Jawbone Up 3 vs Razer Nabu X vs Huawei Talkband B2: Fitness Trackers Face Off

 

Huawei Talkband B2

HWTB2
RRP:$249.95
Why you’d want one:
I liked the Talkband B2’s predecessor, the Talkband B1 a reasonable amount when I reviewed it last year, and the feedback to my video review suggested that it contained an idea that a lot of people were interested in, namely a combined fitness tracker and Bluetooth headset.¬†Here, have a look: roll the video, Kevin:

The Huawei Talkband B2 takes that initial design and adds a fair amount of pizazz to the design as well as picking up the one big problem I had with the original, which is to say that it’s much more capable of accurate step tracking. Huawei sells the Huawei Talkband B2 in two configurations, a slightly cheaper “sports” version for $229 and the premium “gold” version for $249 with a leather strap, which is the version I’ve tested.
As fitness trackers go, the Huawei Talkband B2 is a bit of a looker, and I’ve had more than one person comment on how unusually stylish I looked while wearing it. Which either means that it really does stand out, or that my friends think that I’ve normally got no style. Hmm.
I liked the fact that the original Talkband B2 included its own USB charging port in the band, but for the Huawei Talkband B2, they’ve gone a different way, with the band itself being an entirely passive strap. The Bluetooth headset uses microUSB charging from the rear instead. Charging is quite rapid, and it lasted around four to five days of tracking during my tests, which is decent when you consider that with the inbuilt talk features, it’s essentially a slightly stupid smartwatch. Maybe Feature Watch is the appropriate term? In any case, you should only need to charge it once or twice per week while in use.
As a Bluetooth headset, the Huawei Talkband B2 works quite well, intelligently picking up calls when it’s clicked out of the band and delivering clear audio during my test period. It’s passable — just — as a music playback device if you’re really desperate.
It’s also impressive that Huawei has taken up Jawbone’s opening up of its UP platform into consideration. If you’re switching from an existing UP tracker, you don’t have to lose all your data, because the Huawei Talkband B2 will happily synchronise with an existing UP account, so if you’ve got friends issuing challenges, you can answer them by running around with the Huawei Talkband B2 in place.
Why you wouldn’t:
There are still some quirks that Huawei needs to iron out in the design and implementation of the Huawei Talkband B2. The glossy, mirrored display is great late at night, but if you’re a fan of a jog under the hot midday sun, you’ll struggle to make out the display, which is irritating if you’re trying to exercise to a specific target number.
The Huawei Talkband B2 tracks sleep, and one of the more interesting aspects of that is that it doesn’t require you to explicitly place it in sleep tracking mode. Instead, as long as you’re wearing it, it’ll detect when you’re slumbering and record your sleep data accordingly. At least, that’s the theory. I’m yet to hit a sleep tracker I really like, but the Huawei Talkband B2’s approach is a lot more miss than hit, and it lacks the granular sleep approach of something like the UP3.
I tested the Huawei Talkband B2 paired with an iPhone 6. I found Huawei’s app to be a bit twitchy when it came to recognising that the Huawei Talkband B2 was actually paired. Its notifications are quite chatty, reminding you to sync regularly to update data, but that’s annoying if it then decides that you’re not actually paired. Switching Bluetooth on and off again usually resolved that problem.
The integration with the UP system is quite neat, and for the most part works seamlessly, although for sleep data all it passes are raw numbers, not the details of sleep as it’s tracked it. It manages better for step tracking, with the UP app intelligently working out when I’d been out jogging, so maybe that’s something on the UP platform side. Either way, it’s a limitation to be aware of.
Finally, the Huawei Talkband B2 isn’t waterproof to any particular extent. That’s not exactly surprising given what it is. I don’t think too many folk do waterproof Bluetooth, because the technology itself transmits poorly through water, but it does mean you’d need to be careful running in the rain with the Huawei Talkband B2.
Fat Duck Verdict:
Huawei’s taken a good idea in the Talkband B1 and made it a lot better. It’s not quite perfect — I do wish that display screen wasn’t quite so reflective, and that sleep tracking worked better — but of the three bands tested here, it’s the one I’d keep on my wrist in the long term.

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