Basis B1 Fitness Tracking Wristband: Shelly’s Review

Posted by | February 01, 2014 | Blog | No Comments
Basis B1

After wearing the Basis B1 fitness-tracking wristband for a week, my first thought is that it is really uncomfortable. If I wear it tight enough so that it can track my average heart rate, it actually hurts. If I wear it loose enough to tolerate the steel case and sensors over my wrist, it can’t do the job for which it was designed. I’ve worn my Jawbone UP for 192 days without even knowing I was wearing it – the Basis B1 is something completely different. So what would possess me to ditch my Jawbone UP for a Basis B1?

What I Like About the Basis B1

There is a visceral pleasure in having a display available all of the time. When worn correctly (which you will have to figure out for yourself), the Basis B1 gives you instant access to data about the number of steps, estimated calories burned, time in motion, heart rate, time and date. The screen can be viewed easily in direct sunlight and also has a backlight. This, coupled with the extreme accuracy of the Basis B1, is a compelling reason to check it out.

Information is Not Knowledge

If you decide to use the smartphone app or sync the Basis B1 with your computer, you’ll get additional data about perspiration and skin temperature (which is information, not knowledge – so it will be noise for most people). The band can take a pretty good guess about whether you are walking, running or biking, so the website displays additional data about averages and total minutes you engage in those activities. This is additional non-actionable information, unless you are relying solely on the Basis B1 to track your runs or walks (a purpose for which its included software was not designed).

Basis B1: Activity Details

The Next Level

Notwithstanding any of the above, the Basis B1 represents the next level up from the Fitbit, Jawbone, Withings Pulse and Nike Fuel zone of fitness-tracking wristbands. If you like the steps and calorie counting tools offered by Jawbone or Fitbit-style trackers, you’ll love the accessibility of the data as presented by the Basis B1. By all measures, the Basis B1 is the most accurate of sub $200 fitness-tracking wristbands and, if you’re interested in more accurate data, the Basis B1 does not disappoint.

What Worked?

I used my Jawbone UP for the first 192 days (and 58+ lbs.) of my journey to a lose weight, feel great and stay fit forever. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was crafting the Smartphone Diet™. My formula for success was the well-documented, strongly debated equation: 3,500 calories = 1 pound. I used it as a baseline so that I could forecast my weight reduction. Every 3,500 calories I burned that I didn’t eat, I would lose a pound. Every 3,500 calories I ate that I didn’t burn, I would gain a pound. While this is not strictly true, it served as an excellent standard by which to measure calories in and calories out. And, assuming the facts in evidence – I’m over 58 lbs. lighter than I was 192 days ago – I’m happy with the formula.

How the Math Works

My goal was to consume approximately 1,500 calories each day and to burn approximately 2,500 calories each day. To do this, I used two apps plus the Jawbone UP fitness-tracking wristband. I log (present tense because I will never stop doing this) every morsel of food I put in my mouth using the MyFitnessPal app, and I try as best as I can to achieve my daily goal. I used (past tense because I am now using the Basis B1) the Jawbone UP and its associated app to monitor my steps and sleep, as well as to estimate the calories I burned. Over the first 192 days of my journey, I averaged about a 1,000 calories differential and I’ve lost approximately .30 lbs. per day… just over 58 lbs.

Why Would I Switch?

Although I’m not sure that I will be able to keep the Basis B1 on my wrist for much longer (it really is uncomfortable), I like the accuracy, the heart rate monitoring and the display.

At this point in my quantified journey, I don’t need the pretty pictures or the social network provided by Jawbone. In fact, the social media connections are astoundingly annoying. I have always been suspect of the accuracy of the sleep monitor provided by Jawbone and I’m completely sure that the step count/mileage (even after several calibrations) is less than ideal. The Jawbone and the Fitbit worked for me because they were consistently inaccurate – over time, my daily routine could be adjusted to compensate for the inaccuracy.

After just a few days wearing the Basis B1 and the Jawbone UP together, it became abundantly obvious that the Basis was giving me better numbers and (although it does not connect to MyFitnessPal in any way) it made my actual calorie in/out calculations more in line with my projections.


Basis B1: Sleep

At 252 lbs., I had a pretty significant case of sleep apnea and I was using a c-pap machine to control it. Now, sub-194, I don’t need the machine anymore and I no longer snore, but I do like to monitor my sleep. The Basis B1 does a pretty remarkable job of sleep monitoring without the need for me to press a button or remember to do anything. The Basis B1 just knows when I’m sleeping (or napping), and it displays the data in a comprehensive way.


Basis B1: Habits

Basis offers a set of tools it calls “Habits” to help you improve your health and fitness. They include things that seem arbitrary like “Afternoon Lap: Take a short trek from 12-5” or “Move It: Amp up your minutes of activity per day” or “Don’t Be A Sitter: Get up and move around regularly from 9 to 5” and my favorite, “Consistent Bedtime: Go to sleep the same time every night” which is awesome, if you’re 5 years old. I’m not sure what the nice folks at Basis are thinking, I’ve unlocked most of the “Habits,” and honestly, so far … they’re useless.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for the next step up in accuracy, you can wear this band all day and all night (I charge my wristbands while I’m in the shower each day). If you want real-time access to steps and heart rate and a very, very good estimate of how many calories you’ve burned, the Basis B1 is going to make you smile. The technology packed into the Basis B1 is best of breed and it will serve you well. I’ve switched (for now). Let’s see how long I can stand the pain. Basis people… Help! I’m generally happy, but my wrist hurts.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is Fox 5 New York's On-air Tech Expert (WNYW-TV) and the host of Fox Television's monthly show Shelly Palmer Digital Living. He also hosts United Stations Radio Network's, Shelly Palmer Digital Living Daily, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment. He is Managing Director of Advanced Media Ventures Group, LLC an industry-leading advisory and business development firm and a member of the Executive Committee of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (the organization that bestows the coveted Emmy® Awards).

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