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Basis Peak review: This is the band to buy if you obsess over heart-rate and sleep tracking

Jon Phillips | Nov. 6, 2014
The real-time heart-rate tracking isn't perfect, but it comes close. And with automatic sleep and exercise tracking, and an improved industrial design, the Basis Peak is much better than its predecessor.

You can't view sleep data on the hardware, but the Basis mobile app reveals an industry-leading amount of information, including not just light sleep, deep sleep, and interruptions (you know, the standards), but also "toss and turns" and periods of REM sleep, the sleep cycle associated with dreaming and improved mental health. If you're more interested in what's happening to your body when you're not active, the Basis Peak delivers the best wristband experience available.

The mobile app also reveals a scads of data on daytime activity--certainly more than I need, as I'm interested in general fitness, not serious athletic training. But I do have a quibble with the way exercise events are logged. Remember those two hikes up Mount Davidson? The Basis app broke each hike into two separate exercise events because I briefly stopped to enjoy the view at the summit. Body IQ sensed my "workout" was over, and started a new session once I headed back down the hill. It's an annoying quirk, and there's no way to splice two related events together.

Better display, better design
All of Basis' quantified-selfie schtick would be undercut if the company's hardware didn't evolve as well. Well, finally, we have a Basis band that doesn't look something halfway between an engineering sample and a medical device. Relative to the original Basis B1 and Basis Steel update, the Peak is a much more stylish accoutrement.

The Peak also offers up to four days of battery life, which is less than what you'll get from a pure activity tracker (Jawbone delivers a luxurious 14 days), but vastly better than today's smartwatches. Kudos to Basis for being sensible and sticking with a power-efficient black-and-white display

Instead of plastic, the new case is made of forged aluminum. The horribly dim screen and backlight of earlier models has been replaced with a high-contrast Gorilla Glass 3 display. It's easier to read all around, and instead of navigating menus with a clunky side button, the new display is a touchscreen--and perfectly responsive at that. There are two color schemes, light and dark. My review unit was the Matte Black model that comes with a black strap with red accents.

There's only one watchface available (a rather meh digital readout), and this device will never take the place of a stylish watch, either luxury or mainstream. But you know what? I sort of like the design. If you fancy yourself the sporty type, this wearable will help you look the part. The texturing on the silicone strap looks cool. Ditto the red accents. And if you don't like strap, you can replace it for any other 23mm aftermarket option.


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