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The Basis Peak In-Depth Review

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When the Basis Peak was announced earlier this fall it was designed to fill in the gaps as well as build upon their previous product, the Basis B1, that was released about 2 years ago.  The Basis watch has always been a bit unique in the market in that it has an optical HR sensor on the backside of the watch that monitors and records a slew of body metrics 24×7.  The challenge though with the first generation B1 is that it lacked the ability to accurately track heart rate during exercise, such as running.  This made it much less appealing to athletes.

I’ve had the unit for about a week now and have been wearing it 24×7 (except when charging), and at this point I’ve got a pretty good grasp of how it works across everything from running and cycling to just regular walking and sleeping.

While I typically use a unit a bit longer before writing up a review, I’ve heard that many of you are looking for my thoughts sooner rather than later.  And ultimately, while I could wait for future firmware updates – the product is fully released to the wild, so it’s fair game as far as I’m concerned.  I’m also already very familiar with the core aspects of how the Basis platform works from years of their other device, so it’s really the new features in the Basis Peak that are the differentiators.

The question is – did these new features hit the mark?  For that…read on!

Oh, and for clarity’s sake – I bought the unit myself.

What’s in the Box:

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The Basis Peak comes in a clear-topped box that lets you cleanly see the watch itself.  Down below deck is a box including the charger and quick start guide.

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When it comes to the charger, the unit simply snaps into it using a little bit of magnetic power.  The other end you can plug into any USB port on the planet.  The charger is technically two pieces; the plate and then the micro-USB cable (kinda nice, in case you need a longer cable).

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Meanwhile, you’ve got the watch itself.  You’ll want to remove the clear plastic protector piece, else, you’ll forever think your heart rate is 82BPM and the time 1:25PM.

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On the back you’ve got the sensor arrangement and charging portions.  Together this enables the Basis Peak to gather everything from heart rate to perspiration and skin temperature.

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If you were to compare it to the older Basis B1, you’ll find that it’s slightly wider, but is actually much thinner, so it doesn’t feel that big.  In fact, I’d say that the marketing shots from Basis do it a disservice and would have you believe the watch is much larger than it is.  So it’s nice that it’s much smaller than I expected.

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And finally, for the heck of it – here’s a comparison to another well styled watch – the Withings Activité.  Both units do look rather sleek, and neither look out of place in a workplace setting.  The first photo in this post was taken of me in a suit (by The Girl!), and you can see it clearly fits in.  Plus, the screen is sharp and easily illuminated via the backlight at night.  Both major improvements over the Basis B1.

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The Hardware Basics:

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The Basis Peak has a slightly slimmer appearance than the original Basis B1.  The hardware looks less boxy and more sleek.  The backside of the unit still retains its hallmark sensor suite, including the optical sensor, which is core to the Peak’s capabilities.

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That sensor illuminates and spits out a green light virtually 24×7.  That light then goes through your skin and is measured by the sensor to determine your heart rate (HR) optically.  In addition to the optical HR, the unit also captures skin temperature and perspiration information.

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Like all other optical sensors on the market, the evil enemy of them is outside light.  As such, you’ll want to ensure that you wear the Basis somewhat snugly.  It doesn’t need to be snake-like-tight, but it shouldn’t be flopping around like a charm bracelet.

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The unit contains no physical buttons.  Instead, it contains a touch screen.  This touch screen accepts swipes and has a few yes/no style options.

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While I found the swipes mostly worked in dry weather, I find neither swipes nor option selection worked with any sort of water on the screen (during rain).  I also found that when in the shower sometimes the screen will go crazy.  At one point it had managed to almost completely de-pair with the phone without me touching it, with only the final ‘No’ selection before I managed to wrestle back control and continue shampooing my hair.

On the bright side, the unit is fully waterproofed to a 50 meter standard.  I’ve worn it in water without any issues, and no issues from a leakage standpoint in the shower of course either.

Next there’s the strap, which is detachable using the quick little lever:

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Both sides of the strap can be detached easily and quickly, which allows you to buy other colored straps.  The strap is surprisingly super-soft feeling.  Though, over the past week it’s lost the sharp glossy black look to it that you can see in the unboxing photos (or the first photo in this post, which I took the night I unboxed it).

Finally, here’s a quick video I put together showing some of the basics of the watch, including the swiping through the menus:

Oh, and lastly, about the battery. It’s rated at four days.  I’m not quite sure I’ve gotten four days worth, instead roughly three days from a full charge.  I’ve also seen cases like last night where the battery died while I was sleeping.  When I went to sleep there was no low-battery warning either.  So perhaps the low-battery warning is set a touch bit too low (I did see it over the weekend and charged then).

With those core concepts out of the way, let’s move onto daily activity tracking use.

A Daily Activity Tracker:

The Basis Peak is a fairly capable activity tracker and manages to track more metrics than virtually any other product on the market.  Like most activity trackers, there’s nothing you need to do for it to track your metrics – it just does it.

From a baseline standpoint, it’ll cover steps and calories.  The totals for the day can be seen by swiping up from the heart rate screen:

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Next, you can swipe right again to the activity screen, which will show you recent ‘activities’.  Think of these more like ‘moments when you weren’t sitting down’.

For example, it would show my walk to where I took this photo, which was 178 steps long and took 1 minute and 30 seconds…and occurred 9 minutes prior.

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If you swipe up from there, you’ll see the total activity totals during the day.  So essentially, you’ll see the totals of all of those defined/categorized activities (such as a walk to the store, or a run).

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Of course, all of this daily activity tracking swiping would have taken you past one of the core selling points – which is the optical HR monitor screen, which is easily accessed by swiping just once to the right from the main time screen:

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The majority of the time your HR will be displayed instantly.  However, sometimes it appears the Basis Peak gets bored of you and goes to sleep, and then has to reacquire your heart rate – so you’ll get this instead:

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Sometimes that acquisition takes a few seconds, and sometimes it takes 2-3 tries of 30-45 seconds each.

When it comes to displays, that’s about all there is on the unit from a metric standpoint (outside of the sport mode I’ll talk about in a moment).  Disappointingly, you can’t see total distance walked.  Nor is there any stair counter within the unit.

On the flip side, with the Basis you do get metrics not shown on the watch – like skin temperature and perspiration.  Those are only shown online.  You’ll see them when you pull open the activity details page:

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This page is your one stop shop when it comes to seeing what you did on any given day.  For example, that massive spike of perspiration is actually when I took a shower.  At the bottom, you’ll see the overview of how active you were in those time blocks.  You can turn on and off the different metrics such as heart rate and skin temperature.

Of course, one of the challenges with the perspiration and skin temp data is what exactly to do with it, from an actionable standpoint.  What is good?  What is bad?  And how should I change my day based on that?

You can see it spikes a bit more (along with HR) during this run that I did below around 3:30PM:

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It’s also nice that it separates out walking from running steps – an area that most other activity trackers just lump together under one big category of walking.

Sport and Fitness:

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One of the core features that was marketed as being added/improved to the Basis Peak over the Basis B1 was the ability to get accurate heart rate data during exercise, such as running.  The previous Basis B1 was unable to get accurate heart rate data during exercise, as the optical sensor wasn’t optimized for it.

The Basis Peak includes two different automatic exercise recognition modes, one for running and one for cycling.  Within these modes it’ll automatically determine that you’re doing one of those activities and then trigger new activity data pages for it.  No button pressing required (or even possible actually), it just happens.  And, it’s pretty cool when it happens:

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I find that within about 45 seconds of starting my run, it’ll show the new exercise page.  What’s neat though is that it shows me starting those 45 seconds earlier. So even though it takes a short bit of time to realize you’re going for a run (versus just running to the kitchen to catch a pot boiling over), it correctly ‘backdates’ things to capture the whole run.

Once you stop running, it does the same pretty quickly too.

While running you can swipe up/down to a few different pages.  These pages show you your heart rate as well as steps per minute, time of run, time of day, total steps, and calories.

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It does not, disappointingly, show you distance though.  It doesn’t utilize the internal accelerometers to determine distance, nor does it leverage GPS from a phone.  Just to be clear: No distance.  Not here, not on the phone, not on the website.  Not anywhere.

Now, when it comes to outdoor cycling, the concept is pretty similar.  It just takes a little bit longer, about 4-5 minutes in my experience.  Once it realizes that you’re riding a bike, then it switches to similar data fields for riding, except not showing step-related items.

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Like the automatic running detection – it’s pretty cool and works quite well each time. It also properly backdates the start of the ride too.

So what about the all-important heart rate accuracy during exercise?  Well…that’s where the whole deck of cards comes tumbling down.  I’ve found two specific issues during my use.  First is that the unit often doesn’t start properly recording HR at the beginning of a run.  It’s like it went outside and took a vacation.  So I’ll get things like this (below screenshot) at the start of runs.

It’s not until I notice a few minutes later and manually change to the HR display page that it goes and finds my HR and displays it (which usually takes another few minutes).  You can see this in the graph where instantly HR shows up mid-run:

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Then there’s just the accuracy piece.  The HR is definitely improved over the Basis B1. But, it’s still not accurate all the time.  It’s gone from an grade of an “F” to a “D or C-”.  It generally trends in the right direction (like above run), but I still get random data points that are not at all accurate (like below run).

