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The Basis Peak wants to be the first heart-rate monitoring wristband that isn't a joke

Jon Phillips | Oct. 1, 2014
With a more elegant design, brighter display, and improved heart-rate sensor, the Basis Peak fitness and sleep tracker improves on the Basis B1 Band in pretty much every way.

basis peak on wrist
JON PHILLIPS/Compared to earlier Basis models, the Peak has a lower-profile design, and is made of forged aluminum instead of plastic. The new display is also brighter and higher contrast.

It's finally arrived: an activity-tracking wristband that promises accurate, real-time heart rate monitoring during the heat of exercise. The Basis Peak is lighter, slimmer, brighter and more elegant than the Basis wearable it replaces, and when it goes on sale in early November for $200, it stands a good chance of restoring dignity to the heart-rate monitoring space. 

Make no mistake, most wrist-worn wearables have laughable heart-rate tracking features. They can only do heart rate "spot checks" that report how fast your ticker is ticking when you stop whatever you're doing, and keep your body perfectly still like a terrified squirrel. It's a quaint feature at best--when the devices work. Their performance is usually inconsistent, but of course you already know this if you own one of Samsung's many wearables, including the Gear Fit.

The Basis Peak, announced Tuesday, aims to deliver a heart-rate monitoring experience that rivals what we currently only get from chest-strap monitors and earbud systems like LG's Heart Rate Earphones. Basis, which was acquired by Intel in March, says the Peak has a completely revamped heart-rate sensor that serves a reliable, continuous data stream regardless of how hard you're pushing your body.

It's exactly what you need for zone-based cardio training, and improves upon the previous Basis heart-rate sensor, which was mostly enlisted to calculate general calorie-burn numbers and sleep quality in the B1 Band and Carbon Steel Edition.

The forward march of sensor tech

So what's changed? For starters, the company's new spectroscopic sensor has a brighter LED. This makes it "less susceptible to channel interference; interfering light has a harder time disrupting the signal," says Ethan Fassett, Basis VP of Product. Second, the sensor has an improved photo receptor. This is the element that absorbs the LED light, providing a footprint of the blood flow beneath the surface of your skin.

Third, the Peak is lighter than Basis products it replaces. The reduced mass translates into less dramatic "inertial movements" that might cause the Peak to break contact with your skin. Fourth, the sensor housing now has a raised berm that forms a stronger connection point to your skin--almost like a sealed gasket. And, finally, Basis' new straps are stretchy, flexible silicone. You can pull them tighter without giving up comfort, and the snug fit ensures more reliable data collection.

basis peak charger
JON PHILLIPS. Battery life remains rated for a generous four days, and the new charging puck is must less clunky than earlier Basis iterations.


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