Razer Nabu X Smartband Review
What we think
The Razer Nabu X is one of the most affordable fitness trackers on the market, and is a bold step for the high end gaming company to make, stepping outside of their comfort zone. However, to call it a fitness tracker wouldn’t be very accurate, it is more of a notification wristband with some fitness features thrown in.
- Easy to use clasp
- Customisable notifications
- Picks up dirt
- No screen
- Limited battery
The Nabu X is well built and nice to look at. It comprises of a small, rectangular piece of tech held in a hypoallergenic silicone band.
The band is fairly thin and innocuous, and seems specifically designed to not get in your way. It sits close to the wrist, and has enough notches for the clasp to connect to that it can be secured comfortably at any level. If you have tiny wrists though, you may find yourself with a lot of strap left over. There are three colour options for the band (white, black, green) but because it doesn’t seem possible to buy the band by itself without the tracker, it makes me wonder what the point in it being removable is.
Annoyingly, the rubbery band picks up lint and dust so well it seems like it was designed to. The device will get covered in bits of fluff almost immediately. Cleaning it off isn’t too difficult, but the stuff will come right back before you know it.
The ‘face’ of the band holds three LEDs in a line, which act as a metre to indicate how close to your fitness goals you are, and indicate which notifications are coming through on your phone.
It has to be charged via a rather short USB cable, and it has a special unique charging port meaning you can’t use any other, more universal charge, which is annoying and a bit of a step back in today’s market, although it isn’t the only band to deviate from universal ports such as micro USB.
The Nabu X is water resistant, so you don’t have to worry about taking a shower with it on, or going out in the rain. But bathing or swimming with it on will more than likely break it.
In order to connect the smartband to your phone, you need to download the app and connect with Bluetooth.
Oddly, two applications have to be downloaded: Nabu Fitness and Nabu X Utility. The Utility app is used to change the settings for the band, while the fitness app seems to be more to do with connecting the band to the phone.
I get the feeling that this is because the Nabu X is the second version of the band, preceded as it is by the original Nabu 1.0, and the second tracker has extra, or different, needs that the app couldn’t support. This could be rectified in the future by simple software updates though.
Overall, the app is easy to use, it has the basics of what you’d expect a fitness tracker app to have. It lists steps, calories, distance and sleep data. However, it isn’t very in-depth and truly is basic, reflecting the price of the band itself.
You can use it to set goals, which can be tracked on the LEDs on the notification panel.
Notifications and LEDs
The set of three LEDs can each individually light up either green, red or blue, shining through the rubber of the band.
When tapped, they light up indicating your progress towards the goals you’ve set (one light means less than 33% while two lights indicate less than 66% of the way there. All three lights flashing three colours means 100% has been hit, shown off with a celebratory light show.)
As well as a goal tracker, the LEDs work to indicate notifications. When you get a message or a notification, through a myriad of apps like Facebook and Twitter, or just texts and phonecalls, the LEDs light up in a pattern you can edit in the app.
Furthermore, you can select from a variety of vibration patterns similar to Morse code, and this, combined with the lights will identify each type of notification so it isn’t necessary to check your phone to see which it is.
Performance and Use
Overall, this relatively cheap smartband performs as a relatively cheap smartband; you pay for what you get. Sometimes the steps aren’t calculated very well, and I couldn’t gather any meaningful data from the sleep tracker.
The battery was really disappointing. I assumed that the lack of OLED screen, as the Nabu 1.0 and Nabu 2.0 have, would mean the battery would last. But even when not in use, the battery drained down over the course of two days.
The chances of the band registering a tap was also pretty slim. I’d find myself tapping at my wrist over and over trying to get it to respond. Hopefully this is a firmware issue that could be edited to have the sensitivity cranked up. The online FAQ says that you need to ensure that the face of the band is kept as level as possible while double tapping.
The Nabu X has a Handshake system, which is pretty gimmicky, and not very practical. It lets the smartband send an instant message from one wearer to another on Twitter and Facebook when they shake hands, assuming both are wearing one, sharing their contact details automatically. This seems a bit buggy, and although is a nice idea, this kind of feature will only be useful if everyone wore one and it became a social norm. Until wearable tech is more accepted, and even integral, to everyday life, this kind of feature isn’t great. But hats off to Razer for including it and giving it a trial.
The Nabu X can be used with a device running iOS7 and higher, or Android 4.3 and higher.
Use for a gamer
Razer are known for their premium gaming products, so it stands to reason that the customers most likely to buy from the company will be gamers. With that in mind, the Nabu X isn’t likely to get in the way when gaming on a keyboard, and especially not when using a console controller.
But is it useful? The device will stop people having to check their phones to see what kind of notification they have received, but the lack of screen means that they cannot view what the notification is, nor make any form of interaction with it without taking their phone out their pocket.
However, while the vibration and the lights on the wrist might be very distracting for some, possibly putting people off while gaming, I didn’t find it too distracting and it means you can identify what app is contacting you, and make the decision as to whether it is worth pausing the game to check your phone.
In terms of value, the Nabu X is very good. You can pick it up for about £30, but some places charge more, so make sure you shop around to get the best deal. You pay for what you get, and although the device isn’t stellar and didn’t blow me away, the price reflects this, so I think it is perfectly priced.
I have mixed feelings towards the Nabu X. I don’t think it is a good fitness tracker, although the notification system is quite nice. A screen, as with the Razer Nabu 1.0 and 2.0 would greatly improve it, but then part of the point of the X seems to be to try something different to these other smartbands.
Furthermore, the price is perfect. If it was over charged, I’d expect a lot more, but it is an honest, cheap and cheerful product that doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t. It is just a shame it picks up dust so easily.