We review the Mi Band 3 Activity Tracker by Xiaomi

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The Mi Band 3 by Xiaomi

The Mi Band has been among first class performer since the day the gen 1 was released back in 2014. It was basic for a sleep- and fitness tracker but with a very long battery life and low price. Since then Xiaomi has added f an OLED screen, heart-rate scanner, app notifications and much more.

The latest reincarnation the Mi Band 3 is by far the best yet, adding an improved display, waterproofing and a large-capacity battery, as well as being able to read messages onscreen and track certain activities.

It’s still very well priced, currently available from Smartechnologies.co.uk for around £36.99, but even at this price nothing in our analysis comes close in terms of value for money.

So what does it do?

The Mi Band 3 is a fitness band with the ability to track exercise for example steps taken, distance moved, calories burned. It also monitors your sleeping patterns (deep, light and total sleep) along with heart rate (automatic or manual), over a 24 hour period, week or month. You can track fitness data in its dedicated Fitness app and the Mi Band 3 can also use Google Fit.

One of its biggest pluses apart from the price; is incredibly battery life. Though your exact mileage will vary dependent on how many notifications you receive from the110mAh battery inside. But never the less it’s a great improvement on the original 70mAh afforded the version 2, The new battery can easily last 20 days before needing a recharge. And when it does need to recharge, you can get it back up to 100 percent in just a little over an hour.

Navigation is straight forward, requiring simple swipes up, down, left and right to enter and browse the menus. A single large button can be used to return you to the main screen or select an option, such as the heart-rate scan. Whereas before it was able to count only your steps, the Mi Band 3 can now accurately differentiate between walking or running outdoors as opposed to using a treadmill or cycling, and during these activities you can configure the band to vibrate if your heart rate goes over a specified level, or if you start to run slower than you’d like.

For activities that don’t fall into these groups, such as jump rope or sit-ups, you can ‘tag’ the behaviour so that when you are later tracking progress you can understand what you were doing at that time

One popular activity not counted for here is swimming, and that’s something we hope will be resolved in a later generation. Though the Mi Band 3 won’t track your strokes, it can be worn in the swimming pool, bath or shower. Where its predecessor met IP67 waterproofing specifications, the third-gen Xiaomi fitness band builds on this with 5 ATM.

The new Mi Band also has some smart-watch-type functionality, and it’s now much easier to activate the screen by lifting your wrist than with the awkward twisting action required by past generations.

The Mi Band 3 shows you at a glance the time and date, the weather forecast, incoming messages, emails, phone calls and other notifications. The larger 0.78in OLED screen; up from the previous models 0.42in allows you to read the full message, or if it’s an email the sender and subject line.

It’s always been easy to locate the Mi Band via the app on your phone, but new in this version is the ability to find your phone via the band. Select the option on your wrist and an alarm will sound on the phone, even in silent mode.

You can set target notifications, idle alerts, alarms and event reminders, and the Mi Band 3 can offer smart analysis on your sleep cycles. There’s also a Do Not Disturb mode.

So how does it really stack up?

It’s incredible what’s on offer for such a great price, so it feels a little wrong to pick faults with it. But here we go;

The Mi Band’s has a silicon band, making it easily adjustable to the size of your wrist anywhere between 155 and 216mm. The new band adopts the same design as the hypoallergenic wristband we’ve seen on the previous versions, which means we have the same issues. While it holds the tracker snugly when new, over time we expect the band to deteriorate the same way the earlier versions did. You must take the tracker out of the band to charge it which is fine. But each time you remove it to charge, you loosen the band’s grip on the tracker.

It is possible to buy replacement bands for the Mi Band 3, and these will be available in black, orange or blue.

The tracker itself is bigger than before, which admittedly means you’re more likely to notice if it falls out its band, but it also causes it to feel more bulky on your wrist. Don’t get us wrong, this is still a much slimmer and lighter alternative to a full smartwatch, and it still weighs an incredibly light 20g – 9g of which is the tracker itself and 11g the band.

