HPB’s National Steps Challenge is back for a 4th season and you can collect one of 2 fitness trackers: Careeach HR and Actxa Tempo 2, both capable of monitoring your heart rates. After using the Tempo 2 for a week, here is my review of it.
Even if you have collected a step tracker from the previous seasons, you can still collect a new one, though only at selected roadshows. For more information about where you can collect your NSC season 4 step tracker, visit the link here.
Summary – Much Better than Last Year’s Careeach Band, Still Free
- Absolutely free (Even for previous seasons’ participants!)
- Very bright display, visible under sunlight
- No charging cable needed
- Comfortable to wear
- Continuous heart rate tracking
- Mostly accurate step tracking when walking
- Insanely long queue
- App lacks a lot of important features
- Heart rate sensor behaves wildly
- Requires charging every 5-6 days with 1h workout each day
Collection Process – So Long!!!
Collection of trackers began on 28th September and I went to the Jurong East roadshow at 2:40PM that day. The queue was long and we were told that waiting time was an estimated 3 hours. Whew! Only Singaporeans would queue so long for free stuff…
The physical queue portion only takes about an hour, but don’t get too happy yet. After you reach the registration, you will be asked to sign up on the app and then collect a queue number. Now, the real waiting game begins…
I collected my number slip at 3:40PM, but only got the message that I was 100th in the queue at 5:45PM. Finally at 6:30PM, I saw my number on the screen. From the start of the queue to the time I collected it, I waited for close to 4 hours. Insane!
If you are visiting during the weekends, the queue might get a lot worst. Bring chairs if you need to, download some shows and go to the toilet before you join the queue.
Unboxing & Setup – Basic
There are only 2 things included in the box: an instruction manual and the band itself. No charging cable? There is no need for one and we will be taking a look at how to charge it later. (For those that read my Careeach review, it charges the same way)
The people at the roadshow should have already powered on the device for you, so all you need to do is pair it to the Healthy 365 app. To do so, open the app and select the step tracker you got. On your band, tap the button until you see an 8 digit number.
On the app, the numbers should appear. Tap on it. After pairing is done, you will be asked to verify that the band with a 4 digit pin. Just enter the time you see on the band.
Once done, you can start using Tempo 2. There is 1 year warranty for the Actxa Tempo 2, but you will have to keep both the box and the instruction manual. Don’t throw them away!
Design & Display – Pretty Comfortable, Not Bad for Something that is Free!
Built by local company Actxa specially for National Steps Challenge, the Actxa Tempo 2 has a pretty generic fitness band look, but it is pretty well built. It has a 1″ LCD display on the front, with a capacitive button right below it.
Tempo 2’s display is really bright, a lot brighter than the one on last year’s Careeach band and this makes it a lot more visible when viewed under the sun. Awesome! There is no lift to wake though, so you will have to tap the button every time.
Due to a smaller display compared to the Careeach, the main body of Tempo 2 isn’t as tall, so it fits better around the wrist, with more comfort. Its straps look and feel very similar to last year’s Careeach; it looks cheap, but is flexible and gentle on the skin.
So how do you charge it? Look at the back of the band and you will see a lightning icon. Pull out the strap nearer to the icon and you will find a USB head. Plug it into a USB port to charge.
One thing new on both of this year’s step trackers is the inclusion of heart rate sensor, which sometimes emits green light on the back of the band. I will be going into more details below.
Unlike most of the bands with heart rate sensor I have reviewed, protrusion at the back is minimal, so you don’t feel the hump pressing on your wrist when you wear the Tempo 2.
Navigating on the Band- Straightforward
There is only one button to interact with the display: the capacitive navigation button on the bottom. Tapping once will light up the display and show the time, date and battery. continue tapping and you will also see steps and distance traveled.
Four taps will bring you to a heart icon. Long press the navigation button to start a workout session. During the workout, you will be able to see your heart rate, as well as the time. Long press again to end and you will see a summary of your workout.
