Review: Performance Designed Products (PDP) Gotality for iPhone + iPod touch
Not content with offering just an armband for the iPhone and iPod touch, Performance Designed Products (PDP) has developed a premium workout solution called Gotality ($60). Not only does the kit include a neoprene armband, but there's also a ear clip heart rate monitor, two free fitness apps, and even a 60" measuring tape for your waist. While the armband isn't great and the apps' graphics aren't enhanced for modern iOS Retina Displays, Gotality may have value for some people when considered as a package. It certainly merits comparisons to Scosche's myTrek Wireless Pulse Monitor, which offers similar functionality at a higher price, and it's nice to see another accessory-enhanced app.
Although it’s the largest of the physical items that comes shipped in the box, PDP’s armband is pretty forgettable. For the most part, it’s made of raggedly cut neoprene, with a Velcro strap on the right side that loops around through a slot on the left; this enables the band to adjust to the size of your bicep. The face of your iPhone or iPod is covered by clear plastic that still allows you to control the screen, and is surrounded by a reflective silver material for safety purposes when running at night. This design is years old at this point, and fairly uncontroversial if properly manufactured. Unfortunately, all of the holes—the long opening for inserting the device, one for the iPhone headphone port at the top, and those for the Dock Connector and iPod touch headphone ports at the bottom—are poorly cut. They’re too small and are quite frayed. It’s disappointing that PDP didn’t put more care into the most visible element of its product. The tape measure included for measuring your waist isn’t notable in any real way, good or bad.
What really does stand out, however, is the ear clip heart rate monitor, which attaches to your iOS device through the Dock Connector port; as is customary with Dock-based accessories these days, plugging it in without the app installed will prompt you to download the app from the App Store. From end to end the accessory measures over nine and a half inches, and there’s an alligator-style clip that slides up and down for securing the cord to your shirt. At the far end is the plastic and rubber clip, which somewhat resembles Apple’s iconic white earbud. There are sensors on the inside of both half of the clip. While nothing fancy, the design of the clip is actually very nice, and certainly much better than the armband.
When connected to either app, the clip provides what appeared in our testing to be an accurate heart rate reading. If you’re looking for nothing more than monitoring, the Gotality Cardio Fitness Pack Express app suffices; it also provides information on how many calories have been burned, plus music controls for your workout. Those looking for a more thorough fitness app will be better off with Gotality Cardio Fitness Pack, which allows you to set fitness goals, and designs workouts to help you achieve them. It’s worth mentioning that PDP’s heart rate monitor doesn’t work with Apple’s built-in Nike+ app, the iPod nano version of which in the distant past offered support for a specific Nike+ heart rate monitor. These apps do a pretty good job of replicating that functionality, though.
Judged as a sum of its parts, Gotality is a good but not great value. It’s a more affordable solution than myTrek, but the implementation is also cheaper. The armband is particularly poorly executed, but it generally suffices for what it’s supposed to do, while the heart rate monitor is well-designed and functions as expected. We also found the free apps to be nicely done, and we were glad to have two to choose from. Overall, we like what PDP has put together. There’s certainly room for improvement, but it’s good where it counts. Because of this, Gotality earns our general recommendation.