Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Huawei TalkBand B3 (active) review

Despite the fact that no manufacturer ever sent me any free gadget for review, I'm continuing doing it. Maybe I'll become a popular reviewer and they will change their mind. This post will be the first in this year's wearable gadget reviews.

To put it into perspective for those who don't know me, I'm not a fitness person, like at all. I eat healthy, I walk kinda a lot, I do some aerobics and occasional cardio but that's it. I'm too lazy even for jogging. But, for some reason, I currently have not one, not too, but three fitness trackers on my wrists. Yeah, crazy, I know, but that was the only way to compare them properly. By the way, wearing TalkBand on the same wrist with anything else is super inconvenient, you can hardly take it out for calls. But more on that later. Why do I need any fitness tracker? Apart from knowing time, I like to know how active I'm during the day, and, more importantly, track my sleep. I have some issues in that department so it's kinda important.

Also I don't like "classic" smart watches. I never wore normal watches, I don't wear suits, so smart ones are just too clumsy for me. Fitness trackers, on the other hand, are a good way to know time without having to take your phone out of pocket, in addition to fitness features. Notifications are kinda useful but I could leave without them. Apps and advanced stuff right on the watch are, in my opinion, waste of resources (gps is not, though, it helps tracking steps). I don't, for example, run with only tracker and headphones to make use of music player app. (If I workout, I usually have my phone with Spotify nearby which is easier than copying music files back and forth.)

Why TalkBand? For someone like me, a person who don't need very advanced fitness features and don't call a lot, it's a combination of passable tracker and good enough headset that is just right. It costs way more than a cheap headset but you can easily wear it on you wrist and take out for an occasional call. Most of normal headset are good only if you want to wear them in your ear all the time (otherwise you have to not forget to switch it off and on and might have issues when you forget that).

My general impression is that it feels somewhat cheaper than B2. Plastic is more squeaky, box is not quite as unnecessarily impressive (I'd be ok with cardboard if it saved me a couple bucks, really, it's not like I have any use for those boxes).

Someone might remember that I used to have a TalkBand B2 and liked. It had a problem with ear tip (that got flattened down to being unusable) but otherwise I'd still use it if I still had it. Unfortunately, the second serious problem it had (unreliable wrist band) proved fatal for mine. If you travel a lot with a backpack, it often can undo itself when you put backpack on or take it off and be lost. It was the second TalkBand in my household lost in an airport (whoever found it near security checkpoint in Don Mueang, you are welcome, mai pen rai krap).

Was anything done to fix that issue in B3? Well, the band has longer metal pin that prevents it from being completely unstrapped and unclicking requires more effort but I still recommend to replace the band with something with normal buckle. If you manage to find something comfortable enough, kindly let me know where to get it. Flattening ear tip? Well, it needed more than a couple months on continuous wearing to get there (I'll update if anything happens) but tip is different from B2's so that might help. Yes, it means it's incompatible with those spare tips I have lying around.

Main non-fitness-related change is that now you can initiate calls with it. You can add select contacts from the and call them, or call last-used number, not only accept calls and return missed ones. There are a few other small-time changes here and there but overall it seem to be about as good for everything as TalkBand B2 was. Some fitness tracking, occasional call, knowing time and date. Probably not worth upgrading but if you need one, better get the new one.

Short summary for those who didn't read TalkBand B2 reviews or haven't used any Huawei wearables before. Fitness features that work are steps counter and sleep tracking. You can manually track stuff like running or cycling, and it has some pretty useless calorie calculator. You can use it as a normal bluetooth headset (and it accepts calls and switches sound to itself when you take it out). Huawei Wear app is required for everything, flagship Huawei phones also have some additional integration (like showing TalkBand's battery level in status bar, not unlike what Samsung offers with its flagships and wearables). IP57 protection (do not swim in it but occasional splash or sweat is ok). That's pretty much it, nothing special, but a very good device in its niche.

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