Garmin’s restyled Vivoactive is a big improvement

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It’s fair to say that we weren’t blown away by the Vivoactive smartwatch last year. But Garmin’s recently announced Vivoactive HR feels a lot better. Functionally, it shares a lot with its predecessor. It has a similar low-res color touchscreen LCD and comfortable watchband, the same built-in GPS, the same week-long battery (Garmin says eight days in activity tracking mode). But it’s all in a smaller, more attractive package.

In case you hadn’t guessed from the "HR" suffix, the new Vivoactive has a heart-rate monitor built in. Given last year’s watch required you to don a chest strap for your daily run, that’s a big convenience, and makes sense now that a lot of smartwatches have tracking built in as well.

The Vivoactive HR is still a niche device. It’s meant for fitness enthusiasts. If you’re the sort of person that wants a activity tracker that also does notifications, rather than a smart watch that does activity tracking, the changes Garmin’s made this time around make a lot of sense. We’ve only had a fleeting moment with it so far, but things look promising so far. It’s due out in Q2 for $250, at which point we’ll hopefully have spent a lot more time with it.

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KnowRoaming’s money-saving sticker SIM goes hardware-free

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KnowRoaming’s magical SIM sticker auto-detected when your phone was working outside its home territory, switching to local carriers and saving you a bunch of money in the process. What’s smaller than a sticker that goes on your existing SIM card, though? No sticker at all. in a collaboration with Alcatel (and TCL), it’s announced a Soft SIM software platform, which sounds duller than it actually is. In short, it means no SIM tinkering necessary, and your phone will automatically link up with whatever network it needs to deliver voice, data and SMS services.

There are some provisos, however. KnowRoaming is collaborating with TCL Communications to launch the platform and while Alcatel / TCL sell a lot of phones, plenty of those are feature phones and plenty more are China-only. But if KnowRoaming can get its soft-SIM software on other carriers and phones, it could be the dream solution. As the CEO puts it: "We’re a one-stop shop for global connectivity." Network selection, call routing and billing is all done through the single company, regardless of where your vacation or business trip sends you to. While China is the first launch country, the company aims to roll out the service to the US and further after that. Until then, you’re stuck with the sticker.

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