I was interested in reviewing the UA Healthbox for two reasons: One, I needed the motivation of a looming deadline to get myself back into the yoga studio. And two, I was really curious to see what it’s like to use fitness products made by HTC.
So far, I’m impressed. The UA Healthbox is the result of a partnership between HTC and Under Armour. It’s a literal red box that you open up to find a fitness band, a Wi-Fi connected scale, and a strap-on heart rate monitor. All together, the box retails for $400.
The nice thing about buying all this stuff at once is that they all work together as part of a single fitness routine. And as a recovering couch potato, I found that taking this journey with a bunch of helpful technology in tow is exactly what I needed to get the motivation to get up and go.
UA Band and the UA Record app
Like every other one of the dozens of fitness gadgets, the UA Band tracks it all: heart rate, calories burned, steps walked, and hours slept. You can read our full, comprehensive review on the UA Band here, which also includes a rundown on how the UA Record app works in conjunction with all three devices.
I will offer one helpful tidbit: if you’re not interested in the Wi-Fi enabled scale or heart-rate tracking device, the UA Band is still worth considering if only because it’s really efficient at what it does—and it only costs $180 to buy it alone.
UA Heart Rate monitor
I’ve never worn anything like the UA Heart Rate monitor before, so it took me a while to figure out how to make it comfortable. It didn’t help that the instruction manual only depicts the way it should fit on a man’s chest.
Regardless, the UA Heart Rate monitor was the easiest of all three gadgets to set up, compared to the Bluetooth waiting game I played with the Scale and the Band. The strap has two plastic tabs on the underside that require contact with your skin at all times to offer a proper readout. When you’re wearing the device during a workout, the device syncs your heart’s BPM rate with apps like MapMyRun and UA Record.
I found that the heart rate monitor offered what seemed to be a more precise reading compared to the UA Band. I’m not sure which device takes precedence when the app archives a number, but the readout sure matched how I was feeling. The number might also factor in the fact that the heart rate monitor rests straight at the source, while the Band just pulls your pulse from the wrist.
It’s not that I’m not committed, but the heart rate monitor is just too awkward to wear to yoga class. I’m already slightly self-conscious and the last thing I need to worry about is a light-up dongle peaking through my sports bra. Which leads me to believe that this particular device works best in a gym setting, where you can actively check on your heart rate with your phone.
Of all the products that come bundled with the UA Healthbox, the scale is the only one that’s reflective of HTC’s design prowess. But that’s to its detriment, because HTC’s penchant for shiny things has made the Scale a major attractor of dust and hair. It was terribly grimy after a week in my bathroom. Those basic glass-and-metal scales you see at Bed, Bath, and Beyond might look dated, but they’re much easier to clean than this oversized hockey puck. The UA Scale’s modern design just isn’t made for bathrooms.
Each time you step on it, the scale greets you by name, which it figures by weight. (It stores up to 7 additional weight profiles, too.) Then, it offers a readout of your body weight and body fat percentage, which it calculates using bioelectrical impedance—also known as measuring the electric currents through your body. It’s sounds neat, but pay mind that this is not considered a “gold standard” method of measuring body fat (you're not likely to find a simple at-home method that is, alas). When that’s all said and done, it syncs up the results with the UA Record app.
I don’t deny that weight is an extremely touchy subject, but things got particularly touchy for me during my first few days with this product. Around the third or fourth time I stepped on the scale, it measured my weight at 10 pounds over what it had displayed minutes before. I then tried it in front of coworkers at the office to confirm my findings and, embarrassingly, it fluctuated 12 pounds between three separate readouts. Oddly, my male colleagues experienced more consistent readouts, with variances of only a few ounces in between.
The readouts on the scale are now more dependable than when I brought it home five weeks ago and, as a result, I feel more confident stepping on it. Under Armour says that the scale needs to calibrate before it works properly, which is perhaps what happened with me. Either way, I feel a duty to warn those who might be sensitive about their numbers at first: you may experience a bit of an emotional seesaw as the Scale figures out what your weight actually is. Don’t be discouraged.
Should you buy it?
Investing in the UA Health Box may seem like quite an expense if you’re just starting your journey to healthy living, and that’s because it is. For a common couch-dwelling citizen like me, the entire dance of measuring my weight, ensuring I leave the house with the Band on, and bringing the heart rate monitor with me to the gym is quite a bit to account for at first. But as you work it into your routine, it becomes more second-nature, and at least paying for the entire box is cheaper than buying each of the products individually—that would run you about $440, according to the numbers HTC provided us.
My only worry is that this entire health kit doesn’t seem quite refined. It’s like it was rushed out in an effort to get something—anything—on the market. If you are an early adopter, you’ll likely have to suffer through a few software updates and figuring out of kinks before it all works as advertised.
This story, "UA Healthbox review: You don't have to be a serious athlete to start a fitness routine" was originally published by Greenbot.