Lifestyle

Redmi Smart Band review: Gets the bare minimum done

Staying healthy isn’t a costly routine!

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Xiaomi has dominated the wearable segment in India for a long time thanks to its Mi Band lineup. The affordable fitness tracker sells like hotcakes because its price is significantly lower than Fitbit, Garmin, Samsung, and Apple.

Even though many companies have tried to grab the affordable market, none have come close to Xiaomi’s dominance. Now, the Chinese gadget maker wants every piece of the wearable market and has launched the Redmi Smart Band, an inexpensive fitness tracker that costs just INR 1,599 (US$ 22). It has also launched the Mi Watch Revolve to grab the premium share while the Mi Smart Band 5 sits in the middle.

The price of the Redmi Smart Band makes it a lovely product to have, especially when we consider its display, fitness functionality, and battery life. I’ve used the fitness tracker for almost a month, and there’s a lot to love about it, but that doesn’t make this a perfect gadget. If you’re considering a purchase, this review will help you determine whether this tracker is fit to be your GadgetMatch!

It has a boxy design that feels very light and comfortable

The Redmi Smart Band has a very boxy design that almost looks like you’re wearing a rectangle display module on your wrist. However, it’s very light at just 13 grams, and after a few hours, it’ll just become a part of your body. The natural placement is comfortable for extended an duration and perfect for natural sleep tracking.

The band material is soft, and there’s no irritation or decay. Thanks to 5ATM water resistance, you can wear it while doing the dishes or take a swim whenever you want. The metal buckle is tight enough and didn’t open up accidentally even once. Considering how light it is, having a secure strap is important because you may not realize when it falls off.

Another great feature of the band is its direct USB charging capability. No need to carry along a tiny wire or charging pod along because a USB is located on the tracker’s body and can be directly plugged into an adapter by removing one side of the strap. It takes approximately two hours to charge completely.

I’d advise being a little careful with the USB port because it’s made of plastic. While removing the strap, don’t apply a lot of force. A few adapters were having trouble charging the band due to loose connection, but this wasn’t widespread. Just ensure you have a trustworthy brick when on the go.

A disappointing display

On the front is a 1.08-inch color and touch display with a resolution of 128 x 220 pixels. Unlike the Mi Smart Band, it isn’t an OLED panel, and the maximum brightness is disappointing. Under direct sunlight, you’ll have to keep one hand over it and strain your eyes to see a notification or activity.

The brightness is still manageable though. The display’s touch detection is terrible and doesn’t work half the time. This isn’t a remote incident because other users have reported a similar problem. It’s UI is based on gestures, and there’s a capacitive button on the bottom. The swipes are barely registered, and the accuracy is all over the place. Cutting corners, Xiaomi ended up with an appalling display that’ll test your patience.

This is the only aspect of the band I didn’t like. Even though it has a very pocket-friendly price, the screen is a major turn-off. It doesn’t do justice to all the other features that make this a very potent fitness tracker.

Lastly, the display is sufficiently big, but the notifications are hard to read. Pixels are very easily seen, and I’d have to pause and focus on the display to read the notifications. The process doesn’t feel natural, and while driving, the notifications are seldom easily visible. This kind of defeats the wearable’s purpose because it’s supposed to be an extension of my phone while I’m driving or riding. The text size cannot be changed.

It has some nifty features that come in very handy, like Raise To Wake, Watch Faces, Weather, and Alarms. It isn’t a smartwatch, so there’s no app store. But, you can select a watch face from a wide collection and even customize to your preference. This adds a convenient layer of personalization and doesn’t look old or boring.

What about fitness?

This is where things get interesting. Xiaomi has years of experience making inexpensive trackers, and this is clearly visible here. The Redmi Smart Band can accurately track your steps, distance, calorie burn, and heart rate. The small tracker is very accurate and gets the job done perfectly. It comes with five preloaded modes — outdoor running, walking, treadmill, cycling, and freestyle modes.

