Foundation Peak evaluate: an excellent health tracker, with room to be an excellent smartwatch

Basis Peak review: a good fitness tracker, with room to be a good smartwatch

Jawbone. Fitbit. Microsoft. And now… Foundation. If you do not know a lot concerning the model, you actually ought to rise up to hurry: The corporate quietly put out top-of-the-line health trackers, and now it is a a part of Intel. Which suggests, it is formally one of many massive names in well being devices. Just like the earlier-era B1 band, the brand new Foundation Peak can routinely detect whenever you’re exercising or asleep, making it one of the automated health trackers round. This time, although, it brings a sharper design, a redesigned app and an improved sensor that may monitor your coronary heart fee if you’re understanding, versus whenever you’re simply sitting nonetheless. What’s extra, it should ultimately be capable of show smartwatch-like notifications on its 1.25-inch touchscreen, at which level it’s going to be far more versatile than your typical health band. Like earlier than, the Peak prices $200, which means it is nonetheless one of many costlier health trackers available on the market. As you will see, although, I am unsure that is a dealbreaker.

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Foundation Peak evaluate

eighty four



  • Can mechanically detect if you’re exercising or sleeping 
  • Steady coronary heart price monitoring
  • Lengthy battery life
  • Snug to put on
  • Interchangeable band


  • Costly for a health tracker
  • Not as engaging as rival units
  • Does not monitor distance
  • Smartwatch-like notifications not obtainable at launch
  • The app nonetheless does not supply a lot perception into what your knowledge means


The Peak’s capability to routinely monitor train and sleep makes it some of the refined health trackers obtainable. Nonetheless, you will get extra worth in your cash as soon as Foundation provides smartphone notifications, which can flip this health band into extra of a smartwatch. 


Basis Peak review: a good fitness tracker, with room to be a good smartwatch

That is the place each evaluation takes a subjective flip. Personally, I feel the Peak is an effective-wanting piece of package. That stated, as I used to be testing it, a number of of my Engadget coworkers made offhand remarks about how ugly the factor is. All of it will depend on your style, I suppose. That, and the way you classify the product to start with. As a health tracker, the Peak is an enormous, clunky factor. It calls means an excessive amount of consideration to itself. Which is to say, it appears extra like a smartwatch, what with its 1.25-inch display and 23mm wristband. And as a smartwatch, properly, it ain’t dangerous. Its black-and-grey monochrome show is definitely dainty in comparison with a number of the massive-display fashions we have seen, just like the LG G Watch R, Moto 360 and Samsung Gear S. As a lady with a bony wrist, I fear the Peak is perhaps slightly an excessive amount of for me. It does not go together with all my outfits both, which does not assist. Nonetheless, so far as smartwatches go, this is likely one of the extra discreet choices. And hey, should you’re a man with thicker bone construction and a extra masculine wardrobe, properly, none of this may even apply to you. I am prepared to guess a dude in a button-down seems to be higher on this watch than I do in a shirt and skirt.

No matter what you consider the design, although, I feel we will agree on this: It is a clear enchancment over Foundation’ final-era health band, the B1. First off, the metallic physique is thinner, so the entire thing simply appears a bit sleeker. Additionally, that touchscreen is definitely new. With out that within the final mannequin, you as an alternative needed to faucet these small screw-like pins caught within the 4 corners of the show. It was ugly, and in addition made the watch sort of tedious to make use of. The touchscreen right here is far sleeker, and in addition simpler to function. Then there’s the band. Whereas it was manufactured from arduous plastic, it is now common out of sentimental silicone, obtainable in black and white. On the black mannequin particularly, the weave sample might be mistaken for matte-end metallic from afar — type of like on the Pebble Metal. (On the white mannequin that I examined? Not a lot.) Anyway, for those who’re not as enamored with the band as I’m (it is cozy, guys!) you possibly can substitute it with any normal 23mm band of your selecting.

