Mi Band 2 Review: A New Champion among Fitness Trackers

The Mi Band is one of the most successful products for Xiaomi in India. Announced in Early 2016, according to an IDC survey over a short period of time it has become the number one wearable brand in India with over 27% market. Globally, Xiaomi takes the second position followed by Apple. Fitbit leads there. We now have Mi Band 2, as an upgrade to the original Fitness Band which will be available in India around the festival season later this year.

When you unbox it, the contents are similar to the earlier edition of the band. You are provided with a tracker module, a charging cradle, a manual and the band. The cradle is where you slide in the module and the other end connects to an USB port for charging. You do have an option to buy different color straps/bands.

Unboxing Xiaomi Mi Band 2

Hardware, Look and Feel:

Mi has introduced a display to the tracker module. The screen on the tracker isn’t touch sensitive.However, it responds to the taps and touches on the capacitive button. The tracker displays time, number of steps, the distance covered, heart rate, calories burnt, call alerts, alarms etc.

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 Review

The band connects to your smartphone using Bluetooth 4.0 LE (Low Energy) protocol. This is an IP67 water resistant band which can withstand a splash but its not water proof so you can’t wear your band during your swimming sessions.

The metallic clasp resembles the touch button of the module giving it a very premium look. The band feels very comfortable even after using for long hours.

The Mi band 2 also has an optical heart rate sensor which isn’t continuous like the Fitbit Charge HR. So every-time you scan your vitals from the band, the heart-rate is scanned and displayed.It can be checked from the Mi band App on your phone as well.

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 HR Sensor

I used this band for over 10 days and I have to say that, I am pleasantly surprised with the results. I used it alongside my Fitbit Blaze on the same hand to compare the results. The difference was about 500 steps and I am unsure on which of them is inaccurate. However, its is a small number to complain as every band comes with some level of variance.

Software, User Experience:

The awesomeness of the Mi Band is not just in the hardware, but the software is phenomenal too. The Mi Fit App is available for both iOS and Android. Once you download, you have to create a Mi account to get started. Enter the numbers that matter, set your goals, pair your tracker and Voila! you are good to go.

The Mi Fit app has evolved over years and it now gives you the information in a neater dashboard along with other nifty options. For accuracy of the tracking data the app lets you choose between the hands you would wear the band on. The App  now supports integration with Google Fit as well.

Call alerts work neatly , I really liked the feature where you can ignore alerts from unknown numbers.

I loved the Idle Alert feature. Wherein if you are idle for more than an hour, the Mi band gives you a nudge and vibrates so that you get moving, probably take a small walk or even stretch and stay active. This is useful especially when your work involves sitting for long hours. You also have the option to tune this according to your working hours.

Solid design and less intrusive construction makes this band very comfortable to wear all through the day even while asleep. Thereby, helping in analyzing your sleep routine along with other activities.

You can track your daily, weekly and monthly progress graphically, though it would be great if we have some algorithms built which would help us by making more sense of these numbers similar to what Jawbone does with its Smart Coach.

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 Mi Fit App

I would’ve wished if the software had an option of an alarm where the device wakes you up, when you are in light sleep, thereby helping you to wake up more refreshed.

I also hope that the app gets better on auto detecting activities. Like, when you take a quick run. There’s no GPS for accurate tracking or any kind of extra features for runners.

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

It’s a is a no brainer that Mi band 2 is an affordable and fantastic fitness tracking band that gives you a premium feel, great hardware and software and to top all that, the Heart Rate sensor at roughly about 1500 INR is a steal. The official prices haven’t been announced yet. The competition is selling bands at 7-8 times higher than this price.

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 Construction

Personally I think, the biggest advantage is also a pain point for me. The battery is so good on the Mi bands that the first edition of Mi Band used to run happily for little over a month. I would sometimes forget where I had kept my charging dongle. It sounds funny, but this is true. getting a spare charger is a challenge and you can’t charge the module in any other manner.

For Mi band 2 the company claims a battery life of 20 days which should easily be at least 12-15 days on regular usage. Considering the display, its a great deal.

I have always been a fan of the Fitbit Charge HR; a band which doesn’t try to be a smartwatch. Does what its supposed to do and also feels comfortable on hands. The Mi Band 2 adds up to the list of recommendations. This is my favourite affordable band at this moment and I absolutely vouch for the same. If you’re looking to get fit by walking and bringing in a good discipline in your routine, I definitely recommend buying this. Even if not for yourself, this is an ideal gift for your loved ones!

