I try and get out and keep myself fit as much as possible, and I’m generally an active person, so knowing a bit more about my daily activity appealed to me – a wearable would definitely suit. So I’ve monitored the wearable “band” market for a while now in the hope of spotting something that was less “me too”, and more “woo-hoo”!
Now, a lot of the kit out there already is, to be honest, incredibly good – take for example FitBit which has a very positive following, and a great design. But as with a lot of devices in a new market, there was numerous copycat kit, with all the same capabilities and similar supporting apps. I decided I’d keep tabs on this infancy in wearables, and jump at the point that I found a device that gave the market a nudge and shouted, “how about this then?”.
It was earlier this year when I spotted the Pivotal Living Band, which is defined on the official website as an activity and sleep wristband, it is a ridiculously cheap wearable which attempts to go up against the bigger players in the market. Whilst not as capable as those available by FitBit, Jawbone or Garmin, the US price of $12 grabbed my attention. It was either going to be complete rubbish, or, a nugget of tech gold.
Since I got one for Christmas (thanks Mrs T!), and based on wearing it now for a couple of days, plus getting to grips with the app, I think that while its not tech gold, it certainly reaches a silver. So what’s good and not so good with it? Here’s my first thoughts…
- Battery life is just fantastic – I charged it on Christmas day for about an hour until the display showed it was full. I’ve worn it 24 hours a day. Its now day 9, and the app shows the battery to be still over 60%!
- The band is very light, with a good range of sizing options, and you forget its on your wrist. I also think its really durable – there’s no scratches or marks picked up on the display or strap at all in the first week.
- I’ve rediscovered that its quite handy to have a watch on your wrist – a quick tap of the band shows the current time. The screen is normally blank to extend the battery life.
- Syncing your device data to the app is really simple (although see initial set-up in “Not So Good”).
- Step tracking seems to reasonably reflect my activity – I’ve not done any scientific tests, but based on what I know I’ve done (or not done!) over Christmas, it seems to give a good indication of how much I’ve travelled around on foot.
- Similar comments can be applied to the activity tracking – when I’ve been “active” its recording that, and when I’ve slobbed on the sofa, its showing that.
- I love the sleep tracking – its a bit of an eye opener to see how much my sleep patterns are affected by the time I go to bed, whether I’ve had a drink, etc. That said, I think I need to RTFM to fully understand what I’m looking at in the UI.
- Calorie burn I presume is calculated on weight/height/activity so if the activity/step tracking is true, then the app is showing I’m burning a sensible amount of calories
- Weight, hydration and nutrition tracking are also there on the home dashboard – I’ve taken a brief look at those but not done a lot with them yet
- There’s a lot of functionality to the device and the app – I keep returning to it each day and find additional features I’d not thought about. For a device this cheap, that is really impressive.
The Not So Good
- Initial set-up was just okay. When you’re super keen to get something new working (like me), you want those initial interactions with a device to be seamless. Account set-up was fine, but I did have trouble getting the device sync to work with the app. I’m not even sure how I eventually synced, but it just felt like a random combination of app fiddling and button pressing on the band.
- Sometimes the UI is just not that intuitive – here’s some examples:
- Some config/options are hidden behind graphical components of the app which are not immediately obvious to press – the “Band” icon on the home page hides all the nice alarm/activity setting.
- The weight screen is still in some sort of disabled mode which I cannot seem to change.
- When config such as the activity reminder is not set, the app tells you, but doesn’t provide a quick link to the actual screen where you can set it.
- The band has a single button to interact with it, and a single press displays the time, plus enables the sync. Continuing to single press takes you through current stats such as steps taken, distance travelled, calories burnt. Double tapping puts the band into sleep tracking mode or stopwatch. The stopwatch function I think is unnecessary, and I’ve got completely stuck trying to get out of it. I doubt anyone would seriously use it – it needs to be dropped
- I’m running the app on my Nexus 5X which is Android Marshmallow. More often than not, the app crashes on initial opening, and I can’t figure out why. Trying to open it a second time is mostly successful, although it can take up to three times. Once the app is running, it does work perfectly.
- I can’t get access to my raw data – all the data captured by the device gets synced to the app, and then pushed up into the cloud. There doesn’t seem to be a way of downloading the data that’s been stored.
- I’m yet to find out what data is encrypted and where – the PDF manual and support pages have no reference to how our personal data is stored. It’s one thing I’ll be asking the vendor over the next few days.
So would I recommend you buy one? Absolutely! For the price, why would you not? It allows you to enter the world of fitness bands cheaply, and starts to give you more insight into your daily activity.
One point of note is that at the point of writing, it’s not possible to purchase the band on Amazon UK anymore (it’s sold out), and the official website is stating it’s also sold out. I also noted that they don’t ship to the UK! I think it will be a case of just monitoring Amazon until they are available again.
I’ll be providing more in depth reviews of individual functions over the coming weeks, so come back to check those out.