Basis Peak review: a good fitness tracker, with room to be a good smartwatch

On the underbelly of the watch face you will discover a new optical coronary heart fee sensor, which glows inexperienced when in use (rather more on this later). There’s additionally a set of charging pins that permit it to suit contained in the proprietary charging cradle. Talking of the type, the Peak is rated for 4 days of battery life, which appears about proper to me — I solely ended up charging it twice every week or so. Not nice for a health tracker, however wonderful for a smartwatch, which this primarily is — or can be.

Beneath the hood, there’s now a Bluetooth LE radio, just like what you will discover in principally each different new smartwatch and health band. Additionally like another units, the Peak is water resistant in as much as 50 meters of strain — a score referred to as “5 ATM.” So, you possibly can safely swim and bathe with it, however you will need to watch out about browsing or some other water sport the place wipeouts are attainable. In fact, too, that is with the usual silicone band — it holds up properly after being submerged in water. Should you swap in your personal 23mm wristband, although, your mileage goes to differ.

Getting began

Basis Peak review: a good fitness tracker, with room to be a good smartwatch

Like different health bands we have examined just lately, the Peak is just suitable with a handful of units, although it is value noting that the choice right here is particularly small. As of this writing, Foundation formally helps simply 5 Android telephones: the Nexus 5, HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S4, S5 and Word three. Examine that with Garmin, whose new Vivosmart band works with 10 totally different Android telephones. It is a irritating state of affairs both means, however extra is certainly higher right here.

Unofficially, the Peak ought to work with any Android telephone operating Android four.four.2 or greater, with a display between three and 6 inches. That is all theoretical, although: In my checks, the Peak would solely pair with units on the official help record. Anyhow, Foundation says it is going to add help for extra handsets over time. And in case you personal a fairly new iPhone, you are already set: The Peak is suitable with the 4s and up, in addition to the fifth-gen iPod contact.

Assuming you are in possession of an formally supported telephone, the setup course of is fast and straightforward. Simply set up the iOS or Android app, and both create a brand new account or check in together with your present one. Then plug the watch into your pc’s USB port utilizing the proprietary cradle, and hit the pair button from contained in the app. At that time, the 2 units ought to begin speaking to one another, and the setup course of ought to simply full itself; at no level do you need to put the watch into pairing mode, or something like that. And there you have got it. Now you are able to placed on the watch and get shifting.

In use

Basis Peak review: a good fitness tracker, with room to be a good smartwatch

What’s all the time made Foundation bands particular is how little work they entail. Because of an arsenal of various sensors, the watch is aware of whenever you’re exercising and whenever you’ve gone to sleep; you by no means should enter a selected mode to ensure that it to work correctly. However although these options aren’t new on the Peak, I nonetheless assume they’re value celebrating. Once I began a exercise on the elliptical machine, the watch took simply 4 seconds to catch on. And once I take a look at my sleep report within the morning, my supposed bedtime all the time matches up intently with the time I noticed on the clock proper earlier than closing my eyes. Foundation’ bands aren’t the prettiest, however they’re the one health trackers I have been capable of put on with any consistency. That is as a result of the hardware is not asking me to do very a lot, aside from put on it.

“So why not simply purchase the unique B1 band on sale?” you are asking now. “It has all the identical core options, does not it?” In truth, the Peak is certainly a bit smarter than its predecessor. Whereas the unique might solely detect your coronary heart price for those who have been sitting nonetheless, or engaged in mild exercise, like strolling, the brand new mannequin can monitor your coronary heart fee even should you’re in the midst of a rigorous exercise. Although this may look like a no brainer function, it truly took a good quantity of R&D earlier than Foundation might determine it out. The issue is that the unique B1 used an optical coronary heart fee sensor that produced loads of sign noise throughout exercises. In the meantime, an electrical sensor like the type utilized in chest straps would have meant chunkier hardware and shorter battery life.

Basis Peak review: a good fitness tracker, with room to be a good smartwatch

Eventually, although, the corporate landed on a brand new optical sensor, one it says is extra correct. I might say it really works as marketed. Throughout an elliptical exercise, I periodically checked my coronary heart price utilizing each the Peak and the elliptical’s constructed-in sensor, and each time the readouts have been both equivalent or very comparable — there was by no means greater than a 3-level distinction. All informed, the guts price sensor captures your coronary heart fee as much as 32 occasions per second, based on an organization spokesperson, which helps clarify why my readings have been so correct, particularly throughout regular-state exercises the place my tempo did not fluctuate a lot.

