Wearables

Xiaomi Mi Band 1S Review: $25 FitBit Killer?

The Xiaomi Mi Band 1S is the successor to the incredibly cheap and wildly successful Xiaomi Mi Band that sold for a meagre $20. Adding in a heartrate monitor whilst sticking closely to the minimalist design of its predecessor, can this $25 fitness tracker hold its own against giants such as FitBit?

I want to say thanks to GeekBuying for providing a sample to review.

Check Price at GeekBuying

Who’s It For?

The Xiaomi Mi Band 1S is for anyone looking for a gadget to motivate them to excercise and allow them to track their efforts, particularly if you’re on a budget.

What’s Inside The Box?

The Xiaomi Mi Band 1S comes with the basics to get you started:

  • 1x Xiaomi Mi Band 1S fitness tracker
  • 1x Silicone wristband
  • 1x USB charging cable
  • 1x Instruction Manual

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Xiaomi Mi Band 1S Review: Design

The Xiaomi Mi Band 1S comes as two components – a silicon wristband and the actual fitness tracker itself.

The actual fitness tracker uses a two tone design, with a black base and a beautifully finished aluminium top. The top houses three discrete white LEDs which report your progress against the day’s goals.

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The fact that the fitness tracker is separate from the band is fantastic, as both Xiaomi and third parties have released a whole host of alternative bands, from alternative colours to premium materials like leather and stainless steel. I really liked the look of the official leather band which definitely allows the fitness tracker to blend in in more formal settings.

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Xiaomi Mi Band 1S Review: Using It

Charging the band is a matter of slipping the unit into the included charging cable and then plugging it into a USB port. A full charge takes around an hour or so.

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Using the unit is mostly handled via the Mi Fitness app which is available on both iOS and Android. After signing up for a Mi Account, the app guides you through pairing the band. The whole process is pretty painless. The app also provides support for both Xiaomi’s smart scale and smart running shoes if you’re interested in the rest of Xiaomi’s health products.

The app itself is simple and fairly intuitive, with separate pages dedicated to steps and sleep tracking. A menu allows you to access other features such as the heartrate monitor and silent alarm.

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However, for those not wanting to glance at their phone every 5 seconds to track their progress, you can also use the gesture-activated LEDs. The three white lights each represent a third of your daily target. It’s meant to automatically trigger when you naturally raise your wrist, though I found the gesture detection to be inconsistent, only activating around 75% of the time.

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Pedometer accuracy on the Xiaomi Mi Band 1S was generally good but did have a tendency to overestimate my activity compared to other pedometers. For example, whilst both my iPhone 6 and FitBit Zip reporting around 11600 steps over the course of my day, the Xiaomi Mi Band 1S was 9% higher at 12600 steps.

The heart rate monitor was as accurate as other optical heart rate monitors I tested, including the Zeblaze Crystal. It was pretty consistent too, with readings remaining with a few beats per minute when taken in quick succession. It’s important to note that the heartrate monitor has to be triggered manually. Those wanting continuous heart rate monitoring during their workouts will need to look at something like the FitBit Charge HR.

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Sleep is automatically tracked but it’s definitely harder to evaluate its accuracy. The app breaks sleep into light and deep sleep periods, presumably by using motion to detect how deep you’re sleeping. There’s an option to periodically check your heartrate when you’re sleeping to improve accuracy too which I’d recommend you turn on.

From what I could tell, it was able to pick up roughly when I fell asleep and if I woke up during the night.

Speaking of sleep, the silent alarm worked really well waking me up. After setting an alarm in the app (including recurring alarms) , it’ll vibrate to wake you up without disturbing anyone else. There’s also an “Early Wake Up” mode which Xiaomi claims will wake you at the optimal time based on your sleep cycle but all it seemed to do was wake me up about 30 minutes before I wanted to without any noticeable benefit.

Similarly, you can also activate a call notification mode that causes the Mi Band to vibrate when you receive a call. It worked well, but not knowing who’s actually calling and being able to reject a call from the device limits its usefulness.

Xiaomi Mi Band 1S Review: Battery Life

For a fitness tracker with so many features, battery life is incredible. Despite wearing it almost non-stop for a month, using the silent alarm and heartrate monitor regularly, I still had about 30% battery remaining. This is how all fitness trackers should be.

That being said, turning on the call notification function does take a serious hit to battery life so keep that in mind.

Should You Get One?

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I’m going to be blunt. YES. If you’re even remotely wanting to track your exercise, you need one of these on your wrist. For only $25, you’re getting a stylish, well-made fitness tracker with an impressive set of features. Sure it doesn’t have continuous heartrate monitoring and it tends to slightly overestimate your steps, but it’s also a fraction of the cost of its competitors and works well as a motivator to get you moving.

Getting One

The Xiaomi Mi Band 1S is available from GeekBuying for around $25.

Check Price at GeekBuying

Alternatively, it’s available from GearBest, Banggood and Amazon.