I should point out that optical HR recognition is far from a prefect science.  In general, it’ll work on about 95% of people.  And in general, given I’ve tested every optical HR sensor product on the market, I know that I’m probably the easiest person on the planet to get optical HR working on.  My skin is very light, with my arms not being super-hairy – ideal conditions.  I am also happy to know exactly where on my arm optical sensors work best.  But, that said, you’ll still see variations between people.  While my experience hasn’t been awesome – I’m sure there are others who it might work for consistently.

And it’s the consistently part that’s my issue.  In the above run, you can see that once it decided to do its work, it tracked fairly well and smoothly to a HR strap.  Whereas in the approximately 75 minute run below you can see that there are many data points down in the 120bpm range, that are incorrect (it’s the orange dots showing HR).

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For example, in the above very steady-state run, my actual HR as measured by a standard HR strap consistently stayed between roughly 155-161BPM.  There were no stops in this that caused my HR to drop.  The Basis, as you can see above – randomly threw in drops and spikes.  A pattern I’d see on all my runs.  Below, is the same run from a traditional HR strap recorded on another device.  As you can see there are no random drops, nor missing segments.

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Now the Peak does include the ability to re-broadcast your HR to other devices via Bluetooth Smart, which, is pretty cool.  It’s something not found for example on the Microsoft Band, the Fitbit Charge HR, Fitbit Surge, or Samsung devices.

Whereas with the Basis Peak all you need to do (at any time) is simply open up an app on your phone (or other device) that can connect to Bluetooth Smart heart rate monitors using the standard profile.  For example: Strava (cycling focused), MapMyRun (running focused), or just Wahoo Fitness.  Once you’ve paired the unit, it’ll show a little dual-line wavey icon on the Peak’s time home page that a connection is in progress to an app.

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From there it’ll receive the data and allow you to record it like any other HR strap.  This is extremely helpful since there is no other method to export historical/activity data from the Basis platform.  I did notice however that signal strength was a bit weak coming off the Basis Peak, so you’ll want to have the phone on the same arm as your watch to ensure there aren’t drops – sorta like the Mio Link.

The challenge I have though is that heart rate accuracy falls into the category of “You had one job”.  As in, Basis Peak, you had one job: Get HR right during exercise.  After all, with only a few tangible changes over the B1 that’s pretty much the biggest.  And to that end for myself it fails in this crucial category.

Sleep:

Unlike quite a few activity trackers, the Basis Peak will automatically recognize sleep, which is cool.  No button pressing required. Simply fall asleep, and it easily tracks that.  It doesn’t show anything on the unit itself while you’re sleeping, though, that’d be somewhat silly since you’re…ya know…asleep.

Instead, you’ll find that data online afterwards, in the activity timeline, with one line item for each sleep (or, a period where it thinks you’re sleeping).

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Next, you can look at the sleep-specific charts to see what type of sleep you were in, based on the estimation by Basis:

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And what’s cool here is that you can then zoom in on the activity data as well for the time periods where you were asleep to see what was going on.  For example, you’ll see my average HR for the night was 49BPM.  And you can see where it looks like I must have gotten up briefly to go to the bathroom.

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The only problem I’m seeing is that the unit often confuses watching TV or other non-moving events for sleep.  For example, last Friday night I went to the opera, and the Basis had almost down to the minute assumed that for each act I was asleep. The first act started at 7:30PM (so we were in our seats by that 7:26PM noted), and then ended at 8:30PM, just when it said I woke up.  And the second act started a couple minutes after 9PM, and ended 45 minutes later.

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But I generally am seeing the same thing as well for watching a TV show. In fact, if you scroll back up to the overview screenshot at the start of this section, you see it showing me asleep at 12:35AM for 21 minutes. In reality, that was just watching a TV show.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any method to ‘discard’ a sleep session, so on a given day I end up with 1-2 false positives I’d like to get rid of, otherwise it ends up showing I slept more than I did each day.  Though, perhaps that’s a small hint that I should sleep more…

The Phone App:

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The Basis Peak utilizes a new app from Basis, aptly called Basis Peak, that’s a bit different than the older Basis app.  This app is available on iOS and Android.  Like virtually all other activity trackers on the market these days, it requires a Bluetooth Smart capable phone, which means you need Bluetooth 4.0.  For iOS, that’s the iPhone 4S and newer, and for Android it’s Android 4.4.2 and newer for the OS, plus phone hardware that has Bluetooth 4.0.  They list their supported phones here.

Strangely, there’s no method to sync via PC or Mac, like the previous Basis units.  I suspect though that virtually everyone who is interested in this device has a smartphone from the last few years so I can’t argue too much with that logic in this specific case.

In any case, once you’ve established the pairing between the phone and the Peak, it’ll set the time on your device to match that of your phone.  The sync will occur occasionally when it’s on, though, I find that it’s not quite as up to date as other activity trackers (frequency of sync).  You can always manually sync it by pressing the ‘Sync now’ button.

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The phone app itself will show the majority of the core data seen throughout this review shown on the Basis website.  For example, you can look at your steps, activities and habits.

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Speaking of which, habits are essentially daily goals that you try and check off.  For example, wearing the watch a certain amount each day, for a number of days in a row.  Or, going to bed at a specific time or waking up at a specific time.  Same goes for getting in a nice little walk at certain times of the day.

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You unlock habits by simply completing the different goals the minimum specified number of times for that habit.

Within the app you can also display the battery level as well as tweak a few minor settings like the time and date display formats.  Further, you can setup different notifications from the app (to be displayed on your phone), or to e-mail (to your e-mail address) as you hit various targets:

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The app does the job, but there’s a lot of minor UI bugs in it.  For example, in the above screenshot I had sync’d about 5 minutes prior.  Yet, it doesn’t know when the last sync was.  And even then, sync’ing can be finicky.  You often have to exit out of the application and back again to make it happy.  It’s not a show-stopper, but is annoying.

Finally note that at this time Basis has not yet released the firmware update for the Peak that enables smartphone notifications.  Thus, I don’t have them covered here.  Once they do that, I’ll update this section accordingly.

Product Comparison Tool:

I’ve added the Basis Peak into my product comparison tool, so you can compare it against the older Basis B1, as well as compare it against any other activity tracker product that I’ve reviewed to date.  Here’s the two Basis products side by side:

Function/FeatureBasis PeakBasis B1
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated December 4th, 2014 @ 3:26 pmNew Window
Price$199$199 (now discontinued)
Body PlacementWristWrist
Data Transfer TypeBluetooth 4.0USB & Bluetooth 2.1
Bluetooth to PhoneYesYes
Has GPS built-inNoNo
WaterproofingYes, 50mShower, no swimming
Battery Life4 days4-6 days
Battery TypeUSB RechargeableUSB Rechargeable
WatchBasis PeakBasis B1
Displays timeYesYes
Has time alarmsNoNo
NotificationsBasis PeakBasis B1
Smartphone NotificationsFuture updateNo
WorkoutsBasis PeakBasis B1
Workout guidance/coachingNoNo
DataBasis PeakBasis B1
Step CounterYesYes
Stairs ClimbedNoNo
Distance WalkedNoNo
Calories BurnedYesYes
Sleep MetricsYesYes
SensorsBasis PeakBasis B1
Skin TemperatureYesYes
Heart RateYesYes
Can re-broadcast Heart Rate dataYes (as Bluetooth Smart HR)No
Skin PerspirationYesYes
Cycling SensorsNoNo
Action Camera ControlNoNo
SoftwareBasis PeakBasis B1
Web ApplicationYesYes
PC ApplicationNoYes
Mac ApplicationNoYes
Phone AppsAndroid/iOSAndroid/iOS
Ability to export/sync settings from computer/phoneYesYes
PlatformBasis PeakBasis B1
3rd parties can access data via APINoNo
Ability to export your data out of platformNoNo
PurchaseBasis PeakBasis B1
Amazon LinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerBasis PeakBasis B1
Review LinkLinkLink

Of course, you can customize the product comparison tool here to show you any activity tracker on the market.

Final Thoughts:

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I feel like Basis as a company (now owned by Intel) is in a conflicted state right now.  So, I’m going to help a bit (even though they probably don’t want my advice…they can consider it a free gift).  They’ve got a cool watch for data geeks, but they need to accept that it’s targeted towards data geeks and not the mainstream market.  The first step towards reform is acceptance.

Right now, they’re still trying to ride the wave of it being there for the mainstream health and fitness market (that’s how Silicon Valley folks sell these device ideas to investors).  Except, the reality is that the people buying this specific device are people who are fundamentally into metrics and deep statistics.  It isn’t actually necessarily the Ironman athlete, in fact, it’s generally not. It’s far more likely to be tech-focused geeks (such as myself) that are interested in it.  It’s someone who might work with technology frequently, or enjoys playing with gadgets.

To that end, it stumbles in the categories that they had to deliver for that tech-focused consumer. It’s not accurate during exercise.  It still doesn’t allow any official form of data export (the only company that doesn’t, after 2+ years).  Though, it does at least re-transmit your HR in real-time to other devices/apps.  And while the company has previously stated smartphone notifications are coming this month, it’s not quite yet there.  These are all core things that data-minded folks want (and other products deliver in various forms today out of the box).

On the flipside, if Basis were to go after the less-data minded crowd, they’d need to lower their price and make their website more approachable to that market. For example, the ability to follow friends like every other activity tracking platform.  Such as leaderboards and related social focused options such as those found on FitBit or Nike+.   Or heck, just showing the distance you walk (which even sub-$50 activity trackers do).  Otherwise, it sits where it is right now – a device that’s not ideal for either the more mainstream market or the data driven market.  Said differently: Sitting on the fence really only makes your crotch hurt.

