Today fitness has become synonymous with wearables which do not require you to consult a doctor for everyday monitoring. In the wearables category, you get smartwatches, smart activity bands, and dedicated trackers such as the Lenovo HW02 Plus heart rate tracking band.
With wearable technology comes the convenience of comfort, discreet monitoring, and easy access to data should there be an intervention by a human health professional. However, what is critical to these health trackers is their accuracy. Without accuracy, the wearables are as good and dumb as any piece of fashion accessory. I have reviewed the Lenovo HW02 Plus and here are my observations about the Rs 2,299 priced heart rate monitor and fitness tracker.
Unlike smartwatches which require bigger displays to support additional features, activity trackers have the advantage of easily blending with your other accessories. The Lenovo HW02 Plus heart rate monitor comes in dual color theme making it subtle in terms of design.
It sports a miniscule 0.42-inch OLED touch panel which is so discreet that it is invisible in bright outdoors. The dual-color scheme blends well with the overall aesthetics, however, not many will be comfortable wearing a plastic band for longer. The band is not detachable so customizing the tracker is not possible. Additionally, this model does not come with metal buckles, requiring you to be doubly-sure of having secured the ends properly.
At the bottom of the display rest all the sensors which monitor your steps, sleep, calories burnt, PAI score and heart rate. If you happen to take off the band without turning it off, a sharp green light continues to emit from the heart-rate sensor until you wear it again or switch off it manually.
Setting up and usage
You need to install the companion Lenovo Heathy app for the band. Once you bind the device over Bluetooth, you need to simply wear it and forget about it. You will get at least for three-four days of use without having to charge it. Although it is claimed to last between 5-10 days, it survived three and a half days for me when I kept it on pretty much 24×7. You can fearlessly go about doing your daily activities, without having to worry about sweat or water damaging the device, thanks to the IP67 rating.
Right over the display is a small gesture touch point. You tap on it once, it will show you the time and date, tap again, it will show you the calories burnt, successive taps will show footsteps taken, heart rate, and battery level. The band supports rise to wake, so a simple flick of the wrist will show you the time and date on the band. You can also use the band to find your iPhone/ Android phone. You need to simply use the touch point to initiate a call through the lens icon.
While the PAI score, steps, calories, and heart rate is accessible right from the band, you need to use the companion app if you need to check your sleep status. The app shows you the current status on various parameters along with showing you a graph of your health status over a period of time. Now, this comes handy if you also have an erratic sleep-and-wake pattern like I do as I was able to find out exactly how many hours I slept on a weekend and how much of the total sleep hours were in deep sleep or light sleep. The band also calculates the time taken by you to actually leave the bed.
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This takes us to a very interesting feature of the band. The band comes with support for an alarm clock as well. You can use the companion app to set the alarm time and day of the week. By adjusting the vibration intensity of the band, you can actually use it as a very subtle wake up method instead of the cacophonic everyday smartphone alarm. Also, given that it is always advisable to keep your phones away while sleeping, the little buzz on the wrist serves as just the right way of waking up on a given day, neither too strong, nor too mild to miss.
When it comes to alerts, you can further choose from the companion app exactly which apps you want to send notifications on the band as well. You can choose to get notifications from WhatsApp, calls, text, Facebook, and Instagram. Only when you receive a call, is when the display shows you the name of the caller. For rest of the apps, only the icons are shown with a mild buzz to alert you.
PAI score or Personal Activity Intelligence is a system that translates your body activity measurements into a single number to give direction to your workout or physical activities. It takes into account your sleeping hours, steps taken, calories burnt, and heart rate to tell you a daily score.
According to researchers behind the PAI system, maintaining a score of 100 is synonymous with a healthy lifestyle and balanced exercise. My PAI scores have been embarrassingly low with the highest score of 50 achieved on a Saturday I slept the most in the given week for 8 hours and 16 minutes.
The band alerts you with the mild buzz and trophy icon notification when you reach the fitness goal and achieve a high PAI score.
The companion app delivers an in-depth analysis of your daily PAI score.
The app interface is simple and by swiping up, you can see more details related to each health parameter.
The Lenovo Healthy companion app also shows your complete progress through graphs. You can choose to share the data over social media, if you have friends with whom you have collective health goals, or over email for easy reference for a heath professional.
As I mentioned earlier, the good thing about wearables is that they don’t require professional knowledge to understand the working, because at the end, they are assigned with monitoring some of the basic daily activities. If you are taking 20 steps, you can measure that manually, without the need of a doctor to measure it. However, for other complex calculations such as the heart rate and calories burnt, you rely on the sensors in the wearable.
The Lenovo HW02 Plus heart rate monitor fails miserably at its prime role – tracking the heart rate, accurately. After climbing up six floors, the tracker showed a rate of 83, which is what it shows on most days when I have minimal to zero physical activity.
In another instance, while undergoing an actual medical checkup, the tracker happened to record an accurate heart rate. In yet another instance of speed walking, the tracker appeared to show an increased heart rate, which again fell in the bracket of accurate. However, the erratic readings indicate that the device is buggy when it comes to heart rate monitoring. The same inaccuracies are also seen at times in steps counting as well.
The Lenovo HW02 Plus heart rate monitor is an affordable fitness wearable which can help you easily track sleep, steps, and calories burnt. However, its inaccuracy in its primary role of heart tracking is disappointing. From features perspective, what I would have preferred is an option on the band to monitor sleep. This would have reduced the dependency on the companion app.
On the whole, the Lenovo HW02 Plus heart rate monitor is minimal in its design and is affordable for those starting early in digital health tracking. Its battery life and durability is also one of the reasons why I would recommend it to others. However, the inaccuracies and inconsistencies are hard to ignore, especially when the product is claimed to focus on heart rate monitoring.