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Product Review: Itami FiTrainer

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Fitness gadgets are a great way to get today’s technology-obsessed generation off their butts. Wii Fit is one of the best-selling Wii games. Apple paired with Nike for a shoe/iPod combo.

Itami products throws a new gadget into the mix: the FiTrainer. The FiTrainer is a lightweight headset that helps you find the proper rhythm for an effective cardio workout. The device comes with an attached heart rate monitor that clips on to your ear. Based on your heart rate, the FiTrainer adjusts the metronome-like beat that comes through the headphones. A voice guides you to increase or decrease your workout intensity, again based on your heart rate. You can also choose from three different workout intensity levels. You have three different audio options: one plays just the metronome beat; one plays the built-in, generic techno music; one plays music directly from your MP3 player.

Like most products, there are pros and cons. First, the pros. The device works. I set it up and used it for my workout. It definitely helped me find a rhythm, stick to it, and keep going. The guide voice is a slightly robotic female voice, but not annoying and does not interject unnecessarily. I also like the multiple audio options.

Now for the cons. The headset is not adjustable. I was not doing particularly vigorous exercise, and it did not fall off, but it did not feel secure. On top of that, there was no volume control. I was using it in my home, so it didn’t bother me, but in a crowded gym, it could be a problem. Also, in order to listen to your own music, you must plug your MP3 player directly into the headset. That basically means you need some sort of armband to hold the MP3 player. A nice feature would be the ability to upload your music directly to the headphones.

The most troubling part was that, about five minutes into the workout, the beat disappeared. I was not listening to the audio track at the time, but the beats just vanished. Every thirty seconds or so, the voice would chime in, so I know the device didn’t break or shut off. Just as mysteriously, the beats returned a few minutes later.

All in all, a great idea that could truly benefit from some adjustments for future versions.

Available at Itami.com.

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