The Huawei Talkband B1 is a fitness tracker watch. We've seen a dozen or more of these in the couple of months. This one though promises to be a bit different.
It's also a bit weird. The Talkband B1 is a fitness tracker that doubles as a Bluetooth earpiece. We took a closeer look to see what it's made of at MWC 2014.
From far away, and even up close, the Huawei Talkband B1 looks a lot like any other fitness tracker. It appears similar to the Sony Smartband, the LG LifeBand Touch, and the grandaddy of them all the Fitbit Flex.
It's a hard plastic 'core' that fits into a rubbery band you wear around your wrist. There's a monochrome display on the core part that tells you the time and how many steps you've made in the day. In these respects, the Huawei Talkband B1 is much like the competition.
The silvery blob is a security tag, not part of the Talkband B1
Look a little closer, though, and you'll realise the Talkband B1 is a real oddball. The brain isn't just a fitness tracker, it's also a Bluetooth hands-free device.
There's even an earpiece on one end, so when it's removed from the rubbery holster it's ready to be jammed into your ear to take calls. As with other fitness trackers, the Huawei Talkband B1 connects to your phone using Bluetooth 4.1, and taking calls is another fairly obvious way to extend this relationship.
It's ingenious in this one respect. But I'm not sure it'll work out in real life – it could be a marriage made in hell. The issue - I didn't find removing the core earpiece easier than removing a phone from a pocket. It's trickier if anything, and you still have the exercise of fitting the earpiece in your lug hole before taking any calls.
I'm not convinced it'll end up being a convenience, especially when you need to have your phone with you for the Bluetooth headset part of the Talkband B1 to be of any use. Bluetooth's operational range is about 10 metres, not 10 miles. However, we need to try the band out in real life to see if this is actually just an issue of getting used to the device.
Having to fit in the earpiece part also makes the Talkband B1 a bit chunkier than most of its rivals, although not to a dramatic extent. Huawei also says it is planning on adding some features to the Talkband before it launches at retail. The way you charge the band is pretty clever too - on the end of the rubber strap is a USB port you can plug into a computer. It uses a small 90mAh battery so shouldn't take an age to charge.
The Huawei Talkband B1 manages to separate itself from the competition by adding Bluetooth headset capabilties to a phone. It does so without adding masses of bulk. However, it might not have the convenience factor it needs, given to use it as a headset you need to remove it from a snug rubbery home on your wrist.
Next, read our Sony Smartband preview