Is the Vi fitness tracker for you? If you don’t plan on buying an Apple Watch, but still want to stay in shape, the answer is probably yes.
Lots of Promises
First introduced in April, the $249 Vi has been designed to give folks an extra push while exercising. Better still, thanks to its cloud-based AI coaching engine, it learns from your workout routines to make future walks, runs, and cycling events better and more personalized.
Did I also mention Vi comes with Harman/Kardon powered audio?
For the last few months, I’ve been wearing Vi on a relatively consistent basis during light walks and casual runs. Although I wouldn’t call Vi a perfect device, it does deserve a place in the crowded fitness tracking marketplace, because not everyone wants to wear a fitness band or smartwatch 24/7.
Vi: A Review
Are you the type of person who needs an extra push while exercising? Do you quickly grow tired and bored of the entire exercising process? LifeBEAM’s Vi earbuds might be for you. Billed as the world’s first AI personal fitness tracker, the Vi includes lots of nice features that make it worth considering under certain situations.
At first glance, Vi looks like one of the many sets of $9.99 earbuds you’ll find at Amazon.com. On closer inspection, however, you’ll notice there’s much more going on here, which is a good thing given its price.
These are high-quality earbuds featuring a flexible, durable design. Sweatproof and rugged, Vi includes magnetic tips on both ends allowing them to meet when not in use. Apple’s BeatsX wireless headphones offer a similar feature.
Like other Bluetooth earbuds, Vi ships with multiple gel tips and fins. Obviously, when it comes to earbuds, it’s essential to find the right fit. In the case of Vi, however, there’s a more important reason to get the sizing perfect. Vi ships with an optical heart rate sensor built into one of the earbuds. If the headphones don’t fit properly, they can’t track your heart rate.
Vi also ships with a carrying case and USB charger. The earbuds run eight hours between charges.
Vi's Biggest Feature
The heart rate sensor alone isn’t enough of a reason to purchase Vi. Instead, it’s the wearable device’s built-in artificial intelligence (AI) personal tracker. This feature provides useful guidance during an exercise routine. You tap the right earbud and say, “How am I Doing” to hear key metrics, including heart rate, speed, pace, step rate, power, effort zone, and duration/distance in a run.
The assistant also offers a coaching experience which gets better over time. You can also use it to create and start a Spotify radio station based on the current song. This function requires a Spotify Premium membership.
Here’s how LifeBEAM advertises the Vi fitness tracker:
Does the personal trainer work?
As someone who needs motivation during exercises, I very much enjoy Vi’s AI coach. The female voice sounds much more human than other digital assistants, which is a nice touch. Think of it as Apple’s Siri, but with a lot more personality.
To gain value from Vi’s voice assistant, you first need to use it for at least two hours in total. Once you do, it has enough information to personalized coaching cues. Until then, you’ll notice it mostly remains mum except for the guidance mentioned above.
Don’t want a chatty assistant? You can also change the “chattiness level” via the Vi app.
About the App
As I said before, I’ve been using the Vi fitness tracker for a few months now. Usually, I don’t take this long between receiving a review unit and writing a review. I did so this time around mainly because of the Vi app.
At launch, I was less than impressed with the Vi fitness tracker mainly because of the app, which seemed half-baked, at best. Luckily, a steady stream of app updates has changed my mind. And I would expect future updates will make it even better.
And the Harman/Kardon powered audio? It’s a nice addition, although please keep in mind Vi’s mainly a fitness tracker. If you’re looking for a pair of headphones for listening to music almost exclusively, these earbuds aren’t the ones to buy.
The Bottom Line
Admittingly, I’m an Apple Watch user. As such, I can’t see a reason why anyone would want to wear both devices during a run. However, most folks don’t own a smartwatch or even a Fitbit-like fitness tracker.
If you’re looking for a fitness-only wearable device, you can’t go wrong with the Vi fitness tracker. These $249.95 all-in-one earbuds provide useful tools to help you lose weight, reduce stress, or improve fitness.