I Liked the Epson PS-500 Fitness Tracker - Until the Rash

PS-500rash.jpg

Epson's entry into the fitness tracking market, the Epson PS-500 Fitness Tracker, seems to have the same problem as the recalled Fitbit Force - it gave me a rash that required a doctor visit and steroid cream!

I was so effing excited the day that I saw the Epson PS-500 fitness tracker in my Amazon Vine review queue. The hubs was even surprised, when on a daily basis I would say, "I hope the fitness tracking device comes today!"

When it finally arrived (just a few days later, but a girl gets antsy), I immediately unpacked and charged it so I could start wearing it asap.

You see, I love quantifiable data. And I really wanted to track my heart rate, steps, calories, and sleep patterns so I could continue to improve them - without a chest strap. Plus I wanted a functional watch and calendar.

The PS-500 promised all of this, along with an easy to sync iOS and Android app, or syncing via PC and micro usb, for $199.99 retail (as  a Vine Voice I received it free to review).

Epson PS-500

I am somewhat forgiving since there is so much technology packed in, but the PS-500 is huge, especially on a my small wrist. It is approximately 3/8" thick, which means it gets in the way of anything with elastic at the wrist (like most jackets and some gloves). The strap is easy to adjust and comfortable.

Now, you can only set the watch time and settings by syncing it, and it took me few days of research to realize that I couldn't sync to any of my laptops (Macbooks), tablets (Kindle Fires), or phones (Blackberries). I had to borrow a phone to do that. I did contact the Pulsense Product Manager for Epson, Randy Bergstedt, who replied quickly but could not give me any timeline for MacOS software or any Fire or Blackberry apps (you can sideload and work around, but that isn't easy and breaks any warranties).

Once it was synced, I wore the device 4-6 days a week, except when in the shower. It wasn't so comfortable for sleep, since the face is thick, so I only wore it all night once or twice a week. I synced on my friend Regina's Samsung, since there are no apps for Kindle Fire, Blackberry, or Mac (they since changed the website sales page description to state that only Windows is supported).

The app works seamlessly. I had no problem with bluetooth connection or syncing, and loved having my data in graphic detail. However, the app is very simple, so you cannot really compare your data, run reports, etc.

I found that the PS-500 keeps good time/date, has a good 2-3 day battery life, and seems to track steps and heart rate well. I did find that the HR would sometimes just stop for no reason, or stop displaying, but a quick restart fixed that. Note that the led lights are really bright, so you may want to turn them off when sleeping (and you have to use the app for that and sync). I had a bad dream one night and woke up to a bright, glowing wrist because my heart rate went up.

Because of its size, I did have some issues wearing the Epson PS-500 fitness tracker during certain exercises. I couldn't do a kettlebell rack with it on, and it was uncomfortable during certain pilates exercises on the reformer, like the Hundred, where it impeded the handle.

Still, this was a solid 3.5 star item. Until the rash. I came home last Thursday night and this was on my wrist.

Epson PS-500 rash

After waiting through the weekend without wearing anything on my arm, I went to my doctor Monday. He said that the rash was clearly from the PS-500, that I should stop using it immediately (I already had), and he have me a strong steroid cream - triamcinolone - to use twice a day for a few weeks until it resolves (yes, a few WEEKS).

I emailed the photo to Sensing Manager Randy Bergstedt at Epson. He replied and asked if I had any known allergies (none), and how tightly I wore the watch (4 on a scale where 1 is super loose and 10 cuts off circulation).

Meanwhile, my doctor reminded me about the Fitbit Force recall, due to rashes like mine, which has since progressed into a class-action lawsuit against Fitbit.

Sigh.

According to at least one affected user of the Fitbit Force, Alexandra Lucas,

Reading the comments [on the Fitbit Force user community site] was both illuminating and horrifying. Everyone had the same symptoms, most occurring a few weeks after they started wearing it. The rashes have lasted for weeks and in some cases spread and got infected. Most people are trying to help each other by sharing diagnoses, treatments, and theories about the cause — ranging from a nickel allergy to a chemical burn to a fungal infection. One person suggested it’s all in our minds. Most of the people had to get medical care and use prescription drugs to treat the rash. Nobody has a definitive answer about the cause, which creates anxiety about its duration and potential recurrence (according to the self-appointed experts on the forum, once you pick up a nickel allergy, it never goes away).

So awesome, right?

I will have to give this one star at Amazon, since there isn't a no star option.

PROS: heart rate monitor on wrist, easy bluetooth syncing with app, functional watch/calendar, good step and sleep monitoring.

CONS: very wide and thick, no connections for music, limited app, limited software compatibility, HR monitor sometimes stops for no apparent reason,  CAN CAUSE A CONTACT DERMATITIS RASH.

I am still waiting on an official response from Epson. When I have one I will let you know!

UPDATE 12/22/14

I spoke with Randy Bergstedt today, and Epson will be reimbursing me for my medical co-pays. Thank you Epson for doing the right thing!