Which makes it funny then, that despite my somewhat significant annoyances with the unit, I still think it’s kinda cool.  It’s just that it’s most definitely not the ‘all in one’ device that many hoped it’d be.  Nor is it anywhere near the replacement of a GPS watch or even just a simple HR monitoring watch.  It is, essentially exactly what the first Basis B1 watch was: A really cool and geeky way to monitor the 23 hours of the day you’re not exercising.

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176 Comments

  1. Tommies

    Hi Ray,

    You never sleep ? :)

  2. Tommies

    Hi ray,

    small correction. You never sleep more than 5 hours ?

  3. BobV190

    I have had my Peak for about two weeks and pretty much agree with your assessment. The aggravating part is that on some runs/rides the HR tracks perfectly the entire time. And on others, it is all over the board. It is consistently inconsistent which is frustrating. I make sure to wear it in the same position each time, so I don’t think that is having in impact.

    But overall, I like it, and will continue to use it. I am looking forward to notifications from my phone, and hopefully improvements in the HR accuracy thru future firmware updates.

    FWIW … I also fall into the tech-focused geek category, but am also a triathlete/runner/cyclist.

    • Brent10

      Bob, I echo your comment.
      HR during exercise is frustrating but I like the device and will continue with it and look forward to future updates.

  4. Everyday Fella

    I love how it thought you were sleeping when you were at the opera! When I’m at the opera, I might as well be sleeping!

  5. ekutter

    I’ve been intrigued by this technology ever since the first Basis came out, canceling my pre-order on the original after too many delays. Unfortunately sounds like the rest of the industry is moving forward much quicker. For the non fitness focused smart watch, I suspect Apple is going to blow them out of the water. And for the fitness focused, this is a non starter. Disappointing.

  6. Will Percy

    Would it be fair to say that it’s worth waiting for the FitBit Charge HR?

    • Yup, definitely a possibility. The real question there will be how strong the accuracy is, and we won’t know that till sometime next year.

    • Julien

      Ray – what do you think of the Microsoft Band ? When running or biking I take my phone for emergencies or if I get lost. But I want to know if one of my 2 bosses calls (wife / work boss).
      I would get that from the bracelet if I read the specs well.

    • I’m mixed. I’ve got it on my queue to review at some point, but I’ve done a bunch of running with it (and day to day use).

      As a running GPS, aside from one bad GPS run (the first one), it’s actually been relatively solid. On the HR side, it’s been tricky, because while I can glance at it, there isn’t any way to export out the HR data yet. Thus, making that piece frustrating. You can just spit out a average HR value to two 3rd party apps, but not a true graph.

      On the size, it’s awkward, no doubt about it. It feels unfinished and unpolished. But, the display is brilliant. Well, at least until you apply water/rain/sweat – and then it’s useless (far worse than the Basis Peak display responsiveness).

    • Julien

      Thanks – seems like a typical Microsoft v1. Great ideas and concept and rough around the edges :) Will get better by v3.
      From looking at this space the concept i like the most is the one from Sony with the e-ink. e-ink is fantastic for watches

    • Eric

      I went from the Fitbit to the Basis simply because of the band. I am notoriously rough on my wearable tech (I’ve gone through 3 Nike Fuelbands and 2 Fitbits). I’ve had the Basis Peak for about 2 weeks, and even though I can see some of the flaws in the tracking, it’s no worse than the other products I have owned over the past few years. For a device that’s sub $200 (Amazon folks!), it does the job. Only time will tell if the Basis will last longer than my other devices. So far, I’m pleased.

  7. Richard Collins

    Thanks for this review DC. I was keenly observing the release of this product (along with the other activity trackers coming out like the Jaybird Reign) and am gutted that it’s not what we all hoped it would be. I guess this market will refine itself increasingly (especially once version 1 Apple Watch comes out) and late 2015 will be the time to really take note.

    I’m happy to continue using by FR 910XT, especially as I use Firstbeat so the HRV data and training effect technology is useful. The iPhone 5s step tracker in my pocket suffices for tracking the none exercising part of my day!

  8. Newt

    So basically its a Mio Link with a display, even though it doesn’t track HR as good as the Mio. Good review Ray.

    My ultimate watch
    – Suunto
    – Barometer, Temperature , altimeter
    – Gps
    – Optical HR
    – Sleep tracking
    – phone notifications
    – Battery life of atleast a week, preferably a month. Obviously with GPS off. If you wanted to turn on HR/GPS the battery life would take a hit but you could have the option to set the update interval for both.

    Just my thoughts. I hike alot and run/bike on the side. Id like a watch for everything instead of switching out. Atleast beable to go hiking without wearing my Ambit 2 and Mio Link together.

  9. Bart Bouse

    So, Mr. Bond is that a Rolex or Omega in that first picture. Well, no, it’s a plastic gps watch. Great pic Ray. Really!

    • Lance Finch

      The watch is actually metal, sadly it looks plastic. I loved the feel of it, but as with Ray’s device mine really lacked in the HR department so it went back to REI.

    • Heather

      Maybe that’s why Rei no longer has the Basis Peak listed for sale. Try searching for it on their website. It’s no longer there. You can’t make a profit on a product if everyone returns it because it doesn’t work, or at the very least, they are dissatisfied with it.

    • Adam

      It is also not available on Amazon anymore. I think everyone is waiting until mid-January to see if they deliver on some basic promises (notifications and heaven forbid an api) or return the devices to Amazon…

  10. Anton

    So disappointing that the exercise part is basically useless :( On top of that there are no features of a regular digital watch like stop watch, timer, alarm, world clock etc, which I don’t understand why they’ve left out. That would at least make it a perfectly fine watch to wear on those 23 hours of the day you are talking about. But now… meh…

  11. Chris@Polar

    Just came to give you kudos on that first photo.

  12. Néstor

    What a pity. I´m agree. We were expecting more.
    Thanks, Ray.

  13. Excellent review as always, Ray. One of these days we should collaborate on something :-)

    As you mentioned, various folks will have various results in the HR / optical aspects. For those who read your site and for their benefit I’ll point out that I had a really tough time with the Basis Peak, and it would rarely hold strong to a HR signal even during workout. Also, since 99% of my workouts are inside/indoors on a stationary bike, it NEVER sensed them. With no way to manually enter exercise mode, and it missing quite a bit of my HR readings, the accuracy was, as you pointed out, meh.

    It will be very interesting to compare this then to the Fitbit Surge. That device is $50 more but it will add GPS to the feature set. And where the Polar M400 offers GPS but requires an external HR sensor, the Surge could truly be the one-stop-shop you’re talking about. I’m on the “do want” list for that device for sure.

    Happy Holidays! – Ari

  14. Kevin Scott

    Thanks for the review, something I have been looking forward to as the Basis Peak isnt available in the UK yet.

    I had high hopes for the Peak, as I was disappointed by the the B1 despite being excellent whilst not exercising. Being a “data geek” the ability to measure skin temperature and moisture was an excellent idea to give a more accurate calorie count. But sadly, that inability to measure Heart rate whilst exercising (despite being better with the Peak) is rather disappointing.
    The inability to export data is also a bit disappointment.

    I hope you get a chance to review the Jawbone Up3. Despite not having an optical HR monitor, the extra sensors I think can give a better all around calorie burn. Plus I have a Mio Alpha I can tie to several different Apps when I am working out.

    Thanks again for the awesome Review!

    • Yup, I’ve got an UP3 on order. Also have the Jawbone Move that shipped out this morning (actually, for some reason it shipped double of my order, which is odd…perhaps someone at the DCR Open House next week will get one). The UP3 says it won’t ship/arrive though till December 22nd.

    • Conor Duffy

      It is available in the UK, but shipped from the US
      link to amazon.co.uk

    • Michele

      I’m really anxious to hear how well the UP3 works. It seems like since the sensors are on the bottom of the wrist, the hr tracking may work better than the optical. It will be between that and the Fitbit Charge HR for me.

  15. Oscar

    Also – STILL not available for international buyers. I know there are ways to circumvent this, but it would be nice to be able to get this without having to go through the rigmarole of shipping to a US address.

  16. Heather

    Ray,

    Thanks again for a realistic and comprehensive review. So is it safe to say it would be a watch geared towards individuals who want to use it for the other 23 hours a day when not actively working out/exercising? In your opinion does it offer any real advantage over say a Fitbit One for activity tracking and Fenix2 for working out/exercising?

    • Correct. For the other 23 hours of the day, it’s still rather neat. And it’s a much cleaner/nicer watch than the B1. As shown in the first photo, it can indeed look quite sharp – at least if properly applied to a James Bond-esque look.

      For activity tracking over the FitBit One, it’s mixed. It’s less awesome in that it doesn’t show distance (whereas the Fitbit One does), whereas on the flipside it shows HR and such throughout the day. For the Fenix from an working out standpoint, it’s in an entirely different universe.

    • Nathan

      I’ve had the B1 for several months and really like how it handles the ‘other 23 hours’. I just put my Garmin on my other wrist for runs. My favorite feature is not having to press any buttons to activate or de-activate the sleep tracking. All you have to do is wear it and forget it. The accuracy of it knowing when I fell asleep (vs just reading in bed) is really good. I don’t know if the newer fitbits are different, but I often forgot about pushing that button for sleep and I know most other trackers require that too.

