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Hands on with LG's HeartRate Earphones, a two-trick wearable that actually works

Jon Phillips | May 23, 2014
Fancy that: LG's HeartRate Earphones actually work. That's a victory in a wearables space that's full of grand aspirations, but flawed executions.

Even better, seeing my heart rate data compelled me to push harder during workouts. Now I can't imagine doing any aerobic exercise without real-time heart rate feedback.

It's critical to note that LG is selling the Earphones as a platform for continuous heart rate data-tracking. You don't have to sit still, or collect just a single snapshot-in-time reading. Instead, you get a steady stream of continuously updating heart rate data. Samsung doesn't make the same type of claims with its Gear Fit wristband, and indeed, the Fit spewed out some dubious heart rate numbers during product testing.

Of course, to actually see data from LG's system, you'll need to view it on your smartphone; stream it to your LG Lifeband Touch wristband (a separate purchase); or let the system recite your numbers via a voice engine through your Earphones. More about these options in my final review.

As for sound quality, the HeartRate Earphones will never replace your high-end earbuds. They pump adequate volume, but bass response is disappointing. Mashing the ear tips directly into my ear canal improved bottom-end acoustics, but I could never achieve the same results hands-free, even after trying all three sizes of ear tips that come with the system.

I'm surprised the HeartRate Earphones aren't getting more attention. They may not be as glamorous as smartwatches or smartglasses, but they're an entirely new type of gadget in a wearables space that's searching for a mainstream hit. For the full story with all my pros and cons, stay tuned for the final review. I'll get into LG's software interface (it's not user-friendly), and delve deeper into the accuracy of the Earphones' data.


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