15/07/2015

Xaomi MI smart band - Chinese tech at Chinese pricing

There are lots of smartbands on the market at the moment all claiming to aid fittness by quantifying activity on a daily basis. Many companies have been preaching expensive devices which limit their attractiveness to the general market, however there are now devices coming out at the lower end of the market (such as the Jawbone UP Move which was reviewed recently). Lower pricing means that more consumers will use these devices and start tracking what they're doing.

Xaomi are a Chinese mobile phone maker who have been producing a range of phones that compete with Samsung's Galaxy offerings. It has recently been branching out into other products such as Internet TV's and fittness products.

Xaomi recently launched the Mi band, originally only available in China, it's now available to the wider market. The Mi band arrives in a rather plain card box box and contains the Mi unit (in aluminium) which fits into a silicon strap with 'pop' style clasp so it's easy to fit. There's also an odd looking USB charging cable and some Chinese instructions. Not a lot in the box but it's pretty much self explanatory.

First thing to do is charge the Mi unit by placing it on to the charging cable and plugging it into a spare USB port. Then download the app (available for iOS and Android, search for Xaomi) and then it's ready to start measuring.

There's no display on the band, just 3 LEDs. These correspond with either pairing or the amount of effort you have made to complete your steps. The band paired with a Galaxy Note 4 and it's lasted several days without a recharge.

The interface on the "Mi fit" app is faily simple with a round counter showing how far you've progressed towards your step goals. It tracks sleep and steps like most of the others and does a good job. Compared to other apps such as the S Health app on the phone and another band it showed the similar data for steps and mileage. The interface is relatively simple as can be seen below:

The app shows how you have been doing everytime you open it. There is no background syncing going on, which may be a good thing for battery life. The band tells you with a buzz when you have reached your step goal anyhow. The app does though have a couple of differences, compared to others. It shows you the amount of fat you have burned which is fairly depressing. A US band probably wouldn't show this information because it could be seen as negative. There are also no goals to reach like Nike and there are no pep talks such as Fitbit and Jawbone. Very plain and simple and to the point. Sleep tracking is automatic without having to press anything which is a nice feature (the Misfit Shine also does this and though the Microsoft band has a sleep mode, it can auto-detect sleep if you forget to manually set it) but there is no info apart from a histogram about what it looked like.

Bacause the Xaomi Mi band is basic, it also misses some of the accelarometer information of some of the other devices and it cannot necessarily differentiate between different activities like other apps. There is also no way of telling it what you are doing and for how long. For example last week having walked about a bit and cycled about 35 miles the Samsung app shows this:

While the Xaomi App shows this:

Conclusion

So even though the Xaomi Mi band is not great at everything and there is still some work to do its not a bad piece of kit. The fact you can also get it for £15.99 on Amazon is an amazing deal!

4/5 for general getting fitter (walking and running) 1/5 for sports people

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