Sleep tracking is also very accurate and works flawlessly in the background. A cool feature is, the band can detect when it’s worn, and the heart rate sensor will work only when it’s on your wrist. So, if you remove it, the sensors won’t drain your battery. However, workouts will be tracked only if your phone is connected, so don’t forget to take along your phone everywhere. This isn’t a standalone wearable, and I wouldn’t expect one at this price. Lastly, it doesn’t have a swimming mode despite being water resistant.

The tracker connects to your phone via the Xiaomi Wear app, and it’ll compile all the information from the band simply and elegantly. The depth of displayed information is actually beneficial, and the app is seamless to use. The band supports Bluetooth 5.0 and works with any Android phone.

A more than decent battery life

Lastly, the Redmi Smart Band has a 130mAh battery that the company claims can last up to two weeks. While Xiaomi’s battery claims are usually spot-on, this tracker doesn’t even come close to the stated figure. It lasts me a week with notifications switched on and full-time heart rate tracking.

One week’s battery is honestly, very good. Especially when we compare it to a premium gadget like the Apple Watch, that barely gets you 24 hours. Even though the band doesn’t stand true to its claims, seven days is a perfectly fine time period and I don’t hold anything against the product. It doesn’t have an OLED display, so I’m pretty sure that’s where a majority of the electrons are headed!

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for a fitness tracker that’ll help you maintain your health regimen, the Redmi Smart Band is a very competent tracker that’ll never disappoint. The tracking is accurate, it has sufficient features, and the color display looks enticing.

However, if you’re looking for a general wearable for instant notifications and time, the Redmi Smart Band isn’t for you. The screen is pathetically bad in registering swipes and gets very annoying. Adding to this, notifications aren’t even easily visible under direct sunlight.

If you’re looking for an alternative, the Mi Smart Band 5 has just launched in the country. It comes with a heavier price tag, but definitely has more features and looks way more premium. In the same price bracket, the realme Band is a solid product because it doesn’t try to be as fancy as the Redmi Smart Band and gets all the basics done.

Entertainment

Netflix is embracing Anime even more

5 new major, diverse projects are on the horizon

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It’s a great time to be an anime fan. Netflix hasn’t only been adding popular titles to their library, they’ve also fully embraced anime with five major projects to look forward to.

The five newly announced projects are: Rilakkuma’s Theme Park Adventure, Thermae Romae Novae, High-Rise Invasion, Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan and The Way of the Househusband. Each add to the diverse and never-before-seen catalogue of stories straight from our creative home in Japan.

Why Anime?

Netflix says anime titles have appeared in the Top 10 list in almost 100 countries this year so far. Over 100 million households around the world chose to watch at least one anime title on Netflix (Oct 2019 – Sept 2020), growing by 50% year-over-year.

Titles like Seven Deadly Sins and BAKI have resonated with fans globally. Seven Deadly Sins became one of the Top 10 titles among all series and films in over 70 countries since its launch, and Baki in almost 50 countries.

There’s a total of 16 titles to be excited about. The first five on this list are completely new while the rest were previously announced and are expected to arrive in 2021.

Five new projects

Rilakkuma’s Theme Park Adventure

The production of the new series of Rilakkuma has been produced in stop-motion animation following the success of “Rilakkuma and Kaoru.” The series depicts an active day of incidents and meetings that take place when Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma, Kiiroitori, and Kaoru go play in an amusement park that is about to close.

Thermae Romae Novae

The very popular manga by Yamazaki Mari has been brought back to life in the present day in a new way (“Novae” means “new” in Latin). Based on the  manga, new episodes created by Mari Yamazaki will also appear. Lucius, a bath designer in the Roman Empire, accidentally slips back in time to present day Japan and learns about Japanese bath culture in this comedy.

High-Rise Invasion

Based on the manga by Miura Tsuina (Ajin) and Takahiro Oba (Box!), this is an unpredictable and frightening survival story set in high-rise buildings that don’t reach the ground. The protagonist, Yuri, decides to survive in order to destroy this illogical world and kill the enemy wearing the “mask”, but what will she do?

Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan

This series consists of four strange episodes that Kishibe Rohan, the manga artist from “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable,” saw and heard in a destination he visited to collect material for the manga.

The Way of the Househusband  

The most evil yakuza, Tatsu, is a legend in the underworld. He chose to walk away from the yakuza to become a full-time househusband!

Updates on 11 upcoming titles

EDEN (Coming May 2021)

A completely new story from director Irie Yasuhiro and the creators of the world, this sci-fi fantasy follows Sarah, a girl raised by two robots, as she confronts the world.

RESIDENT EVIL: Infinite Darkness (Coming 2021)

Known as the gold standard of survival horror games with over 100 million units from the game series shipped worldwide, “Resident Evil” has now been transformed into a Netflix original CG anime series. Three years after 2017’s CG film “Resident Evil: Vendetta,” technology has further evolved, creating the groundwork for a new series in unprecedented full 3DCG animation.

Vampire in the Garden (Coming 2021)

Once upon a time, there was a world where vampires and humans lived together in “Paradise”. This is the story of a young girl, Momo, and the vampire queen, Fine, who traveled in search of “Paradise.” This is a completely new work by WIT STUDIO, well-known for “Attack on Titan” and talented creators.

Yasuke (Coming Soon 2021)

In a war-torn feudal Japan filled with mechs and magic, the greatest ronin never known, Yasuke, struggles to maintain a peaceful existence after a past life of violence. But when a local village becomes the center of social upheaval between warring daimyo, Yasuke must take up his sword and transport a mysterious child who is the target of dark forces and bloodthirsty warlords.The story of Yasuke, the first African samurai who actually served the legendary Oda Nobunaga, will be released to the world.

Godzilla Singular Point (Coming 2021)

This series features a brand new staff and original story which depicts the young geniuses Mei Kamino, a female researcher, and Yun Arikawa, a male engineer, as they take on an unprecedented threat with their companions.

Pacific Rim: The Black (Coming Soon 2021)

There was a time when Kaiju rose from the Pacific Rim only to encounter gigantic robots, Jaegers, built to fight them back. That time has passed. Now, Australia has been overrun by Kaiju, forcing the evacuation of an entire continent. Left behind, teenage siblings Taylor and Hayley embark on a desperate search for their missing parents, teaching themselves to pilot a battered, long-abandoned Jaeger to help in their quest and give them even the slightest hope of surviving.

Transformers: War for the Cybertron Trilogy (Coming Soon)

The WAR FOR CYBERTRON continues with the second chapter, EARTHRISE! With the Allspark gone, Megatron is forced to confront the harsh reality that his Decepticons are trapped on a dying Cybertron while also fighting off the persistent threat of Elita-1 and her Autobots. Meanwhile, lost in the darkest reaches of space, Optimus Prime and his team embark on a desperate mission that will push them to the breaking point as they travel to uncharted new worlds to face spacefaring mercenaries, enigmatic figures from long ago and even their own creators.

Trese (Coming 2021)

Set in Manila where the mythical creatures of Philippine folklore live in hiding amongst humans, Alexandra Trese finds herself going head to head with a criminal underworld composed of malevolent supernatural beings.

B: The Beginning Succession (Coming Soon 2021)

After Keith and Koku solved the incidents successfully , the world has regained its composure. In the months since then, Keith returns to the RIS to conduct his own investigation, and Koku is living a peaceful life with Yuna. They are visited by Kirisame, who was once supposed to have broken up with Kurou in death at the Faura Blanca Institute.

Baki Hanma (Coming 2021)

The story finally unfolds into a full-blooded clash between Baki Hanma and his father, Yujiro Hanma, who is known as the “strongest creature on earth.” The climax of the Baki universe, which depicted the “strongest parent-child brawl in history of the world” in the original manga, has been adapted into the long-awaited anime!

