Living with Mi Band

How cheapest wearable devices changed my life and why you might want it too.

Fancy notification devices. A fitness tracking sensors that can be built-in right into phone itself. Just a few words to describe my initial reaction over wearable devices, especially smartwatch. As much as i like Moto 360’s circular design, i don’t think i am willing to spend my money on wearable devices, at least not for the moment.

Fortunately, that hold-out comes to an end when i get a chance to sit down and play with Apple Watch. I took my time carefully this time and try to see it differently. I was blown away by how useful to have all these informations right at my wrist even on such a small screen. When Taptic Engine gently tapping my wrist to let me know there is a text message, i knew this is the start of something new and my initial reactions were immature.

Since i’m using Android and still hesitate to invest a considerably big amount just for an experimental try-out, i decided to settle with Xiaomi Mi Band, the cheapest wearable device that i bought for RM70.

In theory, for such tiny investment means either you end up with crappy product that you can’t complain, or you complain why you bought such a crappy product instead of Starbucks’ latte. But this is Xiaomi, and they’re well known for making crazy damn good products and sell it at crazy low price. See the specs for yourself :

+ Bluetooth 4.0 chip by Dialog that connects to your smartphone.
+ Military-grade 3-axis accelerometer by ADI that does the tracking magic.
+ LED light and vibration for notification and alarm.
+ Fueled by 45mAh battery that could last a month.

I like how Xiaomi packages their products, it fits across their product line pretty well. You’ll get every necessary items to get started - a black strap, quickguide which is unfortunately in Chinese, and a charging cable. Since its made by Xiaomi, the companion Mi Fit app takes all the design cue from MIUI, which is neat and clean that can be easily understand by user. This is something in my opinion that even Google can’t get properly with their Fit app just yet.

Setting up was easy - just download Mi Fit app from Google Play Store or Apple App Store, sign in with your Mi’s account (or create during setup process) and you’re good to go. Pairing with your phone couldn’t get any easier using Mi Fit app - just a simple tap on Mi Band itself to complete the pairing process.

Aside from tracking your daily activity like walking and sleeping pattern, you can use it for notification. Official Mi Fit only allow you to select up to three apps for notification, but you can resort to third-party solution if you need to be notified over more than three apps.

Approval-pending geeks fashion concept. I am basically douche of the day for wearing it together with my watch.

After about a month with Mi Band, three firmware updates, 1 rafting trip and 4 flights - i can sum up that it holds up pretty well. When i started to wear it on its own without my watch, i’d always thought i was wearing my watch and constantly looking at my wrist to check for time. As soon as i learn to adapt that this is not a smartwatch but rather a tracking device, wearing it on daily basis including sleeping is normal.

I didn’t sleep well that day because of my work. But i reclaim it tomorrow after its done, like a boss.

So my morning routine went from checking out what’s new on Twitter or Newsstand to checking how well i slept last night. And i don’t have to constantly reach my phone unless there is a vibration on my wrist. Notification can be identified easily if its coming from an app or phone calls by looking at the LED blinking pattern and vibration intensity, so i can choose to easily to pick it up or continue with my work. I found this helps me a lot when driving, as there is no more false alarm thinking my phone is vibrating when its not. And my sleep cycle has been improved as well now since i’m much aware with my daily routine and try to balance it.

I’m not sure if i want to recommend everyone to get up and wear this thing, but for me the experience has been a real enjoyment, and its all for RM70. I know its not everyone cup of tea to wear it pretty much all the time, and since wearable devices only useful if you decided, well, to really wear it perhaps that is the idea most people found unpleasant, at least for the time being.

Again, for what its worth, i think this is amazing feats of modern engineering - both from technology standpoint and value.

Posted November 27, 2015