Pivotal Living: Great Concept–Poor Execution

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A while back, we heard of a new Seattle based company that was going to put the fitness tracking industry practically out of business. The concept is simple enough, but so revolutionary at the same time. Where companies like Fitbit and Garmin sell you a $100 device and give away the software, Pivotal Living is selling you a 1 year membership for $12 and giving you the tracker. In theory, it could be compared with the old 2-year contract deal for the free cell phone, just on a smaller scale.

After checking out the Pivotal Living website for a few days, learning about the functionality of the band and what the Apps could do, we requested a press unit to review. We heard nothing for 2 weeks and decided that we would go ahead and place an order for one. About a month ago, we went all in and took the plunge by ordering a retail unit just like everyone else had to do. The $12 charge for access to the service had a $3 shipping charge for the band added to it at checkout, but even at that rate, $15 for a great fitness tracker seemed like a steal.

Our band showed up a few days later, which is very much unlike the experience that many users on Pivotal Living’s social network channels are reporting. Unfortunately, we couldn’t say the same for the Android App that was ‘available’ according to their website, but was no where to be found in the Google Play store. After waiting for about a week, the App finally made an appearance in the Play store and we were able to download it to give the Pivotal Tracker 1 a proper testing.

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The software itself tracks a few key fitness components, like steps taken, calories burned, water consumption, sleep time and time that you spent being active during the day. All in all, it looks to be a pretty complete software package. Pairing the device was pretty effortless and syncing was even easier. A simple tap of the upper left corner and a quick press of the button on the tracker and the sync notification came up. After 20-30 seconds, the process was complete and the information refreshed on the screen to show the uploaded data. If this were the end of the story, Pivotal Living and their tracker would get the highest praise and a must buy recommendation from us. unfortunately for them, this was only the beginning.

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What followed over the next two weeks has been one of the worst tech experiences ever. First off, we have to say that we are not running this on the latest and greatest hardware, so there isn’t a curve ball on that one. A stock HTC One M7 running Android 4.4.3. The Pivotal Living App should be fully compatible and have no issues according to everything that we found. Unfortunately, that didn’t apply to the band as well.

The first major problem that the folks at Pivotal need to address is the fact that the band is completely non-functional without the App. You can’t even set the time manually without it. Next up, the random band resets. On multiple occasions, our band decided that it was time to shut down and start itself over. This wouldn’t be a problem, except for step one above – it reset the clock to 00:00 and deleted all the user data in the device. So much for tracking my 2 mile walk this morning. The little bit of support that can be found online points to static electricity as the culprit for the resets, but we have little to no proof that that is the actual cause. Next up, the horrible fact that you can’t enter data manually into the App itself.

The problems with the App continued when our device decided to unpair from the M7 and it would not reappear in the Bluetooth devices. After trying everything to get it to be recognized, we did the only thing we could think of, deleted the account, waited for the band to go completely dead (which it has amazing battery life) and then finally was able to recharge it and get the device recognized. Again, not something the average user would want to be doing, but eventually it worked.

For those riding a bike or walking to work that know the distance and steps taken, it should be easy enough to ‘fix’ this when the band quits working. In fact, it should be incredibly simple to add a slider like the weight and hydration sliders to all 6 categories on the home screen. Unfortunately, they did not do that and there is no way to use the App manually. The last part is that the Pivotal Living App does not sync with any other fitness tracker out there. If you are a MapMyFitness user or a Noom person, the Garmin or Fitbit offerings will allow you to ‘sync’ your data to third party Apps. Pivotal Living is dependent on you paying that $12 to keep their software going and offsetting the cost of your tracker in the long run.

Overall, the concept behind the Pivotal Tracker is brilliant, but it is inherently flawed by poor quality control, bad software and even worse customer service. It only takes a few glances at their Twitter feed and Facebook page to see that there are way more users that are upset by the lack of support than those that are happy with the experience. It might also be worth noting that their iOS App seems to be a bit more reliable than its Android brother, but there are still plenty of issues being reported there as well. For now, we recommend a complete PASS on the Pivotal Tracker 1 and the Pivotal Living App. We know fitness bands aren’t perfect, but if a group of techies have trouble getting this thing to work on a daily basis without losing data, how can the average person be expected to do so?

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