      There’s a catch-22 with manually-activated sleep tracking. Do I hit the button 5-20 minutes before I actually doze off or do I try to remember to touch it the very minute I think I’m going to sleep? The first causes bad data and the second causes non-recorded sleeps. That’s a non-issue with the basis.

  17. Juro

    You mentioned Basis is the only company that does not support official data export… that’d be true for Fitbit, too, right? (I am using a workaround for Fitbit but that’s not straightforward).

    Or are you saying Basis does not even enable synchronization to other websites such as Myfitnesspal?

    • Fitbit actually offers data export through their Premium tier. But, even outside of that there’s 3rd party access as well for most commonplace functions to 3rd parties.

      Whereas Basis offers neither – no official export, nor any API/3rd party access at all. For a company made up for Silicon Valley types (I’ve been to the office, nice folks), it boggles my mind.

    • Adam

      There is third party tool which someone put together on github. You need to install PHP, CURL, and modify the config ini for it, but then you can export your Basis Peak data (the script was originally written for B1.)

      link to github.com <- basis data export branch

      The fact that this person was able to reverse engineer and do it shows that Basis is sitting on our data for a reason or is incredibly incompetent (to the tune of 2+ years.)

      However, the setup is probably outside most of the non-technical users ability to do.

      It does work and gives you the option of dumping the data in json, csv, or html format for each day. You then have to figure out how to import it elsewhere. A lot of machinations for something which should be in place thru Basis… I'll most likely take my data and run mid January when I send it back to Amazon…

    • Sheep

      Please do not write more of your “opinion” when is related to technical aspects as it is utterly incorrect. This guy written a curl call to the site where you view your data and the only way to retrieve it is to provide password and username. This can be done in 3 minutes in any language so please do not comment on such matters in the future, so people do not get confused.

    • Sheep

      This guy Adam.

  18. Ben Vanmarcke

    Great review. I’ve been using the Basis Peak for about two weeks now, and have previously been using the B1 (and a bunch of other devices). I guess my expectations for the Peak were a little high; the Peak looks nicer (not like a microwave), much better display (but still very dark), the heart rate function is an improvement from before but that’s about it. I’m a tech nerd and for that reason I love seeing ‘raw’ sensor data and the Basis products are the only ones that do that. But who else would like this device? I don’t know. It’s nowhere near to being a sports watch as it lacks many functions (like consistent HR, distance, a manual stopwatch / lap button, etc). It’s also a little complicated and expensive for just an activity monitor. Plus the battery life is relatively short, so it requires some attention to keep it charged so you get data.

    As a triathlete myself I do find it to fit a need that other devices don’t have, i.e. the heart rate function during the night. I’ve always found good correlations between resting heart rate and fitness / fatigue / sickness so this would be one of my main interests in the Basis.

    Like you said, it sits in an awkward space… if you’re a data nerd this is for you; if you want simplicity it totally isn’t. It’ll be interesting to see where the Fitbit Charge HR will end up – if it’s gonna go head to head with Garmin’s (multi)sports watches or be another thing that’s neither this nor that and ultimately doesn’t work for many people.

  19. Bryce

    I think I figured it out… You posed like James Bond, then went into the opera and fell asleep. Looking so dapper does require recovery.

  20. Martijn

    Hey Ray,

    thanks for the review, i’m also a little disappointed. Really hoped that the HR nailed it this time, but not. For the other 23 h, Is it accurate enough? So is the step counter accurate and the calories burned? Even as cycling.

    Thanks.

    • It’s generally pretty consistent HR-wise on those other 23 hours. And steps seems in-range and correct, and calories seem plausible (you never can quite know 100% on calories, you’ve somewhat gotta ensure it passes a plausibility test).

    • Martijn

      Thanks Ray for your quick respond. I’m not really a runner. I just want to have really solid and accurate insight in my daily activity but also a watch, where I just can see the time on it and date. I like the big screen, the simplicity of the watch and the big numbers on the screen.

      Do you recommend it for the use of this? Or you recommend another one? For just the daily activity with what watch or activity tracker can you compare the basis peak?

      Thanks again.

    • It depends. If you’re interested in that HR/Temp/Perspiration aspect, then yes, it’s not bad. But, if you’re more interested in steps, then most of the other activity trackers are better – since they show steps, have solid backend sites, etc…

    • Martijn

      Thanks Ray,

      what’s then the point of the HR/temp/perspiration aspect. I just not get it, why basis is focussing so much on those aspects. There must be a reason for that right? Why not just a solid activity tracker as all the others. A little bit frustrating this..

      Which one do you recommend at this moment for what I want to do with it? Also thinking of the polar m400, but then I miss the HR, don’t want a strap. I don’t like the mio fuse design, but have the most solid HR right?

      Difficult, need some help here haha

    • which makes it an overpriced activity tracker with no GPS and no smart features/notification. too bad.

  21. Ian S

    Surprised they didn’t try to squeeze an Ant+ chip in there to be able to broadcast on Ant. BT is a good step but always constrained by being singular connection. Disappointing the exercise tracking isn’t nailed down.

  22. cristina

    “Strangely, there’s no method to sync via PC or Mac, like the previous Basis units. I suspect though that virtually everyone who is interested in this device has a smartphone from the last few years so I can’t argue too much with that logic in this specific case.”

    Gotta disagree with you. My Droid4 is from 2012 – not NEW, but definitely from the last few years, and still highly capable. But noncompatible with this watch, as it doesn’t run KitKat.

  23. Conor Duffy

    A review I’d been waiting for. Thanks. I thought this was going to be the first activity tracker worth buying – i.e. with data you couldn’t get 15 years ago from a cheap disconnected pedometer.

    Switching from a Pebble to this would have involve conceding a lot of smartwatch functionality, but I would have done it if the review went better.

    I haven’t completely given up. I think I’ll keep an eye out for your updated article and hope that alongside the additional notification stuff, they :
    1. add distance metrics (how hard can that really be),
    2. improve their context switching latency (even if the 1st version required manual triggering)
    3. open up their data – both to gather all data in one place and because they’ll never think of the charts that everybody wants

  24. Colin

    How does the watch record step data if it doesn’t have an accelerator?

  25. Nigel K

    I’ve used the Basis B1 almost continuously for over a year. I’ve only had the Peak for less than a week, so I can’t comment in any detail on it. The one thing I would add to the discussion is that even though the original device was largely useless in tracking heart rate during exercise, I still found it to be an invaluable training aid because it allowed me to track my heart rate during sleep. I find I can get a pretty good sense of how well I’m recovering from prior workouts, how rested I am, and how ready I am to work hard the next day based on my overnight heart rate trace. While the overall average heart rate during the night’s sleep is somewhat useful in this regard, I get better feedback by looking at my initial heart rate during the first 1-2 hours I’m asleep and then seeing how this declines during the rest of the night. If I’m physically beaten up, then my heart rate tends to be on the high side initially and declines less than on other nights when I’m able to recover more. These kinds of data are much more helpful and predictive for me in adapting my training, than anything else I have tracked – including, most notably, heart rate variability. This alone is more than sufficient reason for me to recommend the Peak (or, indeed the B1, before it) to an athlete – even if you only wear it, while you’re sleeping there’s real potential to get very useful information from it that can guide your training. And no, I don’t work for Intel or Basis!
    Thanks for all your great work Ray – you’re a truly invaluable resource for the community!!

  26. Wahoo Mike

    Ray – been testing this as well over the past week. I can’t agree more.

    This is not a fitness watch in any way. Without distance and GPS mapping, it doesn’t help any person who works out any relevant information to see results and get better. Or share their data with any of the popular fitness sites.

    I thought this would be the ultimate activity tracker and fooled myself into believing so. BUT, the two limitations are not seeing my totals for the day on the device (eg steps) and not seeing my total sleep on the App (or on the website). It just gives me my bouts of sleep ( eg slept for 2 hours at 11pm, slept for 1:38 at 2am, slept for 38 minuts at 3:54 am), which is highly frustrating.

    I wanted this product to be awesome. It’s kinda good but needs work for it to be an awesome activity tracker. Bottom line: it will never be an awesome workout tracker.

    • Toma Hawk

      WM: If you want your distance and position and heartrate then you can stream your heartrate to your phone and capture it with your favorite fitness app like Strava/Mapmyrun etc during your workout.
      As far as getting distance without GPS, most trackers relying on using your height to guess your stride length to turn steps into distance – I’m not really a believer in this, as it is so far from accurate to be useless… steps, cadence, and time are more accurate…personal preference I guess.
      The watch does show your total steps for the day – Ray has a picture of it near the beginning of the review – swipe the heartrate screen up to get to it. There is also a screen that shows total steps run and total steps walked.
      Not sure what the best way is to see total sleep on the mobile app/website other than under Sleep insights – you could try the Get More Sleep habit – it might give you a daily total.

  27. Ben

    Firstly, thanks for another great review! One of the sort-of-alternatives I was considering is the Epson PS-100; I’ve read the first look, but wondering if you’re likely to be reviewing that any further? Very keen to understand how well it does on heart rate monitoring during exercise, plus exporting the data – if you or readers have any comments, appreciated!

    Many thanks!

