Do not rage on me after reading the heading. Of course, I know the difference between smart watch and fitness tracker. And I don’t want to impose my opinion to anyone. But, using different smart watches, I always find myself thinking that this is an unnecessary thing for me and/or I do not understand this branch of wearable electronics development (my attitude to the tablets is the same). So I tried to find out why is the “smart” helper is not helpful but annoying. However, I do not deny the fact that both tablets and smart watches are needed by some of you. I wanted to write this article for a long time and have not done it yet just because I had absolutely no time. But I managed to find some free time and now I am ready to tell you everything I think about wearable gadgets.
Pretty sure that after reading this article most of you would say (or just think) that “he just have not used Apple Watch/Samsung Gear S3/etc”, and you would be right. But you won’t be able to convince me that there is a big difference between Apple Watch and another similar device on Android Wear, Tizen and other platforms (except Pebble, but that’s another conversation). In this article I will handle the general concepts despiting the functionality of particular devices or OS, and try to prove (in comments) that I’m wrong. In fact, all my claims to the watches are not intended to a software component at all.
Now I will try to explain wich sides, on my opinion, are bad in smart watches and at the same time are good in Xiaomi Mi Band 2.
All about wearables
Every smart watch has large size and weight. This applies both to the body and band or strap. Like it or not, it’s felt in the hand. And after day of using you want to take off the watch. This automatically cancels such necessary (for me) functions as tracking of sleep and intelligent awakening via vibration.
Xiaomi Mi Band (any model) – small and light, they hardly felt in the hand and I wear them day and night, for weeks and months without taking off. Without any discomfort. Tracking of sleep is used constantly, alarm clock – when it is neccessary. The main thing – these functions are always with me, and just when they are needed.
Another thing that annoys me when using a smart watch – shower, pool, beach. Not only that the clock should be take off and worn every time, you also worry about its safety in public places. Therefore, when you go to the beach, for example, it is better not to wear the watch at all. Obviously, you will not be able to use its features, if you leave the device at home or in a hotel room.
P.S. Of course, many watches are protected against dust and moisture. But I’m scary to swim with it, especially for a long time in the sea. No guarantees, actually.
With Xiaomi Mi Band (1S) I swam in the Red Sea, swam in the mask along the reef for hours. And nothing happened to the bracelet, despite the high salinity of the water. Of course, I did not dive too deep, but often dove on a couple of meters. In any case, the fact remains – you very rarely need to remove this gadget, it is really worn continuously and almost never stops monitoring your activity.
Another aspect that annoys me in the smart watch. And with the current concept of these devices, it can not be fixed. One or two, or may be three days of working. But then you need to take off and charge them. But, earlier said, you will need to take it off every evening, so you can chrage it on the night. Is that the reason why manufacturers don’t improve battery life of their devices?
Our grandparents winded up mechanical clocks every day! So you also must be able to connect your “smarties” to charge!
The situation is compounded by the fact that the chargers for each particular gadget model are proprietary. Forgot the charger at home – forget about the “smart” watch for a while. Moreover, these chargers are mostly large and take up a lot of space in the luggage, when traveling. Of course, I know that there are exceptions, but this is a general description of the current situation.
Mi Band works for 20-30 days without charging. And the bracelet is charged quickly. For example, while you are working for a PC or relaxing. Charging cradle is tiny, fits in any pocket. Can be connected to any USB-port, regardless wether it is gadget, network adapter or powerbank. Generally, you can not think about this issue – enough to charge the device at 100% before you go on vacation, and in the majority of cases, the charge will be enough to return at home.
Here we come to the main point, for the sake of what, in fact, “smart” watches are usually purchased. We think that it gives freedom – seems like there is no need to constantly take the smartphone out of your pocket to see what happens there. In practice – all the way around, we have to perform double action – first look at notification on the clock, then take the phone to answer. These prepared patterns are mostly not suitable for specific situations. Voice input in most cases is not acceptable in public places because of confidentiality and ethics.And typing on the tiny keyboard, especially on the go – a dubious pleasure, even at the maximum of its adaptation to the small screen.
