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LYNWO M6 Smart Bracelet

As usual, you can watch the video review or read the full, detailed review below.

https://youtu.be/xALu-jTFvyo


Banggood.com sent me a sample of the LYNWO M6 Smart Bracelet for review.  It's a small, lightweight fitness tracker band similar to FitBit and other popular trackers.  For this review, I borrowed my wife's FitBit Flex tracker so I could compare them. 

Fitness trackers have become quite popular as a way to help encourage people to get up and be more active, but now that the market is crowded, manufacturers need to add features to make their product really stand out.  The LYNWO M6 really shines here when it comes to the amount of features you get for your money.  The FitBit Flex was originally about US $90 when it first came out a few years ago.  It's still selling for over $50, even though it's just a pedometer with an app.  Meanwhile this M6 band is a pedometer, heart rate monitor, sleep monitor, blood pressure monitor, wrist watch, smartphone notification repeater, phone finder, and has a sharp OLED screen and an app, all for way less than the FitBit.  As of August 9, 2017, Banggood has it listed for US $29.99. https://www.banggood.com/LYNWO-M6-Blood-Pressure-Dynamic-Heart-Rate-Sport-Smart-Bracelet-Wristband-for-Samsung-S8-Xiaomi-6-p-1158335.html  At that price, you get one black strap and one color-stripe band of your choice.

There isn't much in the box, but there doesn't need to be, either.  It just has the 2 straps, the tracker itself, and an instruction booklet.  The instructions are in English and Chinese, and the English actually isn't too bad.  You don't really need the instructions though, since there's only one button, and the app is pretty good.  


I wore the two trackers on the same wrist for a couple days to see how their numbers compared.  When looking at the two bands, they're almost the same size and weight, though the LYNWO M6 is slightly thicker.  The screen dominates the front of the Lynwo, while the "screen" on the FitBit (which consists of five white LEDs) is just a little strip.  To make the FitBit show your progress towards your step count goal, you have to firmly tap it twice.  This will light up one or more LEDs to show how close you are to your goal.  The LYNWO M6 uses a capacitive touch sensor so you don't have to use any force to activate it.  It also uses its G-sensor to activate the screen, so that when you raise your hand, it automatically shows the time for a few seconds without touching anything.  You can lightly touch the sensor to wake up the band and change modes.  Each time you tap it, it changes to the next screen.  It starts with the time/date/battery, then step counter, the approximate distance you've walked, number of calories burned, blood pressure (pause to have it take a reading), heart rate (again, pause to take a reading), how long you slept last night, change screen orientation, find your phone, or turn off the band.  Meanwhile, the FitBit Flex has 5 little LEDs that are by comparison, completely worthless.  The FitBit only gives detailed info in the FitBit app. With the LYNWO M6, you don't need to open the app at all except to see graphs/charts/trends.  All the info you'd usually want to quickly check is easily readable right on the band itself.



At the end of each day, the two bands were within a few steps of each other (ie: 8376 vs 8420), so the accuracy is about the same.  The LYNWO was more comfortable, because its strap and the backside of the device is shaped differently, and because of that, it didn't pull the hairs on my wrist and annoy me.  The loop on the end of the LYNWO band keeps the loose end from moving side to side.  Since the FitBit doesn't have that loop, the loose end kept shifting, and then slightly pinching my arm hair between the band, and then when I moved, it would pull that hair.  

As for comfort when wet - after mowing the yard and getting sweaty, the skin under the LYNWO dried faster because it doesn't have a pocket to hold moisture like the FitBit. However, when I later washed my hands and then removed the bands to wipe off any remaining sweat and grass clippings, I found that a few drops of water had gotten into the little LED/sensor area on the back of the Lynwo - inside the lens. I left it on my desk and it dried out after a few hours. Several days later, my kindergarten-aged son was playing with it and the little lens covering the LEDs on the backside fell off, and it was easy to see that they simply left a gap in the adhesive, so it didn't seal and didn't hold the lens on.  I reattached the lens with a little bit of anaerobic gasket maker and the band seems to work fine for now, though there was some corrosion on the center sensor and LEDs from the water that had gotten inside, which means the sensor in my sample may quit working in the future.  I have contacted Banggood and they're sending a replacement, but the deadline to submit this review arrived before the replacement did, so I have to submit something.  

