Reviewed: Basis Science B1 activity monitor Nov 5 2013

Pros:

  • The B1 is the first consumer product to track skin temperature, perspiration and heart rate all in one wrist-wearable device. That’s big.
  • The Basis Science Web site presents an intriguing view of your data – thoughtful people are bound to learn something here.
  • It’s a watch with a time & date function.

Cons:

  • The Misfit Shine takes one approach to styling, the B1 takes a different approach. Ironically, the same is true for their functions. The B1 is probably oriented toward less fashion- and more function-conscious customers.
  • The proprietary charger is a little clunky, but the cable makes it big & long enough so you probably won’t lose it.
  • Customer support – Basis’s poor performance is symptomatic of the industry at large, but that’s no excuse for failing to get any points at all.

The Basis B1 offers some unique and very interesting features among the activity monitors today – not only does it perform the basic functions of capturing steps, calculating calories, etc., it also monitors your skin temperature, perspiration, and throughout the day it periodically samples your heart rate without any prompting or intervention.

Not only is this product intriguing, I found myself absorbed by the additional information, wondering what I was doing when my sweat spiked, or when my skin temperature dropped. I also quickly realized that the B1’s HRM (Heart Rate Monitor) is not a continuous, real-time feed – if that’s what you’re looking for you’ll need a more dedicated device that relies on a chest strap. Regardless, having an “autonomous” HRM on your wrist 24/7 delivers a stream of information that will be quite new to most consumers.

You’d think that with these revolutionary features the B1 would do well – let’s take a look how it compares against the Withings Pulse and the Nike+ FuelBand:

 Basis B1Withings PulseNike+ FuelBand
Data & Connectivity4.58.44.5
Functions884
Personalization9129
Support169
TOTAL SCORE22.534.426.5

Instead of excelling, the B1 seems to have fallen short. Its scores in the Functions category are understandably strong, it makes a fair showing in Personalization, and it doesn’t lose too much ground in Data & Connectivity. Unfortunately, Basis Science lets itself down with a very poor showing in Customer Support – but we’ll get to that later.

In the meantime, here’s an overview of the B1 and how it compares:

CriteriaBasis B1Withings PulseNike+ FuelBand
Review DateNov 6 2013Oct 3 2013Aug 15 2013
Product CategoryActivity MonitorActivity MonitorActivity Monitor
Form FactorWrist BandFobWrist Band
SensorsMotion, Sweat, HR, Skin TempMotion, Elevation, HRMotion
On-Body/Body LocationWrist onlyWrist, Clip On, PocketWrist only
Algorithms by ????
MSRP$199.00$99.95$149.00

The B1 takes the form of a wristwatch (imagine the size & shape of early digital watches) with an LCD display, control buttons mounted on the face of the device, and on the back are LED sensors for the HRM as well as several metallic contacts for measuring perspiration and skin temperature.

Let’s dig in to the B1’s performance in Data & Connectivity.