Mlais Reveals an Android Wear Smartwatch of their Own

Hot on the heels of Elephone’s reveal of the Ele Watch, their first Android Wear smartwatch, smartphone manufacturer Mlais have unveiled their own.

Details are very limited at this stage, with some filtered images revealing a round screen and metal frame, presumably stainless steel.

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There’s two different watch bands on show. The first appears to be a leather style band whilst the other is a metal mesh design.

Mlais’ Facebook post also mentions that the device will be IP67 rated.

There’s no availability information at present so keep posted for more news.

No.1 G2 Smartwatch Review

Wearables is a massive growth area and growth is anticipated to continue into 2015. Whilst devices such as the Pebble have taken off, a number of other wearables supporting a single OS have entered the market such as the Apple Watch and Galaxy Gear.

The No. 1 G2 is a new device from the phone manufacturer which borrows heavily from the Galaxy Gear but offers both Android and iOS compatibility. 

Read moreNo.1 G2 Smartwatch Review

Wearables Watch

How Wearables Will Influence Home Theatre

Wearables are the new buzzword, and many are claiming it’s the “next big thing” in Consumer electronics. These devices, effectively computers attached to your body (often wrist-based),  offer a whole raft of functionality – from notifications to health tracking. But it’s only recently that there has been an explosion of wearable devices vying for consumer cash. It’s undoubtedly a growing market, although everyone is remaining tight-lipped about just how big of a market it is. Current forecasts put it as approximately $6B in 2016, according to IMS Research – that’s a big pie and only expected to keep growing as both more players enter and the overall quality and utility of wearables continues to evolve.

On the eve of the heavily anticipated but theoretical launch of the Apple iWatch, and following a release of a number of wearable devices such as the Moto 360 and Galaxy Gear, it’s probably a good idea to investigate how these wearables could influence our home theatres and media consumption.

Wearables Foundations: The Smartphone

So let’s start with the smartphone, the near-ubiquitous device permanently glued to everyone’s hand, head or thigh. How has this device shaped our home theatres?

There are two key categories to really consider: interaction and media consumption.

Smartphones have changed how we interact with our home theatre systems dramatically, often becoming another gateway to our devices. It’s rare to see a home theatre component that doesn’t feature some form of smartphone connectivity, with many such as the WDTV or Samsung devices featuring app-based remote controls. Our favourite frontend Kodi (formerly XBMC) even offers support for remote control via iOS and Android applications.

Media consumption is another element – watching videos on the go or on the couch used to be reserved to laptops but now any smartphone can become a media center. A search on iTunes or Google Play for “Video Player” will return hundreds of applications that will play almost any video format out there, and from wherever you have it – whether it’s on Youtube, your SD card or your Network Attached Storage (NAS).

So how does this relate to wearables?

Well, just like the modern smartphone grew into the cornerstone device that it is now, wearables are still at this embryonic stage, with everyone trying to decide how they can best be used. So we’ve seen fitness tracking, notifications and alarms incorporated into their feature sets to see what resonates with consumers. The inevitable outcome of this: remote control applications for your home theatre components.

Imagine being able to tap your wearable to pause your movie as you grab a drink, or swipe it to skip that song that you hate. This is convenience at its finest, with no need to awkwardly get your phone out of your pocket get to the remote app. We are already starting to see this emerge, with Yatse, our favourite XBMC remote for Android, having integrated Android Wear support, allowing remote control and viewing “Now Playing” information. This is where I see wearables integrating into our living room.

There is also the possibility of using wearables for location tracking. This is something that Bluetooth devices have been used for for some time. As your wearable is always on you, it can be used to work out where you are. For example, your HTPC could automatically pause your movie when you leave the room. This sort of technology is already being implemented in Smartphones, with devices such as the Moto X disabling the lock screen if specific Bluetooth devices are within range.

Media playback is a definite possibility, and I’m sure there will be many attempts at doing so. However, wearables rarely last a few days of regular use so adding multimedia playback, a known battery-killer, is out of the question. Until battery life of wearables is improved dramatically, native media playback will continue to remain in proof-of-concept territory. Furthermore, this is so neglecting any ergonomic issues associate with staring at your wrist for hours.

These are just a few use cases that I’ve hypothesised but, like everything technology-related, only time will tell how wearables can be used fully. With app stores being available for both Android Wear and Pebble, and the rumoured iWatch offering a similar app marketplace, I’m sure developers will create some fascinating use cases, leveraging wearables in ways that are currently unfathomable.

Conclusion

Wearables are a growing market that consumers are starting to take interest in. It won’t be long before wearables replace some of our smartphone functions, and the idea of a wrist-based media hub is definitely appealing for this author.

Where do you see the wearables market heading? What use cases can you think of? Let us know in the comments below. And don’t forget to like and share this article!

Photo Credit: Watch by SplitShire /Cropped from Original