I've ordered LOTS of things from Banggood over the years, ranging from a racing quadcopter down to inexpensive nuts & bolts.  If there's ever a problem, they're always quick to respond and work something out - whether that's tech support, a refund, or sending replacement items.  So far this hasn't been any different.


It's worth noting that the Banggood product listing says this is rated IP67, which means it's OK to submerge it up to a meter deep in water.  Yet when I told them water got in my review unit while simply washing my hands, they said it's not fully waterproof - only splash-proof.  I suggested they should change the product listing to reflect that - IP64 means splash-proof.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_Code

Ever since I started carrying a cell phone back around 1999 or 2000, I haven't worn a regular wristwatch.  That was mostly because it got in the way while working inside computers or cars, but also because the phone has a clock on it.  I had forgotten how convenient it is to have the time right there on my wrist, without having to take my phone out of my pocket to check.  Another bonus is that text messages (SMS), phone calls, and other app notifications (such as facebook, twitter, whatsapp, and a few others) show up on the screen of the LYNWO M6 as they come in, so you can decide whether you need to answer them right away without digging out your phone.  It can also forward all other app notifications that it doesn't specifically know about, but this was a bit problematic for me. I kept getting notifications on the band for "xx:you have a new message" (the "xx" isn't a generic thing i wrote - it actually had the letter x twice) but when I checked the phone, there were no messages or notifications.  I never did find out where it was coming from.  In addition, the Llama automatic profiles app I use would continuously notify on the band when it switched cell towers (which all cell phones do constantly, in the background), so that got old quick.  Turning off the "all other apps" switch in the H Band app solved the problem for me.  You may not have these issues, but they're worth noting.  

Another related feature is the phone finder.  Switch to that mode on the band (looks like a magnifying glass over a smartphone) and hold your finger on the touch sensor, and your phone will play a sound to help you locate it.  This will only work if your phone is close enough for bluetooth to link up and send the command, so only about 33 feet or 10m at most. 

If you want to check your heart rate or blood pressure, you can do it right on the band.  Touch the sensor to switch to the mode you want, then relax your arm just like you would if someone was using a traditional BP cuff, or had a stethescope on your wrist.  You may notice the green light on the backside turn on and flicker some as it takes the reading.  BP takes a little longer, and the band will vibrate when it's done taking the reading.  HR will show up after a few seconds, then continue updating the screen every few seconds as your HR naturally flutcuates.  I compared the readings of the LYNWO M6 to our digital blood pressure cuff from CVS, and was surprised how close the numbers were.  I did learn that the band needs to be snug against your wrist to get a good reading of either BP or HR. If the band is loose, both will appear to be elevated.  I tried starting the BP cuff and the LYNWO band at the same time, and the LYNWO band finished in about half the time of the traditional cuff, which uses air pressure to take a reading.  

They seem to be actively working on the app as well, because over the few weeks I've had the band, there have been a few updates to the app which said it brought new features.  When first setting up the app, it asks for your height and weight just like the FitBit app, but during setup, the H Band app for the LYNWO band only accepts metric numbers - KG and CM.  I guessed since I didn't feel like converting the numbers in my head, but it turns out there's a switch for metric and imperial units in the settings, after you have finished signing into the app.  So if you prefer miles and pounds instead of KM and KG, fear not! You're covered.  Some of the translations in the app are a little odd, such as "Outsit Setting" for the reminder to get up and move around, or "Turn the wrist" for the option to turn on the screen when you raise your hand to check the time.  They aren't horrible, but can make you scratch your head for a moment.  Other than that, the app feels nicely polished, with slick animations and easy to read graphs and charts. 

