I first saw the Star.21 briefly at this year's Computex in Taipei, but my attention was mostly taken by the range of e-ink accessories that Oaxis had on display.
Oaxis, it turns out, is crowd-funding the Star.21 on Pozible, with -- at the time of writing -- over 300 percent of its goal achieved with nine days left to go.
That's actually 396,000 Yuan -- roughly $65,000, AU$70,000, or £38,000. At the moment, a pledge of around $32 -- AU$35 or 20 quid -- will get you the Star.21, although Oaxis thinks it'll sell for around $95 (AU$102, £57) when it lands in retail.
In terms of its 'philosophy', if you will, the Star.21 has a quite different approach to other fitness bands. It's designed to work around a 21-day cycle -- for the first three days the band learns about your habits while you wear it. Then, it sets you a bunch of goals for sleep, steps and calorie consumption, and works on constantly reminding you about the goals.
The idea is that after 21 days, you've learned new fitness habits -- as Oaxis says "the novelty wears off, but the habit remains".
The design is also a bit different to the usual -- a multifaceted plastic front plate hides 21 LEDs which use patterns to tell you how far along you are with steps and calories, as well as telling you the time.
I've had an early version of the band and the companion Lifebalanz app for a few days now. The joy of using a pre-release sample meant that there were initially some difficulties with setup, but all that was fixed by downloading a newer version of the app -- currently iOS, with Android coming for launch.
The gem-like design looks a little odd on my man-sized wrist, but I've actually become quite fond of the display for the time and updates.
I haven't been using it long enough to get a real sense of how the promise of the gamification of fitness pans out, but the app is a lot more detailed and polished than I had initially expected. (There are a few translation issues with the English instructions here and there, but it remains quite understandable.)
While I haven't got a full sense of the Star.21 in terms of its 21 day cycle, what I have seen is pretty encouraging, especially given the low cost of the device. Add in a silent alarm function, a choice of colours, and a claimed 15 day battery life, and the package looks pretty good at first glance.
At the very least, I'm happy to see a fitness device that doesn't want to let you take phone calls or read emails -- I've slowly come to the conclusion that, for me at least, I like my exercise tech to be dedicated, not a jack of all trades.
I'll update this First Take when I've had some more time to explore the progression of the Star.21's fitness cycle.