Pebble Time Round Review: Thin, Super Light and a Premium Smartwatch

Pebble introduced their first smartwatch to the market through a kickstarter campaign which was a massive success, collecting around $10 million for development of the smartwatch. This was the most money raised for any product on Kickstarter at that time. Since then Pebble has introduced few models and the Time Round is the latest smartwatch from the company. This smartwatch is super light and thin. The company claims this model to be world’s lightest. To be honest, I can’t think of any other smartwatch which is this thin and most importantly, comfortable on hands. Let us look at the Pebble Time Round Review in this article. The Time Round is available for USD 249 in the US, and on Amazon.in for a price of INR 13599 in India.

Hardware, Look and Feel:

The Pebble Time Round is made up of stainless steel and looks beautiful. The all-metal chassis and smooth beveled edges adds to the looks. Its thin and feels super premium. The construction of the body feels very strong and sturdy. The glass on the top blends very well with the edges. The side buttons has an excellent feel and are spaced well. The Pebble Time Round is easily the best wearable the company has brought to market, not only in the looks; but to the quality of construction, materials used and the well-designed body.

Pebble Time Round Back Stainless SteelThe bezel is slightly a turn-off though. The Display is certainly not as rich or colorful as brighter OLED panels, but it’s still works perfectly. Time Round is much more legible under bright sunlight. Thanks to the e-paper display. This also means, that the display remains on at all times. The display is slightly dim when you compare it with other smartwatches. However, that affects the battery life.

Pebble Time Round Weather

The company has sacrificed a lot of battery life to make the watch as small and thin as possible. This isn’t a great deal breaker. I get about 2 days of battery life. The Time Round also charges super quick. With just 15 minutes, the watch gets about a 60% charge.

Pebble Time Round Weather App

Software, User Experience:

Pebble’s software is simple. Its efficient and delivers what it promises. The Pebble Time Round can display notifications from a phone paired over Bluetooth, iOS and Android devices only.

The OS has a feature called Timeline that lets you scroll through past or upcoming information, such as weather, sports, calendar appointments, messages, or missed calls. The OS has another feature called ‘Quiet time’ which gives you an option to turn off notifications on certain days or time when you don’t want to get notified.

Pebble Time Round Call Notification

The device supports step counting and sleep tracking through 3rd party apps. The watch also has support for Alarms and alerts. Further, Pebble’s app store has a lot of apps to choose from, mostly free. The store currently has over 150 apps and 400 watch faces.

I have an iPhone; Can I buy the Pebble Time Round?

Well to be honest, There is no smartwatch worth buying other than the Apple Watch for you. Android Wear does support, notifications and other actions on your iPhone, but it isn’t as powerful.

The Pebble software gives you support for call alerts and app notifications on your iPhone. However, it isn’t as powerful as on Android phones. You get much finer control and many more useful features when paired with an Android phone. You will be able to view and dismiss notifications, trigger voice commands on supported apps; however, the notifications are non-actionable – you won’t be able to delete an email, like a FB post or even replying back to a message by voice, which is possible on the Android phones. I heard Pebble is working on better iOS integration. Let’s wait and watch.

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

At INR 13599 ($249 in the US), the Time Round is more expensive than it looks; which may feel a bummer. However, this is the first smartwatch I’ve loved using. I’ve tried a number of smartwatches in the past. My most favorite was the Moto 360. I can say that with the Pebble Time Round I didn’t feel like I was actually wearing a smartwatch, it pretty much looked like a standard one and I like the simplistic approach.

The Battery on the Pebble Time Round easily lasts two days, and charges super quick as well. The OS is simple, fast and even the community of developers and users is growing. The watch is Thin, light and very comfortable on hands.

Touchscreen, Lack of GPS and Heart Rate sensor does look like a negative points, when you compare this with other Android Wear watches available in the market. We would’ve loved the watch to be water proof (Its just SplashProof). The round display lacks some support from existing developers who had developed apps for other variants of Pebble. A better iOS support would’ve been great as well.

Pebble Time Round Watch Face

The Time Round will definitely impress quite a few people. If you want a simple smartwatch that’s great for notifications and, serves the purpose to show you the time, the Pebble Time Round is a worthy option. If fits smaller wrists as well. Also, If you are wary about smartwatches to be too geeky, this is probably one watch you should try. It looks subtle and very impressive.