Yet another feature I like (only available through the app) is the one that reminds you to get up and move around when you've been sitting still more than a specified period of time.  Since I'm an IT guy, I'm at my desk all day, so reminders like that are helpful.  The app has some great graphs and charts so you can geek out as much or as little as you like while tracking your activity, sleep, or heart rate.  It can link to WeRun for competition with friends.  The app can also check for new versions and update the firmware on the band itself, to keep it current with the latest fixes and new features.

Screen rotation: I found that the default horizontal (long-ways) screen had lousy fonts.  The numbers are too close together so you can't read them very easily.  Switching to vertical orientation (so it looks the right way on your wrist) has much better fonts on everything except the date.  If they'd used the same font for the date as they did on the horizontal view, it would be just about perfect.  As it is, September 3rd shows up as "0903" with no space or dash to separate the month and day, so it's not immediately legible.  In horizontal mode, it shows up as "09-03" so it's much more obvious and easier to read.  Unfortunately, the screen is not easily visible outside in the sun.  You will have to shade the screen to be able to see it at all when you're outside unless it's completely overcast, or it's night.  On the flip side - since the screen isn't super-bright, that means it won't blow your eyes out if you turn it on in the middle of the night, and it probably also makes the battery last even longer.

Battery life has been great - I get 6 or 7 days on a single charge.  It only takes about an hour and a half to charge via regular USB port.  And that's another thing where the LYNWO M6 easily beats the FitBit - charging.  With the FitBit, you have to keep track of a tiny proprietary charger cable, remove a little pill-sized cartridge from the wristband, snap it into the cable, and then it begins charging.  With the M6, you simply slide the wristband off the top of the body of the tracker, and plug the tracker itself into a USB port.  No proprietary cables to lose, and you can charge just about anywhere if needed.

One odd behavior I noticed was that some mornings when I woke up and tried to check the time, the screen on the band was showing "CLEAR?" with the word "NO" flashing below it.  I fiddled around with it, and apparently if you switch modes to show steps, then hold the touch sensor, it will go into Clear mode.  You can tap to switch between YES and NO, but then you have to hold the sensor for another 3-4 seconds to accept your YES or NO.  And it never times out and goes back to the time/date screen - it stays on the Clear screen indifinitely.  Apparently this is happening sometimes while I'm asleep.  Personally I don't see a need to ever reset it from the band, so this feature should either be removed or the app should give you an option to disable it, in case someone DOES want that feature.  Then tonight while typing this article, I checked the time and noticed that it was WAY off - said it was like 8am April 14 (it's actually September, and it showed the correct date/time on screen earlier today).  It had also cleared my steps and sleep info.  No idea how that happened, but once I opened the app and let it sync, the time and date got corrected, as well as all my preferences, including alarms. My tracking data was lost though. Maybe the water inside DID cause some damage.  

So let's talk Pros and Cons.

Pros: 
- Very affordable - only about US$30 including shipping
- Comfortable band doesn't snag/pull arm hair
- OLED screen is great on battery and shows real data on demand
- Screen turns on automatically when you raise your arm to check the time
- Includes one colorful band and one solid black band
- Does not require external charging cable - you plug the device directly into any USB port to charge
- 6 days battery life from a 2 hour charge
- Comprehensive app for iPhone and Android to easily manage the device and track your stats
- Splashproof (not for swimming/bathing)
- Manual has decent English translation
- Bluetooth 4.0 to save battery life on both the band and your phone

Cons:
- Advertised as IP67 waterproof, but banggood says it's only splashproof (which would be IP64)
- OLED screen is too dim to read outside in the sun - have to shade the screen to see anything
- Fonts could use a little improvement on-screen for better legibility
- A few odd translation errors in the app, but no show-stoppers
- Screen is large and may end up getting scratched
- Too easy to accidentally reset/clear the band and lose the day's tracking data

Summary:
When there are so many choices for fitness bands, there's no reason to overspend.  The LYNWO M6 packs a ton of useful features into a tiny package that has great battery life and fully developed software that feels polished, not flaky beta.  At this point, there's absolutely no reason to pay the premium for the name brand trackers like FitBit.  

Now my only problem is that my wife wants this tracker to replace her FitBit.  I guess I'll have to order my own LYNWO M6 now!
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