Basis Peak Review – Intel’s Best Fitness Tracker
It is no secret that when you run a small tech company, you pray for the day when a tech giant like Intel, Apple or Microsoft show interest in what you do.
And that was the case with Basis, a small tech startup that got Intel so excited with their different vision of an activity tracker, the Basis B1, that bought the whole company, as an addition to its own wearable tech department.
Recognised as the first activity tracker with a built-in HR sensor, the Basis B1 helped pave the way for the new generation of trackers we talked about in some previous articles. The “medical fitness” trackers.
After the B1, Basis launched a few monts ago another tracker, called Basis Peak. The gadget comes with a new 24/7 HR optical sensor and a few extra nifty features, such as smartphone notifications and music control.
It is one of my favourite trackers to date and after almost four months of testing, I can say I know everything about the Basis Peak. Intel promotes the device as an “ultimate fitness and sleep tracker” and now I know why. Ready? Let’s start the review.
Basis Peak Review – Design And Specs
The Basis Peak is available in two colours: matte all-black and light silver. For our review, I had the black model with the red-black rubber strap.
The rubber texture feels nice on the wrist. However, the beauty of the bracelet is somehow diluted by the Peak’s square face. As Intel’s wearable chief, Mike Bell, said about the Basis Peak: “It might look better from the back.” I don’t think he was joking.
You won’t find any buttons on the Peak’s case as all the navigation happens via a 1.25-inch monochrome display. The screen is very responsive and also protected by a Gorilla Glass v3. Excellent touchscreen sensitivity when you swipe through your stats.
I also like that the new Peak’s overall proportions, over the old Basis B1, have been reduced, from an embarrassing thickness to a more standard size.
Flipping the Peak on its back, we can see where all the magic happens. There is a group of “metal contacts”, arranged around a central bank of sensors, with the scope of measuring your heart rate, skin temperature, sweat, the number of steps taken, and much, much more.
So yes, design wise, the Peak is light, and the bracelet feels right on your wrist. Peak’s thick but soft rubber strap provides a comfortable, wearable “all-day, every-day” experience.
Basis Peak Review – Interface
But the strength of the Peak lies on the inside. The device can capture a huge amount of data, with the watch face displaying just the essentials stats without overwhelming the user.
By default, you have the standard clock on the tracker’s screen. A quick tap on the glass toggles the date on and off. Swipe to the left to access to your heart rate. Swipe down again – from the same screen – to see your total number of steps for the day, and the calories you have burned. It is that easy!
Basis Peak Review – Activity Tracking
First up, the Basis Peak lacks GPS, which helps Basis Peak achieve a reduced bulkiness and extend the battery life. In my case, it did not bother me at all as I have used the GPS on my mobile when needed.
However, if you are a professional runner, the lack of GPS won’t go unnoticed. I have found a few potential issues if you like. Basis Peak’s comes with impressive sensors but the way they function is quite annoying at times.
As an example, if you stop running at the traffic lights for a minute you’ll realise that your entire running session is over too. Start moving again and boom – a new running session begins. While this is scientifically accurate, it makes the recorded data very hard to use.
Otherwise, as a step and calorie tracker, the Basis Peak is a must have. When you start walking, it detects your movements and records each burst of energy apart, making this high-end device ideal for those who use walking as their only type of exercise.
Basis Peak Review – Heart Monitor
The Basis Peak offers 24/7 HR tracking, but I found the optical pulse sensor unreliable on some occasions. Tested against a Garmin chest strap, the Basis was almost always on the beat, but, sometimes was off by 5 BPM.
I do not think it is a major downside for the average user but then again, if you are a pro runner you might find this unacceptable. Also, I could not find any indication on how to set or track HR zones either, but feel free to update me in the comments below if I am wrong.
One final problem, the tracker, tends to move around the wrist and if you tighten it up too much, the HR sensor stops recording your data. Basis is aware of the problem and admits that the Peak is not “optimised for high-intensity interval workouts”.
On the positive side, the Peak is water-resistant for up to 5 ATM, making the tracker a suitable companion for scuba diving, up to 40 metres deep.
Basis Peak Review – Sleep Tracking
The sleep tracking was one of the strongest selling points in the first Basis tracker and, with Peak, it remains one of the most accurate sleep trackers we have tested so far.
The watch can monitor three levels of sleep. Deep sleep, light and REM and also mark every move and turn you make while sleeping.
As a downside, the Basis is not displaying the resting HR as one of its sleep metrics. It is a very useful sign in telling you if you are overtraining. However, it appears that the company is aware of the issue and working on a new firmware update.
Basis Peak Review – Software And App
All the data captured by the Basis Peak tracker syncs to your smartphone, via a dedicated app. The app is free to download and compatible with both, Android and iOS mobile owners. You can also access your data via a web browser, thanks, to the online portal provided by Basis.
Whichever option you choose, it is easy to read the graphics which are detailing your activity during the day. You can also further investigate your walks or runs if needed.
By default, the functions detail on your heart rate, steps taken and calories burnt, but you can toggle on in the app to check your skin’s temperature and even the sweat rate.
Basis Peak Review – Notifications
Despite being launched as a simple fitness tracker, Basis decided to add smartphone notification with its last update for Peak. The tracker can now notify you of any missed calls, emails, SMS and upcoming events from your calendar.
I’d like to say that the Peak’s notification system is still in a sort of early phase. It needs some work, a bit of polishing. Notifications pop up for 10 seconds before disappearing, and there’s no option available to reread the messages. Still, let’s not forget the upcoming firmware, I am sure all these little bugs are going to be ironed out.
Basis Peak Review – Coaching and habits
Another one of my favourites features of the Peak tracker is the achievement-based gamification element. You start at level 0 and you can add just a “habit” or two. Habit as in a task to complete.
Similar Read: Fitbit Blaze Review
Some of the “habits” available are: wear the Peak for 12 hours a day. Or, take 3.000 steps in the evening. Wake up at a particular time, three days a week. Burn a specific number of kilocalories in an hour or a day, and much more.
If you succeed with the “habits”, your achievements over a week are rewarded back to you as points. With these points, you can unlock further “habits” and keep playing while improving your fitness level.
The challenges tend to get harder as you keep completing them, by increasing the number of days needed to achieve the habit. Overall, I find this as an excellent feature that I would like to see implemented in all fitness trackers.
Basis Peak Review – Battery Life
Thanks to its power-efficient monochrome LCD display, the Basis Peak has one of the best battery life I have seen in a fitness tracker. In my tests, the Peak lasted between four and five days before needed to be charged again.
Once charging is required, the device charges very fast. It needs just an hour and a half to charge back to full.
Basis Peak Review – Verdict
With so many sensors packed into a far more attractive device than the Microsoft Band 2, the Basis Peak is nothing short of impressive. Starting with how it feels on the wrist, from all the smart watches and fitness trackers I have tried so far, the Basis Peak seems the most comfortable.
I also think that it looks good. The strap at least. Then, I can sleep with it. I can wear it in the shower or go swimming with it. It has an easy-to-read screen and the battery life is good enough to last for at least five days.
But, at $170 it might seem like a lot to pay, considering that the new Fitbit Blaze is just $10 more. Still, I consider the Basis Peak an excellent device for tracking your daily habits and, most important, a device that helps you change your habits for the better.
Basis Peak Review – Gallery
- Lots of sensors
- Smartphone notifications
- Unreliable HR
- Bulky design
- No GPS