The Spark - thoughts after 3 weeks
Saturday, October 12, 2013
I’ve had the Spark Activity Tracker (Spark for short) for about 3 weeks now (I purchased mine before it was released to the public). To be honest, I would not have considered buying it had I not misplaced my pedometer just before receiving the offer. I found my pedometer shortly after receiving the Spark, so I was able to conduct side-by-side comparisons. Additionally, I was able to move the Spark around to see if I could find a spot optimal for me. There is a discrepancy between the number of steps recorded by the pedometer and the Spark, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
SparkPeople recommends carrying the Spark on one’s shoe, flat on the laces, but I don’t often wear lace-up shoes. I like to wear sandals or slip-on shoes to the office and sandals or lace-up sneakers (walking or running shoes – I think “sneakers” may be a regional term) on the weekend or Casual Friday. My sandal-wearing days are greatly numbered, though, for the rest of the year. Soon, I will be wearing boots.
I know the Spark is waterproof up to 100 feet, and I know that some people have worn theirs swimming. I just don’t like to tempt fate, and I like the security of wearing my Spark on my hip, on either the waistband or pocket of whatever pants I am wearing (I don’t often wear dresses or skirts). I don’t have to worry about what will happen if I step into a puddle or deep snow (though maybe if I think positively, we won’t get any deep snow this year).
It doesn’t seem to matter where I wear the Spark, the Spark will consistently record fewer steps than does my pedometer. When I wear the Spark on my waistband or pocket, as close to the outer edge of my body as possible, I can get a difference of 518 to 3220 steps. My pedometer uses dual-axis technology, and I don’t know what mechanism the Spark uses to detect steps. It does appear that my pedometer is much more sensitive to movement than the Spark is. I have seen posts from others on SparkPeople that they feel they really earn the steps they make with their Sparks. They have a point – we should be getting credit for exercise, not just gliding through life at a leisurely pace. It’s also nice to get data from the whole day, because some days, I put in a lot of steps just walking from my desk to the copier multiple times. It all adds up.
I still like that my Spark will upload data automatically, as long as I am near my computer and have the dongle installed. I did not realize this until other Spark owners pointed it out, but down past the steps, miles, calories, and minutes data on my Spark Activity Tracker page is a nice graph of my times of highest activity, and I can use the tabs to view steps, calories, and miles. I don’t know that I need all that information, but it’s interesting to view (and I’m bit of a data freak and have been keeping a spreadsheet of my steps and miles taken on my pedometer and now on my Spark, also).
I do hope that a future incarnation of the Spark (perhaps a Spark II in a year or two) will take into account that I and a great many other Spark users would like to have a display on the unit, also. Rather than watch the lights around the perimeter light up as we near our goals, we would like to see how many steps we have taken without having to be near a computer that can upload the data.
It is also frustrating to me and many others that we cannot take short breaks for any reason (to wait for a light to change, to pick up after a dog, to catch one’s breath), as the workout clock resets to zero in that break. We still have the total minutes for the day displayed, but the workout minutes may be less than what we hope for. For now, we will have to keep track of our true workout minutes ourselves.
Disclaimer: I purchased the Spark with no expectation from SparkPeople that I would post a review. All my opinions are my own.