Huawei's first foray into the world of wearables is a strange beast indeed when compared to what else is on the market. The TalkBand B1, which we first saw back at MWC 2014 in February, is nominally a wrist-based fitness tracker that connects to your phone. However, rather than just displaying call information, the B1 actually functions as Bluetooth earpiece -- a rather novel concept.
The TalkBand B1 is on sale in Australia right now for AU$179, for €99 in UK and Europe, and it's $166 in the US.
The B1 bears a solid resemblance to the FitBit family or even the Sony SmartBand. It's essentially a plastic wristband that houses a core unit which is what does the walking and sleep tracking.
Where it differs from the others, is that when core device is popped out of the band, it reveals itself to be a fully-featured Bluetooth earpiece.
The band itself is made of hypo-allergenic materials and it's both sweat and UV resistant in order to prevent discolouration. The whole of the TalkBand is rated IP57 for dust and water resistance -- which means it can handle being in a metre of water for up to 30 mins. While you could possibly take it swimming if you really wanted to, we'd be more confident in declaring it shower-proof as much as anything else.
There are only two buttons on the B1: one on the side that's the power and interface switch for the device and one on the band that ejects the earpiece when you need to use it.
The earpiece component has a slightly curved 1.4-inch OLED screen. It's non-touch and basic in the extreme but the OLED nature means it's easy to see in daylight. The default is for the screen to be blank. Click the button on the side and you'll get the time and battery gauge. Keep clicking and you'll cycle through steps, calories, and sleep before heading back to time. Of course, it'll display caller data when you've got an incoming call.
The earpiece is a little bigger than most other Bluetooth headsets, but they don't need to include screens. The 95mAh battery has, according to Huawei, a 6-day battery life, although extensive call time is going to eat into that.
Speaking of battery, the TalkBand gets some serious points for avoiding using a proprietary charging cable or dock. With the earpiece in the band, you simply flip down the end of the strap to reveal a USB charging system - just plug it into any USB port and you're off.
While I can't say I was a fan of the "curacao blue" colour, the B1 was mostly pretty comfortable to wear and certainly felt quite securely attached. However, lefties might want to have a play before purchasing as the button placement and screen orientation on the B1 seems best suited for it to be worn on the right hand.
The TalkBand App
In terms of the companion app for the TalkBand, Huawei seems to have embarked on a strict policy of KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Initially you'll set up your gender, age, height, and weight, which is how your calorie burn is calculated.
The default interface is about as basic as it gets, showing your steps and sleep for the day. Tap on either of those and you can drill down for an hour-by-hour breakdown over the day. Or, you can compare your sleep and steps across a week or month.
By the standards of, say, the Jawbone, it's a very simplistic rundown, but I found it to be fairly accurate, with a few caveats I'll get to in a moment.