The fifth tap will bring up your band’s BFN number, used for pairing to the app. Finally, one more tap will bring you to the power off screen. Long press till the bar is full to turn the Tempo 2 off. To turn on, long press on the navigation button again.
Steps Tracking – Is it Accurate?
As a fitness band, the most basic task it must get right is step tracking. So how well can it track your steps? Last year’s Careeach band was one of the most accurate fitness bands in terms of step tracking, so I took both for a run and compared them.
When walking on flat ground, the Tempo 2 was slightly more accurate, but both were only off by under 4 steps per hundred steps. With a little bit of stairs, both tend to over count, but the Tempo 2 was always closer to the actual step count.
However, when running, Careeach band seem to do a much better job, with steps recorded off by about 2 steps every hundred steps, while the Tempo 2 exceeded by more than 5 steps. Still, pretty impressive; some bands I tested can exceed by double digits.
Heart Rate – Goes Wild Sometimes
Occasionally, the heart rate sensor will light up to record your heart rate, but you will not be able to see the value, not even in the app. To actually see your real-time heart rate, you will have to start a workout session, which is pretty troublesome.
But this is probably done to save battery. The Tempo 2 is capable of continuous heart rate tracking, which a feature usually found only on costly fitness trackers and can drain up the battery quite quickly. So it make sense to activate it only when needed.
The only complain I have though is that all of the recorded heart rate data and workout sessions are not stored in the app, at least not yet. Even the heart rate history is not reflecting anything right now. Hope HPB will fix their app soon.
How accurate is the heart rate tracker? To test it, I compared the Tempo 2’s heart rate readings to my Lifesense Band 2, another fitness tracker with continuous heart rate monitoring.
Starting a workout, the Tempo 2 requires a few seconds (sometimes only 10s, sometimes 45s) before it would start displaying your heart rate, so do not worry when you see 0 BPM.
Lifesense Band 2’s reading was pretty consistent under non-vigorous activities, while Tempo 2’s fluctuated hectically when walking, only settling down when I sit.
Taken under 2 minutes apart, Tempo 2’s reading changed drastically
There were also times when the heart rate reading by the Tempo 2 would randomly spike when I am walking. There was once it went up to 170 BPM. Clearly, not very reliable.
Tempo 2 has a feature where the band will vibrate and inform you to take it easy when your heart rate gets too high. But with the bug that I just mentioned, the message sometimes appear when you are just strolling casually. Hmm….
But when it works, it does quite a good job at detecting that I am exercising. I went for a run with the Tempo 2 and Lifesense Band 2. Both fitness bands reflected similar values when at peak, but the Tempo 2 tends to reflect the change in heart rate faster.
Both doesn’t seem to be too accurate when it comes to the values of the heart rate, so take them with a pinch of salt. (After all, this thing is free) If you have health issues that require accurate reading of heart rate, do consult your doctor for advice.
Battery Life & Charging – Charge it Weekly
On their website, Actxa claims that Tempo 2 can last for about 5 days on a single charge. From my usage, I was able to use it for a whole week, with a total workout duration of over 5 hours.
By the end of day 6 however, it had only 1 bar of battery remaining, which disabled the workout mode. Hence, if you use workout mode for an hour a day, you have to charge the Tempo 2 about once every 5-6 days. Still, pretty acceptable battery life.
Before using the band for the very first time, you will have to charge it for 2 hours (according to the people at the roadshow). Subsequent charges only takes about 1.5h for the Tempo 2 to go from zero to full. A little longer than the 1h I was told, but still fast.
Conclusion – Free Stuff Can be Good
Last year’s Careeach band was free, but I couldn’t stand how cheap it felt and ended up throwing it aside after a week. Thankfully, this year’s Tempo 2 is a lot more usable, featuring a much nicer design, greater comfort and much brighter display.
Best of all, it is still free, even if you have collected a fitness tracker from any of the previous seasons. Thank you HPB!
Should you go through the long queue to collect one? If you already have something better that can be used for National Steps Challenge, no point in doing so. But if you do not have one and you have the patience to queue 4 hours, why not?