    • I’ve got a unit here, but haven’t quite added that onto the wrist. I’m in a bit of a pickle in that I can pretty much only do two wrist-based activity trackers day to day at a time. Right now I’ve got the Withings Activite on one wrist, and I just picked up the Mio units a minute ago. So I’ll likely be doing that a bit over the next few days.

      (Side note: I am however working away on the Epson GPS units)

  28. will

    well, I guess I am in the minority. I have had the peak tracker for a week. I have tested the HR monitor with a Polar strap and my interpretation is a little different. Since I am on the treadmill, or eliptical, or what ever, I found that the HR function matches the Polar reading. Yes, on my tracing there are a few erroneous readings, but so what? I KNOW that 1 or 2 readings that are not consistent with the tracing are wrong, so I can replace my Polar strap with the watch, since when I look down at it, if it reads 150 bpm, and it reads it a few times over 10 seconds, then I know my heart is going 150 bpm. For me, this was about replacing the Heart Rate strap during a work out, and all the data it generates is neat. So for me, I am happy with it and would reccomend it to others who wanted one device to capture all the calories you burned in 24 hours, how many steps you took, how much rem sleep you had, etc…

  29. Jenn

    I was just shy of buying one of these and have been watching for your review. Thanks for saving me 200 bucks, and thanks for such a useful site. Back to the drawing board, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for your future reviews.

  30. steve

    The basis does not support all mobile platforms. They love apple but not windows or Motorola. The watch ships with no firmware installed you have to blue tooth the download from your mobile device. Again there is no mention which platforms it accepts. The setup menu tells you to down load the basis peak software onto your phone and hope it installs.
    Basis has no voice interaction with its customers. All answers to all questions can be found on line. They are to busy to talk to you, they will respond to emails but it will take time.

    • The Basis site is pretty clear that it’s only iOS and Android, and the site I linked to shows exactly which units.

      (And in case you’re referring to the review, I specify it within the tables towards the bottom).

  31. A. Non

    Thank you for the review, Ray. I also have been eagerly awaiting the Basis Peak but now find myself less than enthusiastic. One thing I don’t understand is how the Peak can fail to show your heart rate sometimes if it claims to be measuring your heart rate all the time? Are they lying about their ability to measure your heart rate all the time? Or is something else going on?

  32. Matt

    Be nice if it would export the metric data to a site such as training peaks. Thats ultimately what I am looking for for tracking sleep and resting HR and steps. If the basis did that I would be sold. Heres hoping fitbit do a good job with theres

  33. Treadmore

    I think their auto-activity recognition is pretty interesting – probably the one unique feature worth salvaging from this device. Were there any other goofs aside from it thinking you were sleeping through the opera? Did it think you were cycling or running at any time that you weren’t? It’s got to be leveraging the accelerometer and your HR for that, right?

    • Nope, for me that was the only time it false-triggered actually (of any type). Well, not only time, but only type (sleep). Mostly just TV and opera. Everything else was ‘normal’.

  34. Néstor

    Hi Treadmore. Everyday (with B1), in my motorcycle, it believes i´m in the bike. It´s the only thing I detected (1,5 years with Basis B1).

  35. Thanks for the review Ray. You hit the nail on the head re. how this device is mis-marketed.

    I’ve had the B1 for around 6 months now and I’m pretty happy with the calorie counts and sleep tracking. An interesting device indeed for the “other 23 hours” and I’ve validated the data using a variety of other methods. However, as an endurance athlete, long haul airline pilot, bio-hacker and general tech junkie, I find the inability to access the data frustrating. I’ve asked the company to provide metrics on things like sleep balance and sleep credit/debit, things easy to calculate and critical to a shift worker (and athlete), but they are not interested. Nor are they interested in 3rd party apps it seems. Instead we have a laughable web interface that uses a silly gaming philosophy to try to motivate me to walk more every day to burn more calories. Almost like the folks at Basis have no clue how to differentiate their device so instead they play catch up with the lowest common denominator. A real pity. I’ll stick with my Garmin for activity data, and keep hoping that Basis will eventually provide functional sleep data presentation, and/or 3rd party/API access.

  36. cc

    It’s not good looking and the functionality isn’t good. Do you ever feel like not bothering with reviews in this space until the apple watch comes out? (Serious ?)

  37. Michele

    This is disappointing, I was hoping the HR would be better. Looking forward to your review of the UP3 now. I would still use my Forerunner 610 for run tracking but would like something for the rest of the time. I don’t care about the smartwatch notifications.

  38. Ted Teague

    What do you think the prospects are that firmware updates can correct some of these issues like accuracy of exercise HR and calculating distance (I
    Don’t care about or want smartphone notifications)? And, second, what do you think the prospects are that Basis will actually implement those? Ray, thanks as always for your excellent reviews. I had my eye on this unit and had high hopes: so glad that I waited for your review.

  39. Bobv190

    Went for a 13-mile run today without my chest strap and just used my Peak to stream my HR to my iPhone 5s running the iSmoothrun app. For the most part, the HR tracked really well with just a few brief periods where it stopped tracking for a few seconds. I don’t know why it doesn’t work that well all the time. One common denominator is on the days it worked well, it was cold and I had on a long sleeved compression shirt that covered the watch and kept it from moving. I think it is that, plus any flexing of your wrist that throws it off.

    Again I don’t think it is that far away from working properly all the time during exercise, so I am hopeful Basis can tweak the firmware to better the accuracy.

  40. Thomas W

    Thinking about going with the Basis Peak as a daily activity tracker. As a triathlete, I rely on the Garmin 910 for swim/bike/run, but am looking for something to fill the other gaps (walking the dog, sleep, chasing around the 2 year old, weight lifting, foam rolling, trigger point, couch time surfing the boobtube or net, etc). Tracking HR seems to provide a bit more accurate calories burned, so that is why I’m looking at the Basis Peak over the Garmin VivoFit. I’m not hip on the idea of wearing a HR strap all day either. After the review, I’m confused on whether to go ahead or wait for one of the 2015 models. What do you think, Ray?

    • Hard to say. For the triathlete, I’d likely stay with the Garmin lineup. While there might some situations where all day HR tracking is going to get you close than a traditional activity tracker for daily calories, I suspect they’re incredibly close (outside of the actual fitness activity, which Basis clearly doesn’t do well anyway).

    • Thomas W

      Cool, thanks for the advice and info!

  41. People have mentioned the Peak says you are sleeping at times when you are not. That is of course due to teh Body IQ algorithm which you have no control over.

    For me this also enters my running. I am old and slow and when I went for a 55 minute run yesterday the Peak said I ran for 18 minutes, walked for 3, ran for 10, walked for 4, and ran for 17, and walked for 3. Besides deflating my ego, there was not 55 minute activity shown.

    The Peak is going back for this reason and others mentioned here.

  42. Nuno

    Interesting, how can it be that suunto and Polar have no android app, even several months after release of their top of the art watches and a start-up company have it, in addition of an more advanced activity tracker. Once in a while I think that I shouldn’t had bought my AMBIT 3 …

  43. Luis

    “It still doesn’t allow any official form of data export (the only company that doesn’t, after 2+ years)”
    Epson pulsense also doesn’t allow data export. It doesn’t even allow you to zoom in either giving you only vague data.

    • Well, the Pulsesense has only been in the market a few months. The Runsense does allow export of data (HR export won’t hit til early next year though). I don’t disagree that the Epson apps leave a lot on the table, but, at the same time, Basis has been holding export out as a carrot for 2 years since release, and a year prior to that pre-release.

  44. Brent10

    My Peak received a firmware update today (version 1.6.9.0). No obvious change.
    Hopefully, it is fixing and enhancing stuff behind the scenes.

    • Martijn

      I’m really curious if anything changed with this new firmware? Is it working better for example? Hope you will keep us up to date about your experience with the peak.

  45. Greg Hilton

    I still think/hope there is a new wave of smart watches to come in 2015 with HR and GPS, which then gives them a broader audience….

    I currently have a Garmin Fenix 1 and a Vivofit so hanging on for an “all in one” watch that looks good but can do HR, steps, GPS when running, skiing etc and looks good, with changeable faces (like a Moto 360 gen2)

    I can but hope :)

  46. Michael Ridenhour

    I’ve had my Peak for three days. Still have 50% battery left. My only concern is that it doesn’t keep the time at all. I reset with the set watch clock feature of the app, but within minutes it has fallen behind again. I have my Pebble on the other wrist, so its not that vital to me, anyway, but it is annoying. I also found that after a shower, I must take it off and dry my arm and the sensors or I get a 30 minute dead space on the graphs.
    But it is fun, until the next new thing comes out.

  47. I’ve been using the Fitbit Surge for the last week, which also has continuous heart-rate monitoring as you noted. I’ve been running and comparing the HR measured by the Surge to the Scosche Rhythm+ (which I bought on your recommendation, and which seems to work very well, thanks!). There seem to be some issues with the accuracy of heart-rate during activities, especially as heart-rate rises to the higher end. While it’s not widely available, it’s definitely unqualified release-level hardware. I paid the full list price, and there was no warning about missing or limited functions. After reading about some of the features of the Basis Peak, I was feeling mildly jealous about the bluetooth re-broadcast feature, which I would really appreciate on the Surge, as well as the sweat/galvanic skin response and skin temperature measurements, which would be useful for tracking mood throughout the day. Yet, it appears that while the the accuracy of the heart-rate measurements on the Surge are not perfect, they are much better than what you’re showing here with the Basis Peak. I get short bouts of low heart-rate, maybe a minute, but no noisy spikes like this. On the other hand, the Surge seems to have a problem recording short (real) spikes in HR from sprinting, so it could be that Fitbit is applying more aggressive smoothing to the time-series than Basis, and this smoothing is masking spikes that the Fitbit is recording. I dunno, but after looking at this data, and considering the lack of data export capabilities of the Basis Peak, and the superior website and PC/Mac sync ability, I’m inclined to keep the Fitbit. Hopefully they can add Bluetooth broadcast to a later firmware update, and address the issues with the high heart rate measurements.

