I received a nice watch several years ago on my 18th birthday that I’ve worn nearly every day since. As a result, I’ve been more than a little reluctant to embrace the emerging smartwatch trend. After all, how can something made by a technology company, with let's face it, relatively little knowledge on what constitutes as fashionable, ever look as beautiful as a handmade Swiss watch?
However, with the launch of the Apple Watch looming, I decided to cave in and try my first wearable. I’ve been wearing the £170 Basis Peak smartwatch on my wrist for just over a week now and I’ve got mixed feelings about it.
One of my main concerns with smartwatches is their appearance. The first devices to hit the market were big and bulky but the designs have actually become slicker following the unveiling of the Apple Watch, with the Huawei Watch looking particularly stylish.
At first, I didn’t think the Basis Peak looked that bad with its simple black wristband and relatively small screen but several of my friends deemed it ugly over the course of the week, with one flatmate bursting into laughter at the sight of it.
One thing I will say is that I actually really like getting texts, calls and diary alerts direct to my wrist, complete with a friendly little vibration. In fact, I'd actually like to receive more things to my wrist, such as Twitter and Facebook notifications, in addition to reminders and updates from other apps. Unfortunately, the Basis Peak isn't capable of delivering these but devices like the Apple Watch and the Pebble Time Steel will be able to, as can many of the other internet-connected smartwatches already on the market.
While the Basis Peak isn't connected to the internet (it syncs to smartphones via Bluetooth), it was still able to deliver a number of useful measurements.
When I first put the Basis Peak on, I enjoyed the novelty of being able to see my heart rate and how many steps I’d done that day, with one or two screen swipes.
Other fitness and sleep tracking capabilities of the smartwatch are good but they could be improved. I found myself chasing that all important 10,000 step milestone on a daily basis but when it came to reviewing my activity levels on the mobile app at the end of the day I soon tuned out due to the clunky Basis user interace, which is far from intuitive. Personally, I much prefer the way that mobile apps like Runkeeper and Strava record and present runs and cycles; they tap into the phone's GPS functionality to include maps and average speeds.
The Basis Peak is able to record a number of other physical variables, such as body temperature and the amount you sweat through the day.
At nearly a week, the battery life is impressive by smartwatch standards, but then it doesn’t deliver many of the features that devices like the soon-to-be-released Pebble Time Steel does - and that has a similar battery life of 5-7 days.
The Basis Peak has caught my attention but the device that will determine whether I, and many others like me, buy into the smartwatch revolution will be available to buy at the end of the month.