Take into account, although, that should you’re doing an exercise the place your coronary heart price will increase or decreases quickly, it might take the watch as much as 10 seconds for the gadget to calculate your coronary heart price. The rationale for that lag: the identical algorithm that is designed to chop down on sign noise. It means the watch typically wants a number of additional seconds to assume. Even then, you are not more likely to discover. Foundation says that within the occasion of a lag, the readout shall be delayed; you will not see the studying drop out, and the watch will not hold on the final-recognized quantity both. Principally, then, you’d additionally need to be sporting one other coronary heart price tracker to know for positive whether or not the guts fee studying was in actual time or it was barely delayed. And if it was a couple of seconds off, would you even care? I do not assume I might.

To these of you who nonetheless assume the Peak is however a modest improve over the unique B1, I might additionally encourage you to think about the touchscreen. Not solely does the watch look extra streamlined with none pins across the show, however it’s additionally considerably simpler to make use of. All I’ve to do is swipe from left to proper to see my settings, coronary heart fee and step rely. As a result of the watch lacks a GPS radio, it does not monitor distance, which is a bummer. Foundation has stated that it omitted that half to preserve battery life, and that it assumes individuals will probably be utilizing a smartphone for sports activities apps anyway. That could be true for some individuals, however not all of us wish to work out with a telephone on our individual. Personally, too, if I’ll exit of my method to put on a health tracker, I might like for it to show as many of those “excessive-degree” stats as attainable. Energy and steps taken are a great begin, however I might anticipate to know my day by day mileage too.

At any time, I can swipe up on the watch face to see my day by day exercise totals. Actually, it isn’t that totally different from an Android Put on watch, the place you are principally swiping left and proper, or up and down. That is necessary as a result of the Peak will someday be a smartwatch in its personal proper: Sooner or later earlier than 2014 is up, Foundation will push out a software program replace that brings notifications for issues like voice calls. When the time comes, customers will need to sift via that info shortly and simply. The UI right here creates a very good blueprint for that.


Basis Peak review: a good fitness tracker, with room to be a good smartwatch

Actually, apart from once I take the watch off to cost it or swipe the touchscreen to peek at my step rely, I barely work together with the hardware itself. I simply depart it on my wrist, and am typically capable of overlook it is even there. If something, I have been spending extra of my time within the app. And what a pleasant app it’s. To be clear, this can be a completely separate software from what the older B1 used, with a slicker design and extra intuitive UI. This time round, you’ll be able to see extra info on the primary residence display, together with your coronary heart price, step rely and calorie burn, together with an exercise feed displaying issues like current exercises and final night time’s sleep stats (deep sleep vs. REM sleep, for instance). Every thing is shade-coded, so I do know at a look if I’ve met my objectives (inexperienced) or in the event that they’re in progress (yellow). Something coronary heart-associated seems in purple, which additionally is sensible.

In fact, you can too drill down and get much more element. With sleep, for instance, you possibly can see how a lot deep, REM and lightweight sleep you bought, what number of “interruptions” you had and what number of occasions you tossed and turned. On the subject of issues like deep sleep, you possibly can see each what proportion of your sleep that included, in addition to how a lot time you spent in every of those sleep levels. What to do with all this info? There is a chart breaking all this down, together with an general sleep rating (34 %, for instance, when you solely get 2.5 hours of REM sleep and two hours of deep sleep). Even so, I might use some extra perception into what these stats truly imply. Foundation might do a greater job of not solely explaining that, but in addition providing me personalised recommendation on what I might be doing higher.

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Foundation Peak screenshots

As earlier than, too, Foundation enables you to join challenges — or “habits,” to make use of the corporate’s phrase. Personally, I signed up for “Transfer it” (be lively for half-hour, three days every week) and “Morning Lap” (take 2,000 steps earlier than midday). Oh, and I additionally signed up for “Put on it,” the place I get credit score only for utilizing the factor. (I by no means did say I used to be an overachiever.) There are additionally choices for “Night lap,” having a daily bedtime and wake time, getting as much as stroll round each hour, and so forth. I feel you get the thought.

