If it’s one thing this world doesn’t need more of, it’s fitness trackers. And yet, here’s HTC, the struggling Taiwanese smartphone maker, using Under Armour as the bait for it’s very first wearable device.
The wearable is called the UA B it is the second iteration of the fitness b HTC announced in partnership with Under Armour last year. The first one got scrapped over the summer, which is likely when HTC went back to the drawing board.
Thankfully, the UA B doesn’t live up to its troubled legacy. This is the first fitness tracker I’ve enjoyed wearing around the clock, though my appreciation for it is purely practical. If it’s one thing that this particular gadget excels at in this saturated fitness market, it’s being the best combination of fitness tracking app integration I’ve ever used.
Fitness trackers are all starting to look alike
The UA B is slim, soft, flexible. It’s entirely made of rubber, but it’s smooth enough that it won’t pull at your arm hair. I’m not too keen on the athletic color blocky design of the device, but it’s winter time, so the b has been mostly hiding under long-sleeved clothing. I’ll admit that I don’t like to wear it when I’m donning short sleeves, but I do so grudgingly because the UA B is so comfortable.
I wore the UA B to yoga class, while sleeping ( napping), during showers (it’s water resistant), even out dancing (to count calories, of course). I liked wearing it around so much more than the Fitbit Flex—my last fitness tracker—despite it’s masculine aesthetic. It’s also light enough that I sometimes forgot I was wearing the b at all.
The clasp is adjustable, too, so you can wear it loosely if you like. And if you’re prone to perspiring heavily during a workout, you can easily wipe off the b after the fact.
I have just one slight concern: I’ve gone through two review units, both have had issues popping off my wrist if I clasped the b too tightly. (The first time it happened, the b popped off into the middle of the dance floor, I had to ask for a replacement.) If this happens to you, you can easily pop the b back on as long as the metal teeth that latch into it aren’t bent.
It counts your steps, then some
ke every other one of the dozens of fitness gadgets, the UA B tracks it all: heart rate, calories burned, steps walked, hours slept. It displays simple notifications on its 1.3-inch D touch display, like calendar events text messages, it buzzes you awake if you set an alarm. It also shows the time.
The UA B utilizes a basic tap–swipe mechanism for its oversimplified interface. There is hardly a learning curve here. l you really have to do is keep swiping until you get to the option you’re looking for. In some cases, you’ll see a down arrow appear in the left-h side, which notes that there’s more information below. en you’re done tapping swiping around, you turn off the screen with a simple press of the button.
One of my favorite features of the b is its ability to actively track a workout. at’s more: you can set one of the workout modes to whatever sport or activity it is you practice, the UA B will store that information sync it up to your phone later. The only bummer is that there’s only one slot for your own custom workout. The other three options are running, cycling, gym time. If you’re not interested in those things, you’re out of luck.
Now, the smartest feature of the B is that it automatically kicks in to sleep mode once you’ve dozed off— even if you’re struggling to, as exhibited in my own personal sleep metrics. The b tracks how many hours you’ve slept, how deep it was, how often you were moving around, your sleeping heart rate. You still have to remember to stop the sleep tracking in the morning, though I’ve forgotten so many times it’s still managed to figure out when I’m up about not actually asleep.
You don’t have to charge it all that often
Under Armour HTC have promised five days of battery life with the UA B’s 112 mAh battery. The b isn’t using a ton of resources when it’s simply resting on your wrist, it turns off Bluetooth when you’re asleep, so it’s no surprise that I managed a little more than six days without charging it.
The only annoyance is the B’s magnetic charger. You have to stick it on a certain way wait for the green light to indicate that it’s charging. The magnets aren’t very strong, though, you can easily knock the B away. There were a few times I thought it was charging it, but it wasn’t.
The app is what makes the B
The UA Record app has existed for some time, but Under Armour recently overhauled it so that it integrates with its new suite of new connected products. The UA B would hardly st out from the competition without the aid of its software.
UA Record acts as a hub for your active life. The main interface utilizes a circle motif where a quarter of each bit of the “life pie” is devoted to a particular facet, including sleep, fitness, activity, nutrition. In the middle is a button you press to reveal your current weight, though it remains hidden so that it’s not constantly in your face. At the bottom, you can rate how you’re feeling overall then add any notes about your health for that day.
The UA Record app is one of the most concise informative fitness applications I’ve ever used. It offers charts to help you see your progress in a simplified manner, everything is organized so that you know where you are in the interface what exactly it is you’re looking at. There’s also a social element to the app that encourages you to participate in challenges, but it’s hidden away in the hamburger menu as if to suggest that it’s not a primary function of the app. I like that it’s unassuming, that the app leaves it up to you whether or not you want to bother with bringing others on your fitness journey.
ere UA Record really excels is with its integration of third-party connected products applications. You can link up gadgets from the likes of Garmin, FitBit, wbone, or hook in apps like MyFitnessl to help you track your meals, most of that information will sync up with your daily summaries.
A worthy first try at a fitness wearable
It’s been interesting watching the development of this product from the sidelines. I wasn’t too convinced at first that HTC could successfully build a fitness tracking device—not after the atrocity of the Grip—but this second time around has made me a believer. It’s unfortunate the company didn’t choose to hit the ground running with an Android ar product, but perhaps this was a smarter business move on HTC’s part. Rather than venture out into a forest full of wolves, the company opted to partner up with a br that’s already well-established in the fitness world, which will make its entry into the fitness market a little easier.
at Under Armour HTC are offering with the UA B is a pretty solid deal for $180. Its only major setback is that it’s not the most inspired-looking fitness wearable. But, if your goal is to accumulate all the data you can to help you achieve your personal fitness goals, there’s no harm in considering the UA B.