Medical Guardian, Freedom Guardian: Review
Product name: Freedom Guardian
Manufacturer / Distributor: Medical Guardian
This page contains our Medical Guardian Freedom Guardian review.
Analyst Summary: Medical Guardian Freedom Guardian
The Freedom Guardian is one of several products we compared in a piece of research called "Smartwatch as Medical Alert". If you are interested in this category of product, we recommend you look at this comparative review.
The Freedom Guardian is really a medical alert with some smartwatch features, whereas some of the other products are more like a smartwatch with some medical alert features. This has the fewest "smartwatch features", and is the least stylish in the opinion of our Longevity Explorer community. But it was the "easiest to use" and was the closest of any of the products to a conventional medical alert.
If you want more smartwatch features, some of the other products discussed in the comparative evaluation above might be more appropriate for you.
If you want a medical alert that keeps you as safe as possible, don't mind wearing a conventional medical alert even if it looks ugly, and don't really care about having extra smartwatch features like the weather in your medical alert, then one of the more conventional products we compared in "Mobile Medical Alerts: Comparative Evaluation" might be more to your liking.
But beware. Even though it is easy to say "I want to be as safe as possible", the truth is many people purchase a medical alert but then don't wear it, because they don't like the way it looks and feels. If you think that might be you, this may be just what you need. Because even though it has some limitations (see below), because it is really "a watch", we think you are more likely to wear this than more conventional medical alerts.
This product worked well every time we tested it, and connected us to the responder who could triage whether we needed help or not and call 911 if necessary. Except for a single day on which it froze completely (see malfunctioning episode below).
The fact that it combines a medical alert with the capability to tell the time and to see the weather make it a quite versatile "wearable", and we think make it more likely that it will get worn compared to a conventional medical alert.
The product does not have an automatic fall detection capability. It relies on you to press the button to summon help. For some, this is a major weakness. We discuss this more in the comparative article "Smartwatch as Medical Alert" linked to above.
In our hands-on exploration of this product by our Longevity Explorers, most agreed it was the least stylish of the category we looked at.
This product had a serious "malfunctioning" episode (see below).
For lots more details about this product, including the topics below, we suggest you read "Smartwatch as Medical Device?".
In "Smartwatch as Medical Device?" we discuss topics including:
- can you wear it in the shower?
- ease of use;
- where it does and does not work;
- response time;
- how well it can locate you;
- any "failures to call for help" in our testing;
- how this category of medical alert smartwatch compares with more conventional medical devices; and
- features for caregivers (like knowing where the wearer is).
Here are some additional items not fully addressed in our comparative evaluation: Smartwatch as Medical Alerts.
The Freedom Guardian worked well most of the time in terms of summoning help. But it had an entire day during which it was completely non-functional.
In the early morning of that day, I noticed that the Freedom Guardian had a flashing screen, was displaying the signal that said it was calling for help, and was completely unresponsive to any pressing of buttons. I called tech support, who were not at all helpful.
After 15 minutes on the phone with them, and several "hold periods", they told me "there is nothing wrong with the product. It is AT&T's network which is "down". It should fix itself in a couple of hours and if it does not, call us back".
I immediately tried the MobileHelp Smart which also runs on the AT&T network, and it did not seem to have problems. Later in the day, I took the Freedom Guardian with me to an entirely different part of towm. It was still frozen. By bedtime (12+ hours after I noticed the problem) it was still frozen.
On my call with tech support I asked "Can I reboot it somehow?" They told me I could not and nor could they.
I eventually decided I would let it run out of battery charge, in the expectation that would trigger a reboot once I charged it up again. Sure enough, that worked fine. And so the next day I was back in action. Would the average user have thought of this? I am not so sure. And if that was the day I needed the product I would have been out of luck.
The combination of this "frozen" failure mode, with a tech support team that did not have a solution, seems like a black mark to me.
There is a fairly simple and basic web App and accompanying mobile phone App for caregivers.
I had some difficulty logging in to this on occasion, but did not try and resolve why that was.
Like the MobileHelp Smart App, this App lets you add caregivers. However unlike the MobileHelp App, the Freedom Guardian App does not appear to have any way to manage privacy of data.
So, anyone who is in the carer circle can see the location of the watch (and you) at any time. They can also ping it to find the location if need be.
This is a useful feature for caregivers. But we would like to see a privacy setting to manage who could access this, rather than have all caregivers access location.
Messaging and Reminders
For an extra monthly fee it is possible to have the Caregiver App send messages and reminders to the Freedom Guardian. We did not test this feature. However it might help to make the product even more "smartwatch-like" perhaps.
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Product Line & Company: Medical Guardian
About this Research
This product review is part of an extensive series of medical alert system reviews of over 50 products, including hands-on evaluation and real-world testing of the most promising ones, in real-world situations.
These reviews and analyses are part of our Research Project designed to help older adults and their families Choose the Right Medical Alert System for THEM — the result of which is our Medical Alert Systems: Selection Guide.
We have tried hard to make this research as independent and objective as possible. It has not been funded or sponsored by any of the vendors of these products, and includes no advertising or "sponsored content". The team that conducted this research has strong scientific, clinical, and aging services backgrounds. You can read more about the team that did this research at the links above.
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