My Case of the Fitness Tracker

Obligatory Background

Having an understanding of my health, ranging from activity during the day to how well I’m sleeping at night (or sometimes the reverse), is quite important to me. During the time I did not have a functioning fitness tracker, nor the ability see a glimpse of my health, I found myself disappointed by the lack of access to this sort of data on a daily basis. I had grown accustomed to being able to personally review how my actions affected my health, especially sleep.

Today I received my Xiaomi Mi Band to replace my broken Fitbit Charge. It was actually a bit of a long road to purchasing the device.

I had done some research, prior to the purchase of the Charge, to understand what aspects of a fitness tracker were most important to me. When my Charge started to fall apart (I get into it later) and eventually led me to cease using it, I re-assessed what I needed from a fitness tracker and that eventually lead me to the Mi Band.

Criteria of a Fitness Tracker to me

  1. Affordability. I couldn’t justify purchasing a fitness tracker around the same cost as a Charge and as much as I liked the display on the Charge, I determined it was really a nicety and chances are I’d be looking at the data on my phone or iPod Touch anyways.
  2. It needed to track sleep and it needed to do it well.
  3. It needed a silent alarm feature (basically, a vibration motor goes off during a designated time and can be used as a substitute or in conjunction with your normal alarm clock or mobile phone).
  4. It needed to be water resistant. Whether just from inclement weather, shower, etc.
  5. I’m the first to admit I’m not particularly an active individual but I do find distance/step tracking to be valuable. I noticed with my Charge I’d set high goals and the number staring into your soul until you get above it was a good enough motivator for me to be less of a lazy ass.

Mi Band

This brought me to purchase a Mi Band. The device itself is 15 USD and including VAT and 2-day shipping via DHL (this is a miracle, by the way, because DHL is complete and utter shit and slow as hell usually), it still only ended up being €33.84 (yes, I mixed USD and EUR, get over it). That is roughly a quarter of the price, if you include all the VAT and shipping. It is an eighth if you don’t include it.

Why Mi Band?

So why did I get the Mi Band? Simple really, it fit all the criterium I had set in place.

  1. It is affordable, to the extent that if something was to happen to it, I could easily replace it without breaking the wallet.
  2. It has sleep tracking.
  3. It has a silent alarm feature (it also has a cool “early bird” feature that determines when the best time to wake you up in accordance with your sleeping schedule)
  4. Water resistance (IP67).
  5. Does the obvious tracking of distance / steps. I mean come on, it is a fitness tracker, of course it will.

Note: Xiaomi offers a Mi Band with a heart rate / pulse monitor for a few USD more, called the Mi Band 1S. While only slightly more in cost, I couldn’t really justify spending money to have a monitor that I know is likely to be severely inaccurate, like the majority of heart rate / pulse monitors in other fitness trackers.

Comparison to Fitbit Charge

  1. It doesn’t have a screen for viewing the information it is tracking. On the plus side, it is one less component that can get scratched and look like crap after a while.
  2. It is modular. Unlike the Charge, the hardware is encased in the aluminum body and you can swap (for example, a different color) or remove the band.
    1. This is completely different from the Charge, which has it’s body held into place with four crappy screws and some terrible industrial glue. The lack of quality and natural fatique from constantly re-applying glue to the Charge is one of the reasons I didn’t feel it was worthy of a purchase again.
  3. It has a freaking 30 day battery, compared to the Charge’s 5 day (they pitch 7 to 10 but it wasn’t that). Neither are really an issue, and I imagine a lot of it has to do with the lack of a screen. But man, 6x battery life improvement is pretty awesome.
  4. I don’t think it does stair climb tracking. I haven’t tried it yet nor assessed if the Mi Fit app has stairs as a metric.
  5. Did I mention it is about the same price as a pizza? As in 15 USD. Pretty sure I have but you know, wanted to make sure.

I look forward to seeing how well the Mi Band holds up over the next coming weeks and months. Generally the story goes that “you get what you pay for” but Xiaomi has had the tendency to defy that trend and offer products at price points not really conceivable by most markets, so I remain hopeful!