I’ve used a lot of fitness bands and smart wearables in the last couple of years. And mostly they’ve all been improvements on the versions that came before. Wristbands are a competitive market and they’re going to become even more so, with smartwatches slugging it out with dedicated fitness wearables and vice versa. So the existence of the Razer Nabu X is something of a mystery to me.
Razer’s Nabu X is being targeted at gamers, and there’s actually a dedicated app that allows PC gamers specifically to exchange their Steam user name details when two Nabu X bands are in close proximity – such as during a handshake. But it’s also got fitness and sleep tracking functions but it doesn’t really seem like Razer’s heart was in it when they made this particular piece of tech.
The Nabu X, appearance-wise, owes a lot to the FitBit Flex. The Nabu X consists of the tracking unit, nestled inside a silicon wrist-strap that kinda-has-to live on your right arm. Just because people shake hands with their right and that’s how you exchange Steam, Facebook or Twitter contact details.
There’s a proprietary charging port inside the base of the solid tracker which bears a passing resemblance to those figure eight power cables that we’re all so familiar with. The tracker is coloured with Razer’s electric green but for the most part, it’s all black. The wristband closes together with the same arrangement as the Flex but the top section of the band is composed of little lines. Textured, to be sure, but all manner of stuff gets stuck in those little grooves.
Master Of None
As I’ve mentioned, the Nabu X will exchange all sorts of contact info. But you’re going to have to jump through hoops to get that right. First you need to install the basic setup app, which is the same for Android and iOS. Register for a Razer account, sync the band, set your alarm and how you want it to activate sleep mode and you’re off.
Off to the next app, that is. With both Android and iOS, you need to download another app if you want the Nabu X to actually track your steps, calories and sleep patterns, as well as your distance covered for the day and this has to be installed through the main Utilities app. Once you’ve done that…
You’re still not done. If you’re looking to confer your Steam info upon another gamer, you’ll have to get yet another app and set that up as well. And you’re restricted to Android for that, it’s not available on iOS. At all. There’s a fourth Android app that I didn’t even look at for this review, because things were getting a bit much at this point. But the Nabu X does notifications as well.
Notifications are arranged by having the wristband vibrate and three LEDs lighting up in various colours and configurations. A double-tap will show how close to your daily fitness target you are. Three green lights – you’re done. Two – halfway. One – you lazy bugger. But there are also light setups for incoming calls, messages and social media updates, as well as for when you’re out of range of your smartphone.
But, perhaps not so unusually, Razer’s wristwear doesn’t seem to work. I don’t mean that literally, though it was prone to just not tracking for a while during this review, but in a more metaphorical sense. Using the FitBit Flex I was constantly checking the app for updates and using something with an actual display like Garmin’s Vivofit, there was a tangible sense that I had to move around more. There’s a target to meet. With the Nabu X, none of that existed. It just sort of sat there on my wrist, almost invisible, until I remembered a few days later that I was supposed to be checking my progress. There’s no sense of urgency and the design and the constant disconnections and app juggling are a definite contributing factor in that.
Razer’s Nabu X absolutely works, for the most part. But there just seems to be no compelling reason to own one, especially if you already have something like this in your tech pile. In its favour the battery life is fantastic, lasting at least a week per charge, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a very underwhelming and occasionally tedious experience to use one of these. If you’re a Razer fan and have the mouse, speakers and keyboard then you might want to get this to complete the set but if you’re after a solid fitness tracker, there are better options out there.