A pretty accurate fitness tracker, with lots of data available for the nerdy weekend athlete. The lack of integration with other apps and devices makes it not ready for primetime.
The Peak was announced late last year, and it was the first product launched since Basis Science was purchased by Intel. I was very excited, but didn’t want to shell out the $199 for a heart rate monitor until all the features announced were actually available. And, I was rocking the Samsung watch at the time, so the purchase just got tossed aside. After returning to the iPhone, and having to choose a new fitness watch, I purchased the Peak. I’ve used the watch for a little over a month now, nearly 24 x 7, only taking breaks to charge it. So, it’s seen several activities, from yoga to crossfit, to running and Netflix marathons.
The Peak is a sports watch with some serious technology and it captures lots of metrics. It boasts five sensors that monitor heart rate, motion, perspiration, and skin temperature continuously, automatic activity and sleep tracking. From the looks of it, the Basis is a powerhouse amongst the sports watches available in the market, and would be the ultimate device for everyday exercising.
I purchased the black model, as I figured the white version, while much better looking, would look disgusting after two days.
The case feels solid, as it is made from aircraft grade aluminum and gorilla glass. It seems that it would hold up against dents and scratches, and while pretty big for my girly wrists, didn’t overwhelm them. Its thickness is comparable to any other watch, but the straps were a bit clunky for a female user. I could see it fitting in just fine with a man’s outfits, but I would like to purchase the leather strap, to make it fit in with my wardrobe a bit better. However, the strap was comfortable through most workouts, except one fateful humid day, where the strap decided to leave tons of red marks on my wrist. As you can see in the picture below, my FitBit left similar marks, so I’m chalking it up to the workout gods punishing me for not working as hard as I should that day:
The Basis does not have ANY buttons, so all interaction is done through its touchscreen interface. I never had a problem with the unit not registering swipes, but when in the rain or any time water touched the screen, the watch would go a bit crazy, swiping through screens, starting and stopping the stopwatch without me touching it. It still kept track of my activity despite all the action, so no harm done.
Optical heart rate measurement isn’t an exact science to start with. Some individuals can get right on the money, while others are off by a lot, as it all depends on your skin tone, hair density, body fat, and tons of other factors. I have never had an issue using them, and the Basis is no different: I had consistent, accurate readings throughout the day. When comparing to the FitBit Charge HR and my Garmin Chest Strap, the readings were identical, deviating by less than 1%.
As an everyday activity tracker, the Basis does the job of any $50 tracker on the market. It tracks total steps and calories pretty accurately, however it doesn’t keep track of distance or floors climbed like many of its competitors do. It records little burst of activity, like walking to your fridge to get a beer, and calculates the calories you burned doing so, the duration and how long ago it happened.
The one area that separates it from most trackers is that is separates walking from running steps. When you start your run, it goes into running mode, and it displays steps, calories, heart rate and time on the screen, so you can keep track of your zones while you’re training. One downside is that it stops tracking it if you need to take a break, or stop at a street crossing or take a drink, so your total time is not as accurate. You can use the stopwatch, but I would like to see it in incorporate all aspects of the run in one screen.
I wish the Basis had a feature like most trackers to start an exercise session, so I could bypass the lack of support for anything other than running and log my exercises.
Unlike many other activity trackers, the Basis will automatically recognize sleep. It monitors three levels of sleep, and you can dive into the details once you are awake. The one downside is that it tracks those Netflix marathons as light sleep sessions.
There is no desktop sync capability, so your watch has to be connected to a mobile device to log all the data, which is available on both the mobile and desktop apps.
The interface looks great! The dashboard gives you a glimpse of your daily activities, and much like most other apps, has a chronological feed of all your sleep, steps, and activities. It is a bit slow to sync, but your data will end up there at one point.
If you dive in, you can start setting up habits, which is a game in itself. Every day, you try to meet a goal, and earn points to unlock other goals. Habits range from wearing your watch for at least 12 hours, to torching calories and waking up at a certain time.
This one if my favorite. The interface is a bit outdated, but the amount of data available is awesome! You can analyze each workout in excruciating detail, and, although I have no idea what to do with all this raw data, my inner geek screams with joy at the sight of skin temperature and perspiration data. There’s also an export feature, which may be useful if you can use an external analytics service to make sense of all the data.
The biggest miss in my book. I use several apps to track my workouts, setup nutrition and running plans, and the Basis did not sync with anything other than Apple Health. That is great and all, but I had to buy two other apps to get it to sync with MyFitnessPal, Pact and MapMyRun.
The developers have promised MyFitnessPal integration, but as I’m writing this, it still isn’t available.
Calls and texts were displayed with no issues (when the phone was paired correctly), and cleared themselves out in a few minutes, so I didn’t have to go through all of them to clear it.
Customers were plagued by syncing issues when the watch was first launched, and Basis has said the pairing problems were resolved on iOS. However, I had to constantly pair my phone with the Basis again, and every time I walked away from my phone, I would get a nice little warning, saying the watch couldn’t find the app.
I really, really wanted to like the Basis Peak. It has so much potential, but it fell very short of greatness. It is one of the most accurate wrist trackers out there, and I like having the enormous amount of data available to me (despite not knowing what to do with it), but since it didn’t track most my activities nor sync with most of my apps, I ended up trading it in for something else.