Internet of Things start-up Smartron has priced the t.band at Rs 4,999 in the market.
The t.band takes on the likes of Xiaomi Mi Band 2, and GoQii Fitness band.
It comes with Electrocardiography (ECG) and blood pressure (BP) detection.
In May 2018, Internet of Things (IoT) solutions startup Smartron announced its entry into the fitness-focused wearable market with the Smartron t.band. A market that is already ruled either by the premium Apple Watch or the budget offering by Xiaomi with its Xiaomi Mi Band 2 and Band 2 HRX Edition in India. I spent around a month using the t.band to test what it had to offer. Here is my review.
The company has added a 0.96-inch PM-OLED screen on the band with a resolution of 128 x 64 pixels. The t.band has a 3-axis accelerometer, ECG monitor, and an optical heart rate monitor. It’s powered by a 100mAh battery. Similar to other fitness bands in the market, the t.band also features water and dust resistance with an IP67 rating.
It uses Bluetooth to connect to the ‘t.health’ App that supports devices that run on Android Lollipop 5.0 or later or iOS 8.3-powered iOS devices. After reading all the factors, the band also gives an overall health index score to the sure. It is likely that this score is present to inform the user if they are making any progress or if they need to improve any aspect of their daily routine.
The band tracks daily activity of the user including the number of calories burnt, number of steps taken, total distance covered and sleep patterns. In addition, it notifies you about any calls and SMS on your smartphone. The company has also given the option to set ten customized notifications including, weather, app alerts, medicine reminders, do not disturb option, inactivity and SOS alerts.
If you’re someone who tends to miss out on synching your fitness band, then the t.band can thankfully store up to 14 days of detailed motion data along with 10ECG, and BP records, up to 1200 minutes of heart rate data, and pace data with 3-second intervals during exercise tracking at any given time.
Unlike most fitness bands in the market that go for a seamless ‘single body’ design, the t.band ditches the concept of the single body concept where the main fitness module is stored, to opt for a design that is reminiscent to a classic watch. A regular watch with straps and something where we can see the module separately from the strap. This gives the t.band a vastly different look that stands out from the rest of the wearable club making the cut to even be part of a formal attire.
Smartron has also added a leather strap in addition to the default black strap that is made out of silicon. The company also sells other replacement straps in a different type of materials and textures to ensure that the owner can buy a couple of them and swap them out at will. The default silicon strap with texture gets dirty quite easily and it is difficult to get it cleaned up quickly. Moving to the actual module of the t.band, the display 0.96-inch PM-OLED screen is nothing special and the metal button acts as a huge bottom bezel to the device makes things less interesting.
I was hoping a better and rather improved display for a wearable that costs Rs 4,999. I hope that Smartron improves on this to bring the main module on par with its classy housing. Talking about the button, I believe that it could have been better as compared to other fitness bands in the market.
The back of the main module houses the sensors used to measure ECG and BP. The green LEDs on the module illuminate the skin, and measure heart pressure by detecting the change in blood flow. This technique is called PWTT (pulse wave transit time) and detects a sudden change in blood pressure. The band uses an ECG electrode for measurement.
The measurement process could be vastly improved. With the way things are currently, I had to wait for 30 seconds to record a measurement. In certain instances, I failed to get a reading despite following instructions. Connectivity glitches between the t.band and the t.health app hampered the experience. Although that’s expected to be fixed with a software update in the future.
The company uses its dedicated t.health app to intake all the data and feed it to the cloud. The app is much better than the likes of Intex, but it still falls short of the polished feel that Xiaomi Mi Fit app gives. But, given the amount of data that the app displays at any given time, I am impressed with how the software does not feel confusing. The tabular format of ‘Home’, ‘Trends’, ‘Bio’, ‘Exercise’, and ‘Settings’ does a good job in segregating the information and making it very easy to check.
The Home tab does a good job at informing you about all the current essentials that one would need to know while the Trends tab gives a good history of the recent past with the help of bars with subsections of ‘Day’, all the way to a ‘Year’ at a time. One can check the activity, sleep, and heart rate sensor readings on this tab. Bio has to do with HRV (ECG) and BP. Moving to the Exercise section, one can check all the exercise routines that they have done while wearing the band.
‘Settings’ give the user the usual options to make tweaks to their t.band and the app to improve usability. It also gives users the option to sync all this data to Google Fit app as well.
The performance of the t.band depends on two primary aspects, the battery backup provided by the band and the readings that it provides. The company claims that the band can last up to 2-3 days on regular usage but I realized that it can to up to 4-4.5 days on decent usage which is a plus. However, if compared to its major competitors such as the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 or even the latest Mi Band 3, there is no comparison to be done frankly between the two when it comes to battery backup.
Moving to the readings of the functions that it claims to measure, I would say that they are a bit and a miss in some aspects. The device is spot on when it comes to tracking sleep, heart rate and to a large extent the number of steps taken and the expected BP.
The step counter is still iffy in its behavior as it does not give consistently good measurements and measuring it with competitor fitness bands and the pedometer in the smartphone exclusivity for walking, we saw some inaccuracies in the results. During the inconsistent results, we observed that the t.band was off by a significant margin when compared to other bands and smartphones.
We are not sure about how accurate the calories and the distance covered is because it is likely that it depends on the number of steps taken to extrapolate the date. Similar is the case with ECG as we could not measure the results with a dedicated ECG machine. It is likely that the device is using all these readings to make a health index in addition to stress and fatigue so any inaccuracies in the base readings are bound to affect these derived results.
Considering that ECG and BP are two stand-out features for the fitness device, the way both are traditionally measured invalidates their presence here. Doctors measure both these parameters with the help of a dedicated ECG machine and an arm strap that contracts and relaxes in case of blood pressure and a Rs 5,000 band claiming to do the same is surprising.
But consider this, the complexity in the way ECG and BP are measured is the reason where companies such as Apple have not added these functions in their premium Apple Watch. So in that situation, believing a fitness band with no way to cross check unless you have access to an ECG and a BP-measuring machine is tricky when it comes to health. The company should have scrapped the feature and pushed the price further down if it wants to compete against other offerings from its competition.
The Smartron t.band manages to do a lot of good with its first wearable product, while managing to bring new elements to the table. The company has definitely made a mark when it comes to its first product in the wearable market while managing to stand tall compared to its peers.
However, inaccuracies in some reading parameters, the stiff pricing, and occasional connectivity issues hold it from being the ideal wearable. Its core features such as BP and ECG measurement need to be refined, and other issues need to be fixed before I can recommend this to anyone. The sheer inaccuracies in how the band measures critical health parameters with reference to conventional methods render it unsuitable.
BGR India would emphasize that if you’re someone with a medical condition that requires you to measure your BP and ECG, then you must consult a qualified medical professional, instead of relying on fitness bands. If you’re still interested and already have looked at the competition then you can go for it. Although I would still consider Xiaomi‘s Mi Band 2 and the recently announced AmazFit Bip to be better options keeping function, accuracy, and cost as the key points.