David Pierce reviewing the new Microsoft Band for The Verge:
I don’t even want it to be a smartwatch. Smartwatches and trackers just have fundamentally different, even competing needs. A smartwatch must have a big, useful screen. It must also be fashionable and easy to interact with. I’ll put it on in the morning, matching it my outfit. I’ll take it off at night and when I shower. A tracker, on the other hand, must be invisible. It should just be there, all the time, collecting data without me ever thinking about it. I don’t know how any company will resolve those two things, and it seems to me that the smart bet is making the best of one or the other. Right now the Band straddles the middle, and it doesn’t quite work.
He’s right about smartwatches and fitness trackers being fundamentally different. I think that explains part of my disappointment with Apple Watch: I’m not convinced yet on the value of smartwatches, so I mostly wanted to see a no compromises fitness tracker (however unlikely a fitness-focused device from Apple was).
I’ve resisted buying a fitness tracker for more than a year for the fact that most didn’t seem to do any more than an iPhone app could do.
The Basis was supposed to be the ultimate fitness tracker, but it’s big, ugly and I’ve heard of it dying on multiple people.
The Microsoft Band clearly doesn’t fit that bill, according to The Verge’s review.
The Fitbit Charge HR looks like it checks most of the boxes on my list (long battery life, elevation tracking, heart rate monitoring, wireless syncing) though it seems to still rely on just an accelerometer for sleep tracking, which, I’ve read, isn’t exactly accurate.
Then there’s the Jawbone Up3, announced a few days after the Fitbit Charge, which, while it inexplicably lacks elevation tracking (which I like for hiking in the mountains), “uses bioimpedance sensors that measure heart rate, respiration rate, body temperature, galvanic skin response as well as an accelerometer” for sleep tracking. Curiously, the Up3 FAQ originally contained some questions about contactless payment that clearly weren’t ready for primetime and were quickly removed. Is that a sleeper feature that is going to be added with a future firmware update? Either way, this might be the device that finally wins a spot on my wrist.
Neither the Fitbit nor Jawbone has a sale date, but the Jawbone is available for preorder.