Huawei Talk­Band B2

Tech Advisor - - REVIEWS - Ash­leigh All­sopp

Huawei has un­veiled a new ver­sion of its Talk­Band, the B2, a wrist-worn fit­ness tracker that also dou­bles as a Blue­tooth head­set.

The first thing you’ll no­tice is that the de­sign has been sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved since the B1, both in terms of looks and prac­ti­cal­ity. The orig­i­nal Talk­Band was pla­s­ticky and cheap-look­ing, whereas this ver­sion looks much more stylish and so­phis­ti­cated, from the strap and the de­vice it­self, through to its pack­ag­ing.

There are three de­signs to choose from: black and white of­fer­ings with plas­tic straps, and a gold op­tion with a leather strap.

The tech is housed within the re­mov­able por­tion of the de­vice. This pops out eas­ily when you squeeze the two but­tons on the strap, and is sim­ple to pop back into place. We’re happy to see that Huawei has im­proved the de­sign to make it eas­ier to re­move and re­place the ear­piece, some­thing we found frus­trat­ing with the B1.

We also like the fact that the screen be­comes in­vis­i­ble when not in use, mak­ing the Talk­Band B2 look more like a bracelet-type ac­ces­sory than a piece of tech. Twist­ing or rais­ing your wrist will cause the screen to il­lu­mi­nate.

It’s been slimmed down, too – mea­sur­ing 11.8mm com­pared to the B1’s 15mm – though we still found it a lit­tle chunky for our lik­ing. Most smart­watches are a lit­tle on the thick side com­pared with regular watches, but the Talk­Band looks sig­nif­i­cantly thicker, which many will find off-putting.

In terms of fit­ness track­ing, the B2 has ev­ery­thing you’d ex­pect from a smart­band. It tracks your steps and dis­tance, and es­ti­mates the amount of calo­ries burned us­ing the built-in 6-axis sen­sor. This de­tects the type of ex­er­cise you’re do­ing, such as walk­ing, run­ning and cy­cling, and can also be used to mon­i­tor your sleep. All of this in­for­ma­tion can be ac­cessed via the 0.73in touch­screen, which is clear and re­spon­sive.

The ac­cu­racy of the B2 seems to be on par with the likes of other fit­ness track­ers we’ve tried, and mea­sures how many calo­ries you’ve burned. You can also set your­self a goal, and once this is reached, the Talk­Band buzzes, dis­plays a fire­works an­i­ma­tion and awards you a tro­phy.

You can take a look back at your past ac­tiv­ity by open­ing the ded­i­cated iOS or An­droid app. This of­fers day- and month views. .

The B2 can also mea­sure your sleep pat­terns, let­ting you know how long you slept, and whether that was deep- or light sleep. Un­for­tu­nately, we found that the Talk­Band was too un­com­fort­able to wear in bed, and so took it off.

Ear­piece

The Talk­Band’s Blue­tooth ear­piece for hands-free call­ing has di­vided opin­ion here in the of­fice. It ac­tu­ally makes a lot of sense – cer­tainly more so than talk­ing to your wrist.

But us­ing a Blue­tooth head­set feels as though you’re step­ping back in time, es­pe­cially since you can get head­phones with a built-in mi­cro­phone. Huawei is aware of this and has an­nounced that it is to launch the Talk­Band N1 – in-ear head­phones that of­fer pretty much the same func­tion­al­ity as the B2 aside from the touch­screen.

The first time some­one called while we were testing the B2, we were no­ti­fied by the de­vice’s vi­bra­tion alert. We found it a lit­tle fid­dly to get it to sit in our ear to begin with, but soon got the hang of it. The qual­ity of calls is great, and those con­tact­ing us said they hadn’t no­ticed a dif­fer­ence in sound qual­ity from our end. Once the call was over, we didn’t have any prob­lems pop­ping the ear­piece back into the wrist­band.

You can turn on no­ti­fi­ca­tions for mes­sages, but this didn’t seem to work for us and the man­ual didn’t of­fer any help. A quick check on­line of­fered no an­swers ei­ther – Huawei’s sup­port doc­u­ments are lack­ing (in fact, they’re nonex­is­tent). Any­thing else, such as Face­book no­ti­fi­ca­tions or emails, won’t show up at all – you’ll have to check your phone for.

You can, how­ever, set an alarm on the Talk­Band to wake you up in the morn­ing, and use the de­vice to help find your phone if it’s fallen be­neath the sofa.

The B2 is also wa­ter- and dust re­sis­tant, so you don’t have to worry about it while you’re wash­ing your hands. We wouldn’t rec­om­mend wear­ing it in the shower, though, par­tic­u­larly if you’ve got the leather strap.

To charge the de­vice, you’ll need to use the pro­vided Mi­croUSB ca­ble. This plugs into the port on the back of the re­mov­able por­tion of the de­vice, so it’s al­ways hid­den while you’re wear­ing it. The Talk­Band takes around an hour-anda-half to charge, and this should last for four- to five days.

Ver­dict

The Talk­Band B2 is an enor­mous im­prove­ment over the B1 in terms of de­sign and prac­ti­cal­ity, but we’re still not sure we’d buy one. It’s an opin­ion divider, but we think for a (prob­a­bly small) num­ber of peo­ple, this de­vice is go­ing to be re­ally ex­cit­ing, and ex­actly what they’ve been look­ing for. You’ll know if you’re con­fi­dent enough to wear and use the Blue­tooth head­set in public, and if you are, this smart­band could be an ex­cel­lent in­vest­ment as it does its job bril­liantly and looks good while do­ing so.

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