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Razer Nabu Review


What is the Razer Nabu?

The Razer Nabu is a fitness tracker and smartwatch all in one. Think of it as a Nike Fuelband SE with some of the smartphone companion abilities of the Samsung Galaxy Gear or the Pebble made by a company best known for games accessories. Typically ridiculous name aside, the wrist worn device actually has some interesting features the American company hopes will take gamifying your entire day to the next level.

Razer Nabu: Design

More wristband than smartwatch, the Nabu clearly takes some inspiration from the Fuelband with its soft touch rubberized finish and colourful interior. It also features a built-in USB charging port just like the Fuelband so you don’t need to carry around an extra charger with Razer saying you should get around seven to ten days of battery life.

The one we had a look at wasn’t in the best of conditions but there was enough in the slim profile and minimalist look to suggest it’ll be nice to wear all day. It’s water and rain resistant so you’ll be able to take it in the shower and withstand a downpour when you are out for a run.

The feature that sets it apart from similar devices are the dual OLED displays. The smaller one sits on the outside of the band with the larger screen that’s visible when you flip your wrist. The Nabu will be available in black and white models so whether you want to keep the tracking low-key or match it up with your brightly hued iPhone, you have a couple of options.

Razer Nabu wearable on wrist displaying a notification.Razer Nabu smartband on wrist displaying time and date.

Razer Nabu – Features

The built-in accelerometer means the Nabu can track distance travelled, steps taken, calories burnt and packs an altimeter to track how many stairs you’ve climbed to burn off that big lunch. It also offers sleep tracking like the Fitbit Flex, Jawbone Up and the new Nike Fuelband SE to monitor the quality and duration of your pillow time.

That’s all pretty standard affair until you turn your attention to the two screens and that’s where things begin to get more interesting. Pairing with an iPhone or Android smartphone app over Bluetooth LE, the Nabu can receive notifications for text messages, incoming calls, emails and even social networking updates from the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The notification accompanied by a gentle vibration will appear on the small screen that Razer is calling the ‘Public screen’ displaying an icon to help identify the nature of the notification. When you turn your wrist to look at the bigger ‘Private’ screen you can get more detailed information to see who is trying to call you or read a text message in full.

Razer Nabu smartband worn on a person's wrist.Close-up of a Razer Nabu smartband on a wrist.

Gesture support means you can program certain actions to respond to notifications in a particular way like dismissing calls simply by shaking your wrist or snapping your fingers to activate Sleep mode. The Nabu will also harness the GPS powers of your smartphone to display turn-by-turn directions and have iBeacon support introduced in iOS 7 so users can get targeted offers when they arrive in certain locations.

Razer rounds off a strong features list with its ‘proprietary band-to-band communication technology’ which essentially works like Nintendo’s StreetPass for the 3DS and will let you exchange information with other Nabu users nearby simply by shaking hands or giving a high-five. This could be used to trade Facebook account details, to start following someone on Twitter or even a way to play augmented reality games.

Built on an open development platform, the Nabu is available for third-party app developers to find ways to embrace the technology. Instant messaging service WeChat is set to be one of the first to support the device allowing users to share information that can be displayed on the dual screens.

Razer Nabu smartband on illuminated display stand.Razer Nabu smartband glowing on a stand.
First impressions

The Razer Nabu promises a whole lot more than what current smart bands can do but our only concern is that Razer has a track record of not always delivering on some of its most interesting and innovative ideas in recent years. On this occasion it looks as if the Nabu will launch, hopefully in 2014 with developer kits becoming available in the coming months costing just $50.

If Razer can make a design that’s as stylish as the Fuelband or the Fitbit Force, gain the support from app developers and keep the price well under $100 which is the aim, the Nabu could really be a wearable game-changer.

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