The LCD is not only larger but also brighter,  but we still found the super glossy surface made it difficult to read in direct sunlight. It also picked up fluff and dust from places we didn’t even know fluff and dust existed, so we were constantly wiping it clean.

For users in China, which is obviously the Mi Band 3’s home marketplace, the larger screen allows for more information on the display. Unfortunately for UK users much of this naturally comes in the form of Chinese characters.

Though you can work out what’s going on even without understanding the language thanks to the accompanying icons, there is no way to switch this off. It seems almost petty of us to criticise it just for this, but in our review targeting an English speaking audience we thought it worth mentioning.

One way in which the Mi Band 3 cannot compare to the likes of Fitbit is with regards to competitive analysis and sharing between friends

Xiaomi Mi Band 3: Specs

  • Pedometer and sleep tracker
  • 0.78in OLED touchscreen
  • 24.7cm wristband, wearable length 155-216mm
  • Waterproof to 5ATM
  • heart-rate scanner
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • 110mAh battery (20-day life)
  • 20g (11g band, 9g tracker)
  • compatible with Android 4.4+/iOS 9.0+

Smartech on Mice

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Wired or Wireless

Whether or not you should get a wireless mouse is really down to your own preference. With a wireless mouse, you won’t run the risk of getting tangled in your cord, but you do run the risk of running out of batteries at an inopportune time.

Some wireless mice come with charging docks so you don’t have worry about buying those AAA, although you do still need to remember to put the mouse in the dock or station. Other mice may come with an on/off switch to preserve power; as with the docking station, this is only useful if you remember to switch it off when you’re done using it.

When it comes to those wireless receivers, some come with receivers that sit flush with the USB port. Others come with larger wireless receivers that stick out a few inches from the port. As you can guess, you typically pay a higher price for the smaller neater receiver and easy to control mouse could be your best buy, if you’re a frequent traveller

With a wired mouse, you won’t have to worry about batteries or receivers because it will draw power from your USB port. The downside of that, however, is that you’re quite literally tethered to your computer. You can only move as far away as the cord is long.

Laser or Optical

Mice operate by tracking in “dots per inch”  DPI. An optical mouse can track between 400 and 800 DPI, while a laser mouse can generally track more than 2,000 DPI. Don’t let the higher DPI numbers fool you, however. Everyday use won’t require such precise tracking and will get by just fine with an optical mouse. (Some even find the extra accuracy annoying.) Gamers and graphic designers, however, often welcome the additional sensitivity.

Ergonomics

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of any computer peripheral is its ease of use, and when it comes to mice, comfort is king. Ergonomics in mice are important because they can help prevent repetitive stress injuries. However, ergonomics is not a one-size-fits-all feature, and just because a manufacturer claims its device is ergonomic doesn’t make it so.

Unfortunately, the only way to know whether a mouse is comfortable is to use it for an extended period of time, and most mice in the store are boxed up pretty tightly. As with all computer peripherals, research your device before purchasing it. If the mouse won’t be used for extended periods of time, you can let aesthetics weigh more heavily in your decision if you’d like. Graphic designers, PC gamers and other long-term users, however, should stick with what’s comfortable, not what’s pretty.

 

Full-Sized or Travel-Sized

This category is exactly what it sounds like. Although there is no universal sizing among manufacturers, many mice come in two different sizes: full or travel. Even if you never plan to remove your mouse from its home, travel mice can often be more comfortable for people with smaller hands. Likewise, a road warrior may want to stick with a full-sized device because ill-fitting mice can be uncomfortable.

 

Programmable Buttons

Everyone knows about the left- and right-click buttons, as well as the scroll wheel in the middle. But many mice also come with additional buttons that are typically located on the side of the device.

These can be programmed for specific functions, such as the “Back” button on your Internet browser. If you consistently work in the same programs, these can be extremely useful, and they’re typically easy to set up.

Whatever you choose; make sure the mouse you purchase is comfortable in the hand.