily and those tend to find their way into the drawer much faster than those that last me a week or more.
While the Pivotal Tracker 1 will capture plenty of data, hydration and weight must be entered manually. I had to ask how to do this since it wasn't intuitive to me. Scroll down on the dashboard display and look to the left side of the words hydration and weight. Place your finger on the three dots and then drag your finger across the display from left to right. You will see the ounces increase so you can enter how much water you drank and the pounds increase so you can enter your weight. Throughout the day, update the amount of water your drink and the total will continue to increase each time you enter a new amount of consumption.
Sleep data shows how many times you woke up, how long it took you to go to sleep, when you woke up, how much deep sleep you achieved, and more.
Along the bottom of the display you will also see network and profile pages, in addition to the dashboard. The network display is where you go to check out your friends or teams. Given that so few people have the Pivotal Tracker 1 at this time, I was unable to test out the network functionality.
The profile page allows you to setup your own profile, including name, age, height, weight, location, and privacy settings.
You can also edit your goals for sleep, hydration, activity, steps, weight, and calories burned. The Pivotal Living app is more advanced than most apps I have seen when it comes to goals with the ability to also set day-specific goals. Thus, if you sleep more on the weekends, then you can set higher goals for those days. I was very impressed with the software and would pay $12 a year just for the software itself.
There is no eating or food consumption support in the app. I honestly have never used this in other apps for more than a week since I just don't have the time or motivation to spend that much time entering all of that information manually. Hydration is important to me though and that is something I can easily enter and set goals for. You can also use another app to track caloric intake and compare that to what the Pivotal Living app shows you are burning.
Pivotal Living states that the data captured is not available to share with other services. They want you to capture as much data as you want, but are also concerned about keeping that data just for your access. You won't see Google Fit, Microsoft Health, or Apple Health export support here, which may please people concerned about providing this access to large third party organizations.
Pricing and availability
The Pivotal Tracker 1 is just $12, or free if you consider that the membership is $12/year. Either way, cost is really not a consideration for the Pivotal Tracker 1 or Pivotal Living application.
While the Pivotal Tracker 1 is $12 on the Pivotal Living website, you can also buy one of their Team Edition blue and green (is this a Seahawks band?) version for $15 with $3 going directly to the Lawyer Milloy Foundation. Pivotal Living is working on other special edition bands in partnerships with charities for 2015.
When you look at the price and all that is being offered here, there is no other competition.
If you are looking at other life trackers that capture this same data, then you may consider the $50 Misfit Flash, $49 Jawbone UP Move, or $60 Fitbit Zip. There are many other solutions available in the $80 to $150 range as well.
If you or someone you know has ever thought about checking out what daily activity tracking offers, then Pivotal Living makes it a no-brainer to purchase a Pivotal Tracker 1 and test it out. These devices give you some awareness of your activity, or inactivity, and I can say from my own experiences that you will change some of your behavior. Simple things like standing up every hour and walking just a few more steps each day will add up over time to help you live a healthier and happier life.
I really don't understand how Pivotal Living can offer such an amazing deal on a solid activity tracker and functional application, but am very pleased to see the cost barrier being knocked down. I would love to see everyone I know wearing one as I know it will help them improve their lifestyle while also challenging each other to get better.
Even though I have a number of high end wearables, I ordered my own Team Edition Pivotal Tracker 1 so that I can wear it around and show it to family and friends in the hopes that they are convinced to give it a try as well. It also does a great job of step and sleep tracking with a fairly solid week of battery life. The smartphone application is outstanding and I may just wear this tracker more than any other.