Wearables

Huawei's 2-in-1 fitness tracker stays basic

Huawei's TalkBand B2 comes in the premium gold version (right) with a leather strap and the sports version that uses a plastic strap. Pairing the device to the phone is simple using the Huawei Wear app.
Huawei's TalkBand B2 comes in the premium gold version (right) with a leather strap and the sports version that uses a plastic strap. Pairing the device to the phone is simple using the Huawei Wear app.PHOTO: HUAWEI

It doubles as Bluetooth earpiece, but notification capabilities are limited

That space on your wrist, where a watch would normally sit, is now considered prime real estate by the tech industry.

As more companies refine what they can cobble together to put there, be it a smartwatch, fitness tracker or a combination of both, others are happy to try for something new.

Huawei's TalkBand B2, the company's second attempt at combining a fitness tracker with a Bluetooth earpiece, is one such attempt.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $239 (sports edition), $299 (gold edition)

    DISPLAY: 0.73 inch, 128 x 88 pixels

    COMPATIBLE OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 4.0 and above, and iOS 7 and above

    BATTERY: 95 mAh


    RATING

    DESIGN: 3/5

    FEATURES: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

Think of it as a Bluetooth earpiece you can store on a strap on your wrist.

The flat surface of the earpiece houses a small display that shows incoming calls.

While not perfect, it is a device that does make some sense.

Think of it as a Bluetooth earpiece you can store on a strap on your wrist.

The flat surface of the earpiece houses a small display that shows incoming calls. When the earpiece is not in use, it shows the time, battery life and date.

While its predecessor was a plastic gadget destined for the garbage bin, the B2 refines it with the use of metal.

There are two versions of the B2.

The premium gold version uses a leather strap, while the sports unit, which is reviewed here, uses a plastic strap.

The strap fits nicely, and has enough notches to fit wrists of many sizes. The cradle for the Bluetooth earpiece is pretty big but has no other purpose, since the electronics are in the earpiece.

The cradle is big enough, so the rubber ear caps you pick to fit on the earpiece will slot in nicely.

There are two buttons on each side of the cradle that lock the earpiece in place, as well as release it.

The B2 is water resistant, so it can go into the shower with you.

Pairing the device to your phone is simple using the Huawei Wear app. The device vibrates and displays the caller ID for incoming calls. Alas, that is the extent of its notification capabilities, as incoming SMS messages, e-mail and others are not channelled to the smart device.

The great part is that the device can determine if you are using the Bluetooth earpiece or the phone to answer the call, so you do not make the mistake of speaking into the wrong device when answering a call. The downside is that the earpiece comes with only one button, which turns the standby mode on or off. If you are on a call and need to adjust the volume, you have to reach for your phone to do so.

The fitness tracker is pretty basic.

It tracks your movements and translates it into walking and cycling. However, there were instances when the B2 said I was cycling, when all I did was take the train.

You can set the device to remind you to get off your chair at different intervals in a day, but once you get used to a vibrating wrist device, you tend to ignore it.

The automatic sleep tracking feature works well, unlike that of the Jawbone Up3.

It managed to record my sleeping patterns every night.

It can also connect to the Jawbone app for activity tracking.

But when I tried it, I was annoyed by the app's constant request for me to sign in to the connection every time I tapped on the option.

In the end, I did not see the benefits of this pairing.

Battery life is rated at six days.

I clocked a little under five days under average use conditions.

• Verdict: The TalkBand B2 is well made, but offers only basic features for the convenience of having two devices in one.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2015, with the headline 'Huawei's 2-in-1 fitness tracker stays basic'. Print Edition | Subscribe