There was a time when a smartphone was considered the ultimate “wearable” because it went everywhere you did and was always accessible. But then the fatigue of having to pull the phone out for every time a call came in or a text or a tweet or….it got to be unbearable, not to menton awkward at times and even dangerous (don’t let them see that new phone) or problematic (like when it was raining). So Bluetooth earbuds became the second “wearable” but obviously that was limiting. So time for stage three, where the wearable actually is easy to use because it’s even more accessible than a phone — as on your wrist. But no, not some smartphone that piles up too many functions, but the Uno Noteband which can basically display any text that the phone can receive: emails, Facebook, tweets, reminders, Google Fit, even Apple Health and others. And since the Uno is a “band” that can fit around your wrist, it’s in a good place for quick glances that will do the job without turning you into a gauche philistine who’s always pulling his phone out.
There’s a number of things that the Uno has going for it so that it can accomplish these text-based tasks (FYI – no video screen, no microphone, no need. Uno’s screen is OLED based. What that means is that, unlike an LCD, the screen is many times more visible in bright light (Sunlight too) and has a better contrast when it comes to displaying text. Obviously in those situations where the light isn’t overwhelming, the Uno is also.
Uno may be always “on” but it doesn’t scream out the fact. Say a text comes through — Joe from downtown says that Happy Hour at your favorite bar is going on and your company is required. You’ll know this because the Uno will start doing a vibration dance on your wrist. But because it has good manners (remember we talked about that earlier), if you don’t tap the screen you won’t be seeing anything.
But perhaps the best thing about Uno isn’t in how the tech is working, but in how the text is being read. As in quickly which makes the whole glancing at the wrist thing more doable. Uno employs the Spritz reading compression technology — it’s a fancy way of saying that the way the words are displayed are such that you are able to view and comprehend them faster than back in the “normal” world. Sure you have to get used to it but it doesn’t take long and certainly isn’t a deal-breaker. Give it a couple of tries and before you know it you’ll be speeding through the text like nobody’s business. And the reason that this is good is because once you get the hand of it, reading the text on the Uno will fly by at about 3X the speed it would have otherwise (xxx translates this as reading about 600 words a minute). And no, you can’t get this Spritz somewhere else, it’s specific to the Uno and the first time wearable employed.
If this was all that Uno did, it would still be worth the $99 retail. But it’s not. As thin and lightweight as the Uno is, there’s more than enough room for adding to the Bluetooth and other electronics a 6-axis accelerometer (probably about as small as one of these can get). In this case the Uno is transmitting back to the phone (via the Bluetooth, natch) health info which covers such things as how many steps you’re taking, the calories expended and how well you’re sleeping (the old toss and Turing routine). Uno is built with a highly advanced and accurate fitness component for use with with fitness programs where compatibility is on, being Google Fit and Apple Health.
Uno requires that it has a charge and that you’re wearing it (oh, you have to turn it on too). It pairs with the smartphone in the expected manner and comes in an all-black version and is to be available later on in more colors (the rainbow effect). The clasp is magnetic with steel so it fits easily and stays in place, while the wristband itself is of a simple silicon that can handle sweat and bad weather — being water resistant, not able to go into the shower though.
Using the Uno Noteband is both a boring and fun experience: boring because you pretty much forget that it’s there since it’s much lighter than a smart watch and doesn’t call attention to itself. But when some text comes in, that’s when it becomes fun because tapping it to then see the message pops up the text one word after another so that what is going on with the band’s screen makes you feel kind of special — it’s certainly not what everybody else is doing and is reminiscent of the days when you first flipped open your cell like Captain Kirk to make a call, knowing that everyone had their eyes on you.