The fitness tracking revolution is in full swing and people are loving the unprecedented window into the mechanics of their own health. That’s right, folks–we’re crunching data and stomachs like never before! Of course that means it’s a thriving market with a slew of handy products vying for your dollars. So how does the SmartBand 2, Sony’s latest offering in the “lifestyle by numbers” arena, stack up against the competition? Read below to see if this is the tracker for you.
In the design department, the SmartBand 2 marks a discernible improvement over its predecessor thanks to a superior wrist band protecting the unit’s Core. The silicone band is light and soft and completely unobtrusive against the wrist so you aren’t disturbed in your sleep or on a run. The gadget is resistant to wear and tear and it’s waterproof with a rating of IP68 (or about 3 metres deep in fresh water for 30 minutes or less). The updated Core widget contains 3 LED indicators to signify the mode it’s in, and a tiny sensor to measure heart rate. A new, adjustable buckle secures the gadget to the wrist with absolute ease. On the purely visual level the band is sleek and minimalist in appearance and comes in your choice of colour. Thumbs up on design!
The SmartBand 2 really takes an intensive approach to both personal health and technology, at least theoretically. Ultimately, this device is all about you. When you review your data on the Lifelog app, you can track fluctuations in your heart rate and energy levels and compare those fluctuations with the activity that brought them on. In other words the SmartBand 2 aims for a true understanding of not just your body’s internal changes, but the external stimuli that brought about those changes. When used properly, you can begin to shape your outside experiences to better suit your internal needs.
Among the band’s other features is a pulse monitor that uses heart rate variability to measure the milliseconds between each heartbeat and determine stress levels. The gadget can also be put in STAMINA mode to preserve battery life. Additionally, the SmartBand 2 offers an improved method of sleep monitoring by breaking down your activity into light and deep sleep. Again, the goal is to provide the user with an intensive knowledge of health patterns so as to optimize heart rates and stress levels. Also included is a “smart wake-up” feature, basically an alarm luring you out of a light sleep at the ideal time.
From the perspective of pure user-friendliness, the SmartBand 2 is aces, but when it comes to actual functionality the device begins to waver in its effectiveness. Frankly, the SmartBand 2 does leave a little to be desired as far as getting the job done. Like many other activity trackers of its kind, there is a tendency for the data to be just plain wrong. For example, the gadget has been known to measure light sleep as walking, sitting as running, and in some cases it doesn’t measure time, distance or heart rate with the kind of accuracy one might hope. Also the “smart wake up” alarm is kind of noisy and annoying.
On the other hand, these are details that vary from user to user and there are plenty of people out there who haven’t encountered the slightest glitch with their device. In other words, expect a very user-friendly gadget that provides a detailed glimpse into fitness activity but not necessarily a foolproof level of dependability and accuracy.
The goal of fitness tracking is to gain a better understanding of self and Sony’s SmartBand 2 is a step in the right direction. The product clearly aims to please in both design and functionality and delivers for the most part. It’s light, comfortable and generally very effective. Just don’t expect 100% accuracy.