    • BobV190

      I have had my Basis Peak for about three weeks and while the HR rate isn’t 100% accurate, I would say that it is accurate about 95% of the time. When just sitting at my desk at work, or at home watching TV, it seems to be very accurate with almost no interruptions. I have been using it as a replacement for my 4iiii Viiiiva chest strap while running for the past two weeks, streaming my HR to the iSmoothrun app on in my iPhone 5s, and again for the most part it is accurate. For whatever reason, it seems to completely lose my HR 2 or 3 times during a run, then picks it back up in about 15-30 seconds. But when it doesn’t lose the HR, the reading seems to be correct.

      Overall, I am very pleased with it … the sleep tracking is spot on, the other 23 hours (while not exercising) tracking is spot on, and the exercise HR tracking, while not 100% perfect is still usable in my opinion. I am hoping it can be improved over time with firmware releases.

  48. Aspirina

    I just started playing with the Peak today and I’m not sure if it’s normal or not but right now the Peak shows 6032 steps and the Vivosmart 9826. I put them yesterday night and been wearing them non stop so the difference is pretty big. Whats the best way to compare them? Same wrist or it’s ok in different ones?

    Thanks

  49. Ted Bradley

    Just wondering if anyone has any idea on when UK stock will be arriving? Amazon reckons January, just wondering if they’re being pessimistic or not – afaik none have arrived in the UK yet at all?

  50. Moyes

    Judging by this review and comments on here, is it fair to say that the peak is no where near the likes of Mio Fuse and Scosche Rhythm+ when it comes to tracking HR during a workout? Or are they in fact of the same (supposedly) poor standard as the peak?

  51. Have you had any experience with Basis customer service? I’ve had three faulty units (battery failure in the firmware I believe) and besides getting the same cut and paste responses, no luck here… I’m wondering if you had any luck?

  52. Aspirina

    hi Ray, I’ve been using the Peak for the last 6 days and I’m worried with the accuracy of the step counting. For the last 6 days I’ve been using a 920xt and the Peak, so far the differences are substantial on average around 30%
    For today the 920xt gives me 11779 steps and the Peak 7901. Could you comment on the accuracy of the Peak’s step counting?

    Thanks!

    • I found them roughly consistent, though, I’d agree that one of those is out of whack. If you have an iPhone 5S or higher, you can see what types of steps that would get (use could use Argus: link to cnet.com).

    • Aspirina

      Thanks I installed it and tried it today, weird results: Argus 16852, 920XT 15167 and Peak 9847…

      Damn

    • Heather Riley

      I have noticed with the Peak that it responds best to vertical motion to register step activity. I can walk around my kitchen and be looking down at the step counter on the watch and no steps are registering or very few. If I sit on my exercise ball and lightly bounce up and down, it registers every single bounce as a step and counts it as an activity. Frustrating! Almost always is the Peak is behind my Fitbit One. And the calorie burn is not over all very different. Only redeeming quality is the HR, most of the time, and the sleep metrics. That is sleep metrics for when I am actually sleeping. One day when I was watching TV quietly on the couch, Peak said I was in REM sleep for part of that time! What!

    • Brent N

      When I look down at my Peak while I’m walking I see it registering every step.
      The sleep metrics are impressive.

  53. Sean Murray

    My main interest in the Peak, and all fitness trackers for that reason, is to accurately estimate total calories burned each day. Right now I’m doing that with a Jawbone UP24 worn constantly and a Garmin 620 during runs. Data from my runs are imported into the Up app via Strava. Since the Peak constantly monitors heart rate, would I get a more accurate daily caloric burn count than I do with the Up24?

  54. formsofair

    Sean Murray, I am getting ridiculous calorie burns from the Peak – 600-1000 calories higher per day than a trusty old BodyMedia band I’m trying to phase out. I am overweight and out of shape (meaning highish heart rate even when sitting) – I suspect the algorithm is not designed for someone like me so ymmv. I opened a support ticket about this with Basis. The first response i got took a day or two, but after replying that their suggested fix did not help, i have heard nothing. It’s been a week now of silence. This is unfortunate, because as a tech geek, this product appeals with a lot of interesting data – i really want to like it! It is also quite stylish in silver/white, and I appreciate the gamified “habits” model as someone who needs a little kick in the pants to get moving. I’ll persevere with it for now as the heart rate and sleep monitoring is helpful and seems spot on, but I’m stumped about what to do for decent calorie tracking. I really hate wearing two bands, but my worn out BodyMedia band does give usable calorie tracking (so I’ll keep wearing it until it dies or Basis figures out this calorie problem I guess).

    • Mike K.

      Hey, I’m also phasing out my Bodymedia for another device (Bodymedia is going away in February). Did you find that the Basis Peak provides similar calorie expenditure data? If not, have you found another device that provides similar results for calories? Thanks in advance!

      Mike K.

  55. Michael Ridenhour

    formsofair, I have had a very helpful interchange with the Peak support staff. I bought a Peak, was very happy with it, but it didn’t keep time properly. It lost a few minutes every hour. I wrote to tech support and even though I did not purchase my Peak from their website, they sent a replacement, which works perfectly.
    I don’t know your circumstance, but they do respond and very fairly, I found.
    Keep writing and you will find a helpful and caring Peak support staff is there.

  56. Leo

    Hi Ray, I am looking for a watch to track my heart rate while sleeping and during the day which uses optical and not chest strap. I don’t need it to track heart rate for exercises (I have a Garmin for that). Calories, distance, etc are also not important to me. Do you think Basis Peak is a good choice, or is there a cheaper/better alternative?

    • Michael Ridenhour

      Leo, mine does a good job of tracking heart rate at night. The graphs are great! I have a tendency to nights sweats which I proved to my doctor. He said to take off a layer of bedding, I do not have a physical problem and stop worrying about it.
      Worked.
      I love it.

    • Leo

      To add on, I like the 3 days battery life and detailed sleep chart (information like REM, sleep score) of Basis Peak. Do you think Scosche Rhythm+, Mio Fuse or Mio Link will also be a good choice?
      Thanks.

  57. Karl Pfleger

    I wonder whether the Basis uses the HR sensor or the other sensors it has that most trackers don’t to help make its sleep categorization more accurate.

    This review didn’t cover the quality of the sleep tracking specifically vs. competitors, but other easy available pages (search for basis sleep accuracy) seem to agree that the Basis tracks sleep better than the other popular trackers. Last spring there was even a test wearing it while undergoing a gold-standard polysomnogram sleep study in a lab and the Basis did very well.

    With the Zeo gone, is the Basis Peak the best home sleep tracker now?

  58. David

    Despite of the “not perfect” review of the basis peak, I decided to buy it last Xmas and haven’t regret since then.

    I had 1 year ago a Vivofit and upgraded immediately to Vivosmart when it became available.

    Vivosmart is a wonderful device that served me very well but I have to admit i was seeking a bit more.

    Where the Peak excels the Vivosmart is:

    – Continuous HR monitoring
    – Automatic detection of activities (walking, biking, sleeping)
    – Better sleeping metrics

    Basis Peak is not perfect, at least, not yet. For me it still lacks the vibrating alarm. That is why i still carry the Vivosmart on the other wrist to keep waking up every morning.

    But i love to see my HR throughout the whole day, and mostly, my Resting Heart Rate.
    I was always curious to see how my heart behaves during the night and now I can.

    I’m sure with time the device/platform will get better, like everyone does. It’s the same i faced when i bought the Fenix2 last April, as well as the Vivosmart.
    With time bugs are being polished.

    Yesterday I checked HR monitoring during activity, I bike home and I really push very hard during my 7km commute. The Fenix2 normally shows me an average of 136bpm and Max of 175-180ish when going uphill.
    In 2 Traffic lights I can drop from 170 to 100 in 40-50secs.

    Well, yesterday it was very cold (1 degree Celsius) and tough to have the Peak uncovered but, while biking I managed to check the HR and the Peak did really weel against the Fenix2 and the Garmin standard strap.
    It matched most of the time the beat (+- 1-2 bpm).

    But, obviously it didn’t catch very well the quick changes in intensity, like for example those 2 stops I had due to traffic lights. In those situations, the speed in decreasing the HR is lower in the Peak, as well as the increase. It’s not a device for HRV (I wish!)

    But if you know that in advance and know what to expect, it will not dissapoint you.

    After 20 days of wearing it, I can confirm that I had very few drops of HR tracking throughout the 24h (just a handful during the day which don’t affect at all the value of a full 24h HR chart). During sleeping I don’t have any drops.

    As everybody already knows already, I can confirm that outside workouts HR works perfectly, matching my Garmin strap (checked with strap and vivosmart or strap and Fenix2).

