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Is Basis Peak a better fitness tracker than Fitbit Surge?

James A. Martin | May 4, 2015
If you still haven't bought into the whole wearable-health thing yet, and you don't have your sites set on an Apple Watch, consider giving Basis Peak ($199) a look. After a few weeks of use, I found a lot to like about the wrist-worn activity and sleep tracker -- which also has some smartwatch features -- as well as a few things that could use improvement.

If you still haven't bought into the whole wearable-health thing yet, and you don't have your sites set on an Apple Watch, consider giving Basis Peak ($199) a look. After a few weeks of use, I found a lot to like about the wrist-worn activity and sleep tracker — which also has some smartwatch features — as well as a few things that could use improvement.

Basis Peak love: Body iQ. Peak's Body iQ feature automatically detects when you go for a walk, run or bike ride, and when you fall asleep. This is an awesome differentiator for Peak. For example, Fitbit Surge ($250), perhaps its closest competitor, automatically detects sleep, too, but it doesn't automatically sense when you start exercising, aside from counting your steps, which it always does. (Turning on exercise tracking on Surge isn't exactly difficult, but I love the convenience of Peak.)

In my tests, Peak started to display my activity stats after about five minutes of exercise. The device recorded my steps all along; it just took a few minutes for it to officially kick into exercise mode.

Basis Peak love: Sleep data. Speaking of sleep, Peak provides more detailed snooze stats than Fitbit devices, and you can check them out in its Android and iOS apps, and on its website.

Peak differentiates between REM, light and deep sleep, and displays the percentage of time spent in each phase. When you tap to select one of the phases, the app provides context.

For example, on a recent night in which I slept eight hours and 16 minutes, 29 percent of that time was REM sleep, according to Peak. The app told me I spent a total of two hours and 24 minutes in REM sleep. And according to the app, 20 to 30 percent is an average amount of REM sleep, which is good to know. You also receive a sleep score — on that night my score was 98 percent — along with other related data.

When I asked Fitbit about its sleep monitoring features compared to Peak, a Fitbit spokesperson responded: "REM sleep tracking with only a motion sensor remains controversial. Fitbit, instead, monitors restlessness and the amount of time people are awake during a sleep period." (For more details, check out Fitbit's sleep tracking FAQs page.)

Basis Peak love: The display. Peak's high-contrast touch screen, which the company says is made of Gorilla Glass 3, is extremely easy to read in bright sunlight. When you exercise, you can flick through data, including current heart rate and steps. The same is true of Surge, however; both screens are ideal for reading in bright daylight.

 

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