From the house display, I can see my habits and which of them I’ve fulfilled — you possibly can inform you’re doing a great job as a result of they begin to glow inexperienced as you tick off your numerous objectives. There’s additionally a devoted “habits” web page inside the app the place I can get extra info — say, how lengthy I “wore it” every day, or how a lot lively time I banked every day to win the “Transfer it” problem. At first, you possibly can solely join three habits, however over time, as you persistently apply good habits, you earn the correct so as to add extra. Between that and the encouraging inexperienced shade-coding, I really feel like I am being rewarded for good conduct, and I really feel motivated to maintain up my profitable streak.

The competitors

Basis Peak review: a good fitness tracker, with room to be a good smartwatch

Foundation has numerous competitors, each amongst health bands and smartwatches. That stated, for all of the choices we’ve got proper now, nobody appears to be getting this health-monitoring factor precisely proper. As a result of the Peak can routinely detect whenever you’re understanding or have gone to sleep, it is extra technologically superior than most different health trackers, together with the Fitbit Cost ($one hundred thirty), Microsoft Band ($200), Garmin Vivosmart ($one hundred seventy) and the Jawbone Up24 ($one hundred thirty). (In equity: The forthcoming Up3 may have exercise detection, nevertheless it’s not out but. The Microsoft Band will ultimately get sleep detection too, by means of a future software program replace.) The Peak can also be extra refined than your typical smartwatch — most of them cannot even ship an correct coronary heart price studying, a lot much less inform if you’re exercising or sleeping. And keep in mind that the Peak will quickly ship notifications too, identical to a smartwatch.

I might warning, nevertheless, that it is nonetheless not as glossy as a standalone health band, and even some smartwatches, just like the Moto 360. And once more, whereas the app is an enormous enchancment over the previous one, I’ve seen software program from different corporations that is much more polished, each when it comes to UI in addition to their capacity to encourage customers to stay a more healthy life. Jawbone, particularly, locations an enormous emphasis on delivering insights into how the physique works — reminding you, for example, that you simply crave extra carbs once you’re sleep disadvantaged. Microsoft, in the meantime, appears to have a winner with Microsoft Well being, even when its inaugural Band feels unfinished from a hardware standpoint. All that stated, the Peak’s few shortcomings are outweighed by its strengths. It isn’t good, however it stands as top-of-the-line health trackers you should purchase. Perhaps in the future it’ll even be among the best smartwatches. However hey, first issues first.


Basis Peak review: a good fitness tracker, with room to be a good smartwatch

Regardless of its comparatively excessive worth (and some imperfections), the Foundation Peak continues to be the most effective health trackers you should purchase proper now. That is principally due to how automated it’s, with the power to trace your sleep and exercises with out you having to enter any type of particular mode. A number of different health trackers can do this for train or sleep, however often not each. It is also on the cusp of receiving a software program replace that may make it behave extra like a smartwatch, with notifications for issues like texts. And guess what? When that point comes, the Peak is more likely to have longer battery life than simply about another smartwatch we have examined thus far.

Once more, although, there are some commerce-offs. Whereas the app has seen large enhancements, it nonetheless does not supply as many insights as, say, Jawbone’s. It does not monitor distance, which seems like a foolish omission. The system is greater than competing health trackers, however that’ll matter much less as soon as the Peak will get these smartphone notifications — if it acts like a smartwatch, then it is OK if it seems like one too. On that word, it in all probability is sensible to carry off on shopping for the Peak till that software program replace comes by way of; with out it, you are not utilizing the system to its full potential. Additionally, as you possibly can think about, we might moderately see if the notifications work as marketed. In any case, although, when you insist on shopping for a health tracker now, the Peak is certainly a sensible choice. A dear selection, however a sensible choice nonetheless.

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  • Monitoring metrics Movement / steps, Coronary heart price, Energy, Sleep
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  • Battery life As much as four days
  • Introduced 2014-09-30

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