    I wear the Peak tight but not super tight, only in one wrist as in my other wrist, it feels more tight (I’m not perfect ;) ).
    I charge it nearly everyday 15min during my morning shower (this way I give my wrist a rest).

    Hopefully soon i will be able to give away the Vivosmart, once we get the vibrating alarm.

    Unfortunately it will not replace my Fenix2 for swimming but, that i already knew.

    I don’t care much about notifications. I’m all day connected due to the nature of my work. And Android power user.

    I tried notifications in my Vivosmart, Samsung Gear Live, LG G watch and LG G watch R.

    At some point I disconnected all of them and not wear any Android watch anymore as it was a bit too much for me. I need time to disconnect.

    So, long story short, I’m really happy with the Basis Peak, no plans to return it and looking forward to seeing the platform improving.

    I would only replace it if anything better comes out. But I still need to see that coming.

  59. Mark P

    Ray using Basis sleep data in his sig?

  60. Fabian

    Hey Ray! Heard the Peak at CES had the smartphone notifications up and demo-ing. Did it look like Intel would continue to update the Basis line or instead focus on forging partnerships with other companies that will develop the devices using their own technology like the Curie Chip and did that make any waves? Thanks again for your detailed reviews. I’ve been enjoying my Peak for the other 23 hours of the day.

  61. Fabian

    Hey Ray! Heard the Peak at CES had the smartphone notifications up. Did it look like Intel would continue to update the Basis line or instead focus on their own technology like the Curie Chip and did that make any waves? Thanks again for your detailed reviews. I’ve been enjoying my Peak for the other 23 hours of the day.

  62. Fabian

    Hey Ray! Heard the Peak at CES had the smartphone notifications up. Did it look like Intel would continue to update the Basis line or instead focus on their own technology like the Curie Chip and did that make any waves? Thanks again for your detailed reviews.

  63. Denny S Arfans

    Hi Ray, I have been wearing basis B1 since about 6 months ago. It could read my HR in normal activity but when I do sport like playing badminton, i could not read the actual HR. it read less then the number my HR strap read. What about the peak? can it read correctly like HR strap? Thank you..

  64. Conor Duffy

    I see that both the firmware update for watch smarts and the data export (to csv) is out now. I’m looking forward to your extended review.
    Keep up the good work – it’s a great blog!

    • Greg

      Basis support suggests using calendar appointments as temporary alarm clock. So they are working on it, but for now we have a huge features and one workaround that were missing in Peak. Now the choice between this and the Surge seems more obvious.

    • David

      That workaround for the alarm could work but i wouldn’t trust it for waking up every morning.
      What if the Peak happens to disconnect from the phone?
      BT connectivity is not 100% reliable, it comes and goes. Peak does a good job of re-connecting to the phone but still, very risky (my experience is with Android).

      I do love my Peak but still wearing the Vivosmart exclusively for the alarm in the mornings until this feature is enabled.

  65. Jjohnson

    Hi! I have been using the Jawbone Up band for almost a year and recently decided to give the Peak Basis a try. I am finding the Basis is coming up with significantly less steps taken than the Jawbone. I wore them both all day and at the end of the day, the peak had around 4000 steps less. I can’t figure out why there is such a huge difference. Your thoughts on that?

  66. JJohnson

    Hi! I have been using the Jawbone Up for almost a year and decided to give the Basis a try. I am finding that the Basis is counting significantly less steps than the Jawbone. I wore them both for a full day and at the end of the day, the Basis had over 4000 less steps than the Jawbone. I can’t figure out why such a huge difference. Your thoughts on this? Thanks!

  67. Bill

    Have you seen this study on acivity tracker accuracy?
    link to acefitness.org

  68. Patrick Mountford

    Ray, great site! Have done 3 Ironman distance in the 2007 timeframe and am just getting back into half-Ironman distance and stumbled across your reviews, which are fantastic! One question, you indicated that it knows when you are running and riding, does this apply to both sports when on the treadmill and stationary bike?

    Thanks
    Pat

    • Not station I don’t think (I can’t remember trying), but running on a treadmill yes.

    • Patrick Mountford

      Thanks Ray, decided to pull the trigger and get one. My main goal is to measure my resting HR during the night, and to measure HR during the other non-training hours with something semi-fashionable! I come from having coached 13 years as a swim coach, so have a really good understanding of HR, zones and assessing over training and fatigue. This will definitely do the job, and more form the internal geek perspective!

      To be honest, not too concerned that it doesn’t do gps, as I’ve my garmin specific device for that, and actually think I read something somewhere on your blog (which I definitely agree with) about using the sport specific device when possible.

  69. Chip

    Any idea where I can buy the black Basis Peak in the US? It is not available anywhere, unless you’re willing to pony up $499 on Amazon or $1,500 on eBay! Is Basis/Intel having manufacturing problems with the device, or have they really produced a low volume and are now overwhelmed by the demand?

  70. I had the B1, and while I know Intel now owns the company, the lack of followthrough on promises re upgrades, and the abysmal quality of the device – the band was almost entirely gaffa tape and the battery life was down to under a day after less than two years – has made me wary of Basis. Also, this doesn’t look to be a significant improvement anyway.

    MS Band or ChargeHR for me, I think.

  71. Fredric Luthman

    As of this week my Basis Peak in combination with iPhone 6 on iOS 8.2 have begun behaving really well (in contrast to earlier). I suspect that 8.2 in combination with latest firmware have improved things.

    I don’t use notifications, so I can’t say if those have improved. The sleep tracking really is the best I’ve tried so far. In a perfect world one would be able to merge and delete segments for elimination of false positives. But sorting out tv-watching is tricky from early stages of sleep when you do not have EEG data.

    Pending Rays review of the Vivoactive I might actually keep using the Basis Peak 24/7 and put on my Garmin Swim or FR 305 for training sessions.

  72. malia

    Hi! I have been using the fitbit Up for almost a year and decided to purchase Basis Peak. I am finding that the Basis is counting significantly less steps than the Fitbit. I wore them both for a full day and at the end of the day, the Basis had over 4000 less steps than the fitbit. I can’t figure out why such a huge difference. Your thoughts on this? Thanks!

    • juice

      I’ve had several units, and the Basis B1 was the lowest reading of them all. (Although the Xiaomi fitness band is not far off it.)

  73. Cedric

    I’ve had the peak for just over a week and a half now and it’s been pretty spot on. The notifications work well but could still use some improvements – when you get a text it’s just chills there on your wrist for anyone to see for example (since it has a high visibility screen that’s not too difficult). Sometimes I get personal texts, sometimes I don’t like to call attention to my wrist too much. If I’m texting back and forth with someone and have my phone in my hand it continues going off for each text which is annoying.

    The rest of the notifications work great, the vibration is useful, the website is pretty neat. I’ll try the data export shortly.

    Heart rate, step count, body temp, sweat, all seem on point and don’t really have any gaps in coverage.

    Wish list would be a smart alarm (wake me in light sleep) and improvements in text notifications.

    The band is incredibly comfortable.

  74. FredricLuthman

    A very promising update by Basis to the Peak. Both Google Fit and iOS health integration. Added stop watch (a Much requested feature). Improved bt connectivity. Added basic geotagging of activities. Caloric sync with some apps.

    Glad I have stuck it out. Just got the Garmin Vivoactive in the mail today. The display really is very dim! I must say that I prefer the feel and fit of the Basis. I hope they continue improving both the app and firmware. I still prefer Garmin devices for training but Now that I can keep my step data in iOS health and / or Google Fit I can drop the activity tracking from the equation and focus on the training aspects of a new watch. I think there will be loads of apps which use the step data in health to do fun step challenges in the near future.

  75. John

    Are any of you concerned about the privacy issues associated with all the information that the Peak sends to the Basis website? One night of wearing the device and I got an ad from Luminesta because I did not sleep well. Has anyone else received unrequested ads and eMail?

    • FredricLuthman

      No, never in my three months or so of wearing the device 24/7. But it is an interesting question. Basis Peaks logs more data points of potentially sensitive health and activity information. Early on the was a snafu with Fitbit publishing activities Of a sensitive nature.

  76. Scott Grissom

    Ray, I know you’re busy reviewing the Apple Watch, Epix, FR225, and a slew of other watches but have you had a chance to look into the accuracy of the Basis Peak since the latest update came out? I know they said it included performance enhancements.

    • FredricLuthman

      I have a scosche rhytm+. My empirical data tells me that the Basis Peak is within a couple of beats of the Rhytm+ while running. Havent tried it while cycling yet. The Bluetooth Connectivity has improved with new firmware releases. It can stream the HR data to Endomondo, dont think it works with Runkeeper yet.

    • I might try and squeeze it in on a few runs over the next few days to see if things have improved.

    • Heather Riley

      That would be great. I almost returned mine to REI a week ago, but unboxed it and charged it up and put it back on. So far so good. I no longer drop hrate like I did all the time before. Sync with android also seems improved. Here’s hoping for better things to come. Sure looks better than fitbit surge!

    • link to mybasis.com
      One of the many changes:
      Improved heart rate detection for normal and active usage such as walking, running or biking

    • HD Stich

      Hi Ray,

      regarding the HR accuracy, did you find the time to test the Peak with the updated firmware?

      Regards,

      HD

  77. Néstor

    Interesting.

  78. smitty49

    can anyone else confirm improved HR consistency and accuracy since the updates? Thanks

  79. alan

    Has anyone reviewed this since the firmware update?
    It sounds like a very interesting product.

