Being a real gadget-o-phile (naturally!), I have been interested to see the rise in popularity of fitness bands/bracelets. They all offer a similar functionality; such as step counter, calories burned, heart rate, sleep monitoring, distance walked, and of course the time. They really come into their own when paired with an app on your smart phone or tablet (Android or Apple!) allowing you to monitor your progress over a period of time. Probably the most well known is the Fit Bit (just google for it or click Fit Bit!) but you’ll pay a premium price, typically around €130 for the Charge 2 variant. I read around a little, and looked at a few reviews of different products and finally settled on the Xiaomi Mi Band 2, and bought three for the family! You’ll find these bands for sale for around €30 – €40 online, though beware there are even some fakes around for these budget bands. Don’t be put off by the low price, they’re just extremely good value. All devices use Bluetooth on your mobile device, a version known as LE (Low Energy) to transfer the data though it is not necessary to be linked to your phone all the time, and I advise only connecting when you want to transfer data or monitor your heart rate throughout the day otherwise you may find your battery running down.
I discovered that the Mi Fit software was not available for use on our Samsung Tablet (the App is for phones only – there are ways round this!) so I opted for a very capable third party app called Notify & Fitness for Mi Band and immediately paid for the upgrade to the Pro version which was around €2,50. The Mi Fit official app was available for my phone, and I installed this, upon which it promptly updated the software (firmware) on the band and the heart rate monitor function stopped working – after fiddling around, I managed to downgrade the firmware and happily is working again (I decided against using the offical Mi Fit app for the time being). I think that I will probably upgrade the firmware as I am now fairly sure that I know how to reset the device so the Heart Rate monitor springs back in to life (going to wait until I’ve taken delivery of some more bands for my online shop). The offical app is ok, but N&F in my opinion is much better. The N&F software can also be set to synchronise it’s data with Google Fit (which you can access on your laptop or mobile device – you get a bit of extra information). For example, you can tell N&F to begin monitoring a ‘workout’ (which can be anything from walking to dancing) and it will tell you how many calories you’ve burnt (it uses your heart rate and steps to work this out), the information will transfer to Google Fit which tells you how many calories for the day (including workouts and normal steps, and any calories you burn off just through normal bodily function – I think this way you can perhaps workout if you are also dieting how many calories you should consume, or rather the figure you perhaps shouldn’t go over!).
Another great function is monitoring your sleep pattern, over the last week I’ve found this to be quite accurate (using the N&F app) – not quite sure how it knows, but it does – it even recorded sleep when I had a crafty snooze in the afternoon in the office! It’s able to distinguish between light sleep, deep sleep, the time you went to sleep and the time you woke up. I think it needs to be in range of your phone/tablet with Bluetooth turned on in order to do this. It also uses your heart rate.
Xiaomi Mi Band at a glance
With original software version
Shown on display & App
- Time (clock)
- Steps Walked
- Heart Rate
Data shown through Notify & Fitness for Mi Band App
- Steps plus graphs
- Calories burned*
- Weight graph
- Power Nap
- and many more options
* with newer firmware you can display these on the Mi Band too
Use discount code MI2 to get 5,00 discount when buying 2 – one for you, one for your spouse/bf/gf/friend! (valid until end Feb 2017)
I was intrigued as to how the Heart Monitoring function worked since the device doesn’t need to sit over where your pulse is on your wrist, and uses some green LED lights. The measurement seems to be accurate too. This is how it works in a nutshell – the green light is ‘shone’ into your wrist, and there is a sensor which determines how much is absorbed by the blood vessels below, or more particularly red blood since red blood absorbs green light – the more blood, the more absorption – there is more blood with each heart beat.