The Timex Helix Gusto HRM is a new entrant in the competitive wearables space. This fitness band, with its features and price, competes directly with the Mi Band 4 and the Honor Band 5. It has all the features expected of fitness bands today – step counting, distance tracking, sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring, and several sports modes for better calorie burn calculations. The price of this wearable is Rs. 2,295 in India, and there are vibrant options for the band colour – Blue, Grey, Purple, and Turquoise Blue. There's also a variant that lacks heart rate monitoring, priced at Rs. 1,495.
With so many options available at around the same price point, does the Timex Helix Gusto HRM stick out as a winner? Is it better than the Mi Band 4? We find out.
The Timex Helix Gusto HRM fitness band that we had for review had a Turquoise Blue band. The silicone band wraps around the wrist and is rather broad. It has a metal buckle rather than the rubber peg mechanisms seen on many fitness bands these days. The strap is quite sturdy and holds the tracker module firmly.
This device has a 0.96-inch colour OLED display which is quite large, and allows for big text that can be read easily even when it's bright outdoors. There's just one capacitive touch button below the display for navigation. The tracker module itself has a boxy rectangular shape, but overall, the Timex Helix Gusto HRM looks quite appealing.
It is light and quite comfortable to wear on the wrist, and the strap feels premium. It also proved to be durable, withstanding quite a few accidental falls during our review. There was no noticeable wear and tear on the strap or on the edges of the tracker module even after weeks of usage during which we popped the module out of the band several times.
Coming to the UI, the capacitive button lets you navigate through different sections of the UI. There are three watch faces that you can choose from – one that shows comprehensive information about your heart rate, steps, battery life, date, and time; one that displays the distance covered but not the date; and the last one that shows only the date, time, and battery level.
Tapping the capacitive button lets you see your step count, distance covered, calories burnt, heart rate, sleep pattern, sports mode selection, and message notifications. Long-tapping when on the heart rate section will activate the heart rate monitor, and the tracker will then display it on the screen. The Helix Gusto HRM supports real-time monitoring and measures your heart rate while in any sports mode as well.
The band lets you select from several activities including walking, running, cycling, badminton, basketball, table tennis, climbing, and football. While doing any of these activities, you can turn on the sports mode to track your calories burnt, heart rate, and other data. The sleep tracking section gives you details about the hours you've slept, and the messages section shows you all your notifications in one place. There's also a Settings section that has options such as ‘Find Phone', which makes your paired phone ring so that you can locate it.
The biggest talking point about the Timex Helix Gusto HRM is its battery life and charging speed. The Timex Helix Gusto charges using a flat USB plug that juts out of one end of the tracker module. This tab-like plug stays hidden when the tracker is inside the band. Timex hasn't included a charging adapter inside the box, so users have to rely on any USB charger they already have, or a computer's USB port. While this sounds easy enough, we observed that the wearable didn't always charge with some adapters. Plugging it in and then fiddling with it a bit made it start charging sometimes, but we did also have to give up with some adapters.
The battery took about two hours to charge fully, and lasted for up to five days of average use. During this period, we had notifications turned off, and used the device only to track sleep and steps. We also tested the Helix Gusto HRM with heavy usage of the sports, badminton, and running modes, and it then lasted for only three days. In any case, our real-world experience didn't even remotely come close to the company's claims of up to 15 days of battery life. This is rather disappointing, given that competitors such as the Mi Band 4 (Review) offer about two weeks of use on a single charge.
To test the performance and tracking accuracy of the Time Helix Gusto HRM, we put it through a series of tests. First, we went for a 1km run to check its distance tracking accuracy. The wearable does not have in-built GPS, so it relies on your paired phone's GPS to measure the distance covered. The wearable logged 1.18km on a 1km stretch that we had measured previously using the odometer of a bike. This is somewhat acceptable; and is more to do with the accuracy of the phone's GPS than the accuracy of the fitness band.
In our steps test, we walked for exactly 1,000 steps, counting them manually, and at the end of that the Timex fitness band had recorded 908 steps. This is way off, if we compare it with the Mi Band 4, which was almost perfectly accurate in its steps test. Also, we noticed that it continued to record steps even when we were on a bike or riding in a car.
The Helix Gusto HRM is touted to be waterproof, and while we couldn't take it for a swim, it managed to survive showers well enough. Sleep tracking seemed accurate, however, the data shows only the number of hours you have slept, and isn't as detailed as what you get from other devices, which usually includes deep and light sleep period indicators, plus accounting for time spend awake in the middle of the sleep cycle. The heart rate monitor offered acceptable results.
The Timex Helix Gusto HRM pairs with the Helix Timex app found on the Google Play Store and Apple's App Store. Users need to log in and fill in their weight, height, and other profile details at the beginning. Pairing the watch with our Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro was a smooth affair, and there were no hiccups in setting up the app either. The homepage shows your weight, steps taken, calories burnt, and the number of steps left in your daily goal. Scrolling down, you can see your BMI, your last heart rate measurement, and your sleep and exercise data as well.
There is an events tab that lets you add events for which you need a reminder. However, it doesn't let you add a specific time at which you want to be alerted. Only vague options such as “2 hours before” or “1 day before” are offered. The Device tab has a lot of options that you can set for the band. The Notification Alert section lets you decide what kind of notifications you want displayed on the Helix Gusto HRM. You can toggle them for calls, SMS messages, WhatsApp, and Facebook. A DND option lets you mute notifications all day or for a specific time period. There's also a Camera option that lets you use your fitness band as a remote shutter button to take photos. The Device tab also shows you whether the band is connected via Bluetooth or not.
Last of all, the Profile tab shows you your average steps and total distance covered, and lets you set different goals such as losing fat, getting stronger, building muscle, improving endurance, or improving athletic skills.
While the app offers detailed step tracking with weekly and monthly stats, sleep and heart rate monitoring isn't as detailed as we'd like it to be. There's no weekly or monthly data available for both, unlike in other apps that offer comprehensive data. By default, the notifications on the band vibrate a bit too loudly and for longer than we would like, and there's no way to soften or shorten that.
Also, we would've liked broader options to customise notifications as well. While you are alerted that a message has been received, there's no way to read the full text on the band itself or send a reply from the band itself. These notifications are best kept turned off, as they are more annoying than useful.
The Timex Helix Gusto HRM, at its price, offers a colour AMOLED display, a sturdy and durable design, comfort on the wrist, and useful heart rate monitoring statistics. It looks quite good too, but there are a few limitations that we cannot ignore. Battery life is pretty poor, especially if you are an intense user. Charging this device can be a task sometimes, given its fussy adapter preferences. Also, notification vibrations are too loud for our liking. You have to either deal with it or turn vibration off completely. We also cannot ignore the inaccurate steps tracking. There are a lot of options in the market, and you should definitely consider the Mi Band 4 (Review), which is priced almost the same at Rs. 2,299.