  80. David

    For me, the Basis Peak is one of the best Fitness devices i ever had. I can totally recommend it.
    The sleeping feature is amazing.
    The automatic activity detection is fantastic, it matches to the second.
    The new firmwares and mobile updates have made this watch just better over time.

    I only miss the vibrating alarm when waking up (only reason i still use the vivosmart) and swim detection.

  81. Alan Mushnick

    This is a great product. The sleep tracking is outstanding.
    It needs a band that has more elasticity. Something with the properties of the Scosche Rhythm+ band but that looks like a sports or dress watch band. Waterproof. Some elasticity so that it allows the optical heart rate sensor to stay close to the skin without squeezing my wrist too tightly.
    Is there a product like this out there?
    I am guessing that this would improve the accuracy of heart rate monitoring, too.
    I also wonder how it approximates REM sleep without a true EEG?

  82. Fred

    Hello,
    What is the best plae to order in europe?.

  83. Néstor

    Hi, Fred: It seems amazon.co.uk.

  84. alan

    how would I compare the heart rate tracking to a polar monitor? I can use polar beat. Is there a way to export the files?
    I think it is pretty close, with some lagging based, on running two things at once.

  85. Dom

    If some owner of the peak would be so kind to tell us how about last updates that promises these changes:

    New Features
    Addition of stopwatch feature. Learn more here.
    Improvements
    Changed Peak navigation to double tap to leave BodyIQ and leave Notifications
    Removed Manual Sync from the watch UI to simplify. Sync is automated but manual sync can still be done from the mobile app
    Improved heart rate detection for normal and active usage such as walking, running or biking
    Improved UI for Bluetooth connection status to indicate more clearly what action should be taken to fix the issue
    iOS notifications – added filtering for duplicate emails and increased stability
    Improved Firmware download speed
    Simplified the About screen
    Important Fixes
    Improved Bluetooth connection reliability
    Fixed some cases that could cause higher battery drain
    Daylight savings time bug fixed
    General optimizations and bug fixes

    Thanks!

  86. Alan

    I am trying to compare the heart rate function during exercise with my Polar H7 strap.
    I used the Basis and paired it to my iphone with Polar Beat. I used the H7 and paired it with my iPad mini.
    It seemed to be fairly close. But I would like to look at the heart rate curves in graphical form. It seems like only one of the workouts got to the Polar flow app.
    Any other ideas as to how I can compare these two?
    I like the Basis a lot for an activity and sleep tracker. I tend to use the H7 or older Polar stuff and my Polar a300 for swimming.

  87. alan

    I am not able to figure out why the Basis heart rate pairing with the Polar Beat app is so erratic?
    I disable all the other bluetooth light apps to be sure and it still won’t pair reliably.
    Any help is appreciated. I do see it pair with mapmyfitness if I try that.

  88. Sue St.Pierre

    Does anyone care that there is no illumination to read at night? Just wondering. I wore mine along with my Garmin to see which one I liked better and that was the deal breaker for me.

  89. FredricLuthman

    If you’re talking about the Peak there’s a back light. Activate it with swiping up from the lower right corner.

  90. alan

    I think this is a great product. I wear it. More accurate heart rate tracking during exercise would be the first improvement I would make. It looks ok as a watch, tracks steps accurately, is an amazing sleep tracker, and is way better than a fit bit or such.

  91. alan

    I like the device. The sleep tracking is probably the best of all these wrist wearables. But the Basis support is limited. The sleep score is a mystery. And it is impossible to logically figure out how they come up with the number.

  92. Moyes

    Did anyone try to connect the Peak to another watch like eg a Polar V800 or a Suunto Ambit3? It would be interesting to know if you could use this combination instead of a HR strap.

  93. Stan

    I’d really like to see an update to this review. A lot of things seems to have happened since the Peak was released in terms of firmware, features and reliability.
    Or is it only garmin products that get that kind of extra love?

    • There’s only so much time in the day, and on my wrists. Generally speaking (across the board), I prioritize new products over updates. The queue I have for new products is massive (from all brands, most not Garmin), so it’s hard to justify spending a bunch of time on products that don’t get daily requests.

      If you look at my posts that I update, it’s pretty rare that Garmin products actually get updates either, these days.

      There’s been folks here in the comments that have updated their unit – so I’d definitely look to the community for some feedback on if the changes are worthwhile.

      To be clear – I’d love to be able to update everything, but unfortunately there’s only one of me.

  94. Kristi

    HI DC – has there been any additions through firmware on this watch? Curious if HR is better.

    I am comparing Polar HRA360
    TomTOM HR
    garmin Viofit HR
    Basis Peak

    Each one has things I like and don’t like. I have a pebble now which is good for what I have used but I really want a HR monitor on a watch that received notifications from my iphone for calendar alerts ect.
    I’ve read your assessments on all of them – it is still hard to choose, any recommendations on one of these?
    (HR I need 24/7 – dx with low BP and want to track it)

  95. Joanne

    After a month’s use, two thumbs up here for the Peak as a solid no-hassle watch for the casual athlete/active individual. It’s comfortable, attractive, and easy to read as a watch, easy to use for tracking activities and sleep because it’s automatic, and its data is informative without being overwhelming.

    We looked into the Peak after seeing it recommended by Consumer Reports. So far it’s been most useful for monitoring heartrate during workouts and runs and for getting an overall sense of activity through the day. Perfect for a lower-tech type person who doesn’t want reams of data, only a clear, well lighted screen and some motivating and helpful general feedback.

  96. T

    I’ve been using the Peak now for a year – and it has changed the way I think about activity. I have been an athlete my entire life, and as I get older, my brain (thankfully) hasn’t declined at the same rate as my body. Using an activity tracker helps me to reframe how I feel about the activity that I’ve completed throughout the day – rather than just did I run enough miles or beat my body up enough.

    The Peak provides a lot of data, most of which I paid attention to in the first 6 months – and now have less use for it. Things like perspiration amount and body temperature have been helpful when explaining to my doctor that I’m having night sweats even though all tests say I’m not in any of the stages of menopause yet. The updates with the notifications has been a huge help for me – I don’t tend to have my phone next to me all day, so the range of blue-tooth helps me to get calls when I’ve left my phone on silent.

    I wish that there was an option to start a stationary activity like being on the rowing machine or a stationary bike – maybe in the future. Also, my wrists are very small, and in order to get an accurate HR reading, during a workout I have to have the watch on the very last notch – so, this is not an ideal watch for small women (I’m 5’9″, 155 lbs). During the day, my HR is less accurate as I loosen the watch for comfort.

    Your review of this watch and others helped me jump on the activity tracker bandwagon, and I’m really happy with my choice. I’m thinking about switching to a Garmin or Apple watch in the year – looking forward to your AW in the coming year.

  97. Dennis Watkins

    I would love to hear a refreshed update now that they addressed some of your concerns with the last software update.

  98. Fredric Luthman

    Unfortunately Basis seems to have issues with a limited number of Basis Peak watches.

    link to mybasis.com

    At this point they are offering a refund to all customers (affected or not). This does not bode well I think for the watch. I love my Peak and I’ve been wearing it 24/7 for well over a year. I have been having some issues with it though and I will return it to the company.

    When they sort out the problems I will be first in line to buy another, but I can’t help feeling like the Peak will not return. It really would be too bad because through continuous improvements it’s a really solid performer today, with features not seen on any other device today (at least to my knowledge).

    What will I use in the mean time? Don’t know. I think I will just use my iPhone for step tracking and my Pebble Classic for watch duty and notifications. I’m too entrenched in Apple-country to go to a Fitbit and loose health kit data.

  99. Paul Allen

    Hi Ray,

    Which device do you recommend for someone hoping to track HR 24/7 including RHR. During exercise not important. Got a Pebble Time + iPhone 6+/iSmoothrun for other things.

    • Alan

      I had the Basis Peak, and I really liked it, but now I have Apple Watch. The Basis Peak was excellent for 24/7 heart rate and resting heart rate. But Intel pulled it from the market and is refunding everyone.
      some issues heating up.
      You might consider Polar A360 or a Garmin Vivoactive HR

  100. Nick

    Now that the Peak is officially being fully discontinued/recalled and support/connectivity are both ending, I need a suggestion for a replacement…

    I like the 24×7 monitoring, knowing when an activity is starting without me doing anything, optical HRM, and watch format. I don’t need 500 apps, but the notifications were a nice feature. The sleep monitoring was nice but not required for a replacement.

    Any thoughts to help me narrow it down?

    Thanks

    • RoamingNick

      Same name, same question – how to replace this excellent device. Though for me the must-have is the sleep function. To my knowledge only Basis (and more specifically, the Body IQ) allows for clinical-grade sleep tracking – though I’d love to be proven wrong. Thoughts?

    • Alan

      you should look at this
      link to arstechnica.com

      I don’t own any stock or have any financial interest
      Alan

  101. Alan

    This looks like the successor to the now defunct Basis.
    link to arstechnica.com

    I wonder what Apple has up their sleeve, or on their wrist as a health device?
    Also I wonder how it measures respiratory rate?

  102. TMS

    It’s a bummer that this has been recalled – I really like this watch. They are providing full refunds – check your email.

  103. Alan

    I hope Ray looks at the Philips Health watch

  104. It may be good to inform Intel discontinue the product and doing a safety recall due to some overheating issue.