The Magellan Echo is a smart watch designed for runners and cyclists joining the likes of the TomTom Runner, Adidas MiCoach Smart Run and a whole host of sports watches that want to play nice with your smartphone.
Unlike the Runner and the Smart Run, the Echo relies on the GPS in your iPhone or Android phone to stream real-time data to the watch display. You can’t download apps like you can with the Galaxy Gear or Pebble and the built-in watch features are limited when not connected to a phone.
If you really hate reaching into your pocket or glancing over at the armband, then the Echo will have appeal. With more activities like skiing and hiking set to be added there’s going to be more reason to consider it in the future. At the moment, the Echo is a solid performer and does exactly what it has set out to achieve.
To look at, the Echo closely resembles Garmin’s range of running watches with its round display, rubbery plastic strap and four buttons that sit around the 1-inch, 128px x 128px display. Each button is embossed with icons to indicate which button activates the backlight, starts a session, controls music playback and navigates through the different menu screens. Water resistant to IPX7 standards, the Echo is not suitable for swimming but it's fine to wear in the shower after a sweaty workout or getting out in the rain when you fancy a run.
If you opt for the more expensive model (£170) like the one we tested, you’ll get a chest-worn Bluetooth Smart heart rate monitor in the box as well. It will however work with existing Bluetooth Smart or ANT supporting monitors so you can save yourself the extra £40 if you already have one.
Strap it on and you'll find that it’s reasonably light and weighs just 44g, making it comfortable enough to keep on all day, between runs. A day spent on a sweaty wrist will make you want to take it off for bed. The orange and blue models definitely have a much sportier look, but if you are looking for something a little more understated, then the classic black version is a good fit.
To 'echo' the running or cycling app data, the Magellan Echo uses Bluetooth Smart (or Bluetooth 4.0) so it’s equipped to collect frequent amounts of information more efficiently helping to preserve battery life. That means you’ll need to own an iPhone 4S or above or an Android smartphone with Bluetooth 4.0 support like the Nexus 5 to get the best experience.
Currently there’s five apps that work with the Magellan Echo; Strava, MapMyRun, Wahoo Fitness and iSmoothRun. All are free and have premium options to get additional features. Magellan has made the developer platform open so each app can customize what data can be mirrored to the watch and decide how much control the watch can have over the app.