Over time, smart watches are another irritant for me, which I instinctively want to get rid of. If you can just ignore the smartphone for a while, and pay attention to it periodically, simultaneously responding to all incoming messages, the watch, vibrating on the hand, is constantly distracting from urgent affairs. When I work with a large screen of PC or laptop, I do not need the watch (or smartphone) – all the information is already in sight. Of course, the clock can be turned off or put in fly mode, but most importantly to not forget to make reverse action later. When I am out of the room and move on foot or in the car – it seems to be comfortable to be notified at the watch, but not the fact that I can instantly respond to the event, and will most likely forget about it. As a result – the smart watch hinder concentrating on the task at hand, and as a consequence, productivity decreases. I noticed that with the watch I take out the smartphone out of pocket even more often than without them.
I like the limited system notifications Xiaomi Mi Band 2. Foremost, bracelet does not duplicate notifications if you’re holding a smartphone with enabled screen. The most important thing – it shows the current time, passed steps, distance, calories burned, heart rate, battery charge, as well as incoming calls and SMS-messages notifications on the screen (this can make somebody laugh, but most important services are still sending SMS, and it is the best way for the parents to transmit text information). Moreover, in the standard Mi Fit applicationonly 5 applications can be assigned to send notifications to the bracelet. And, you know – it’s just wonderful that such a limitation is present! It literally disciplines the user. I chose the most important (for me) – calendar, tasks, notes, Facebook Messenger and a Skype (mostly here I chat with customers and partners). All other applications can wait when I would decide to give them my time and attention. Of course, your set of notifications may be different from mine, and for this there is a choice.
Thus bracelet signals about only really important, urgent and immediate things to me, and if it vibrates – I’m sure that it requires my immediate attention.
Music player control
This feature is not available Mi Band and is present in all “smart” watches. But how important is it? When listening to music outside I use a wireless or wired headset, which has a set of buttons to control playback and volume. So why should I duplicate this functionality in the wrist device?
The price and risks
Of course, I realize that probably incorrect to compare the cost of a car and a bicycle, but, with similar basic functionality, for the price of the cheapest “smart” watches you can buy five Xiaomi Mi Band 2. The bottom line is that you can not worry about the safety of this gadget. Broke or lost – no problem. You take a new, connect to your account, synchronize data and you use it further without much damage to the budget.
As for the risks, probably the most obvious option – break or scratch the wearable device, having hooked it on the wall or hit it against a hard surface (the object). And in the case of smart watch it is quite easily to do it, especially if you have Apple Watch, where glass covers the entire front. In the case of the first generation of Mi Band in the event of impact capsule just flew out of the strap and could be lost. In the second generation, this disadvantage was eliminated – the capsule is taken out only from behind. Of course, now there appeared the glass and the risk of breaking it is much higher. In this case, just go back to the top of section – buy a new device at a low cost and use further.
Changable design of Mi Band 2
In this section we will talk about the property, which in most cases is not peculiar to any “smart” watches. Personally for me this moment does not play any role, I use the standard strap for Mi Band 2. But this fact should be noted. To change a smart watch design is difficult, almost impossible, unless changing the strap/bracelet (if it is removable). And such a procedure is not cheap. Most likely you will need before the purchase will approach to watch design choice responsibly, because it will accompany you constantly during the operation of the gadget.
In the case of Mi Band to change the design (style, image) is very simple. In general, the idea of a functional capsule that can be placed in a third-party compatible strap or bracelet, radically changing the appearance of the device, can be considered a genius. And there are infinitely many options, given the wildly popular Mi Band.
I expect that many readers will say that I was “doing something wrong”, but this article – just an opinion, which you can accept or not accept. Instead of the expected freedom “smart” watches brought me just irritation from the realization that I actually become a slave of device, performing all his orders: turn on, turn off, switch the mode, watch the charge of the battery and do not use a particular function, because I will not live until the evening, put on, take off, put it in a locker, put on the charging, disconnect and put on again. And a hundred times a day: look at me, look at me, look at me! And take care of me, making sure I’m not stolen! What kind of an assistant it is, if I turn in his staff? Too much honor, thank you.
In this time Xiaomi Mi Band 2 – unobtrusive and not annoying device that quietly does his job, claiming the charge only once in 20-30 days. It reminds me of the only really important events without drawing attention to itself regularly and not distracting me once again from real life, in which is so full of distractions.
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