Spriggan

The legendary manga that took the world by storm in the 1990s has been vividly brought to this animated series by utilizing 2D drawings and 3DCG. The legacy of an outstanding civilization that once existed on this planet is said to still be hidden in various parts of the world. The military of major powers has intervened in the excavation and research of this mysterious and powerful heritage, and has begun battling over it. At the same time, an organization called “Spriggan” is working to seal up this ancient civilization. This is a high speed action series featuring battles over ancient relics!

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Gaming

Garmin launches an Instinct smartwatch for esport athletes

Comes with exclusive features too

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Garmin Instinct Esports Edition

Garmin’s line of Instinct smartwatches traditionally caters to outdoor sports, with variants built for running, swimming, and even golfing. Now, the company is introducing a new smartwatch variant that caters to e-sport athletes and gamers  — Garmin Instinct Esports Edition.

For some skeptics, this is not just another Garmin smartwatch though. It actually comes with a unique set of features for esports athletes and gamers. The most unique feature of the smartwatch is the ability to live stream the health data of a gamer to audiences.

Thanks to a dedicated esports activity tracking function, gamers can keep tabs on their heart rate and stress while in a gaming session. A PC tool called STR3AMUP! broadcasts these data to live stream platforms, allowing audiences to see a gamer’s vital info too. That tool also allows customization so gamers can personalize the data to their own liking.

Now, some might be skeptical about this. After all, health data are sensitive information and some audiences might not really find those data useful.

However, Garmin sees potential with their smartwatch all the more thanks to an exclusive live broadcast feature. During a game, gamers can tune in to the new Body Battery  Energy Monitor reading, which combines heart rate, stress, and sleep data to determine their body’s energy.

Same specs as other Instinct smartwatches

Besides those unique selling points, Garmin Instinct Esports Edition is no different from the regular Instinct smartwatch. As such, it has a heart rate monitor, all-day activity tracking, and some smart features like receiving and viewing notifications.

Unfortunately, there is no support for third-party apps like other Garmin smartwatches. Support for music storage isn’t here too.

On the bright side, the smartwatch can stand the extreme elements thanks to a fiber-reinforced polymer body and a water rating of 10ATM. Garmin’s official battery figures are 80 hours in esports mode and 14 days in smartwatch mode.

As for the pricing, the smartwatch starts at US$ 299.99 and comes in a sole Black Lava configuration. Gamers can now purchase it directly from Garmin’s website.

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Accessories

Huawei launches FreeBuds Studio before Apple’s AirPods Studio

Noise reduction upto 40dB

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Officially called the Huawei FreeBuds Studio, it marks the entry of the company in the over-the-ear Bluetooth headphone market. The FreeBuds Studio are designed to be premium and go up against offerings from Sony, Bose, and Sennheiser.

The headphones offer a 40mm driver with 4-layer Polymer diaphragm. The company claims that it can reproduce frequencies as high as 48KHz and can go down to 4 Hz. It supports L2HC codec for best possible audio output and features six mics for calls that reduce background noise.

It also comes with eight mics that team up and provide dynamic noise cancellation. Huawei claims the headphones can reduce noise by 40dB and the headphones can automatically choose between three modes based on the surrounding environment. These modes are called Ultra Mode, Cozy Mode and General Mode.

Coming to battery life, the headphones can go 24 hours on a single charge, and fast charging ensures you get eight houts of playback within just 10 minutes. Although, these are official figures from the company and actual practical usage will definitely vary.

The FreeBuds Studio are priced at EUR 299 (US$ 354) and sales start from November. However, the brand hasn’t been clear about country-wise availability yet.

Huawei is a very interesting company because on one side it launches unique and mindboggling products like the Mate series, but leaves no stone unturned to take a cue from Apple. The AirPods Studio have been rumored for a long time and Huawei jumped the gun to launch its product first but took a lot of inspiration from Apple’s marketing.

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