Under Armour’s UA Band looks like a boring fitness tracker, but the software is killer

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Under Armour's UA Band

Earlier this month, Under Armour unveiled its first ever wristband wearable at CES 2016 alongside a collection of other tracking devices. It was a big and telling move for the company which traditionally sets its sights on sportswear and sneakers; it’s putting a ton of resources and dollars into building tech intended to compete with the Fitbits of the world.

While this is no easy task — the wearable industry is already saturated with fitness trackers that promise similar experiences — the company has teamed up with tech powerhouse HTC to create the UA Band, a $180 fitness tracker splashed with Under Armour’s signature black and red colors.

Under Armour's UA Band

We’ve known for a little more than a year now that Under Armour was working with HTC on a GPS-enabled device called Grip. While that product has been mysteriously shelved, the partnership instead has given us the UA Band. It’s possible to get the UA Band as a part of Under Armour’s new HealthBox package ($400), which (in addition to the wristband tracker) comes with a chest strap ($80) and smart scale ($180) — all devices are sold separately, too. But together, the set intends to help consumers see a deeper look at their overall quantified health. It also aims to get fitness enthusiasts — but not necessarily those with tracking experience — on the fitness monitoring bandwagon.

While there’s a lot to like about the UA Band, it’s not exactly reinventing the fitness tracking wheel, especially when it comes to hardware. In most ways, it’s more of the same of what we’ve seen before. But the real standout is the app that works alongside of it. Let’s take a closer look at it all.

UnderArmour-HealthBox-Kit

On the surface, the UA Band doesn’t look like much — it’s a bit clunky when it comes to design; in fact, I had to wear the device on the inside of my wrist in order to take advantage of heart-rate tracking features. The front of the band, where the display lives, is curved in nature but the hard surface (coupled by the softer clasped band) secures it around the wrist in an awkward way, if you so choose to wear it with the touchscreen display facing up. In some ways, it reminds me of the discontinued Nike+ Fuelband.

So I decided to break the rules and wear it on the inside (the company says there’s no wrong way to wear one) — but I never understand why some devices are designed to sit that way (why wouldn’t you want to look at the screen as you would a traditional watch?) Considering the tracker’s display showcases information horizontally, rather than vertically, it does make it more challenging to wear a device like this as you would a watch

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