Star.21 Fitness Band Review

Does a Little Bling Make a Difference?

Star.21 Fitness Tracker
Oaxis Star.21

Wearable fitness devices have been flooding the market for the last few years, picking up even more steam with the release of the 2015 Apple Watch and Apple Health iOS app. And while these devices are certainly useful for motivation, as a fitness professional, I raise an eyebrow at their overall accuracy and don't like the implication in some circles that you can't get fit without tracking your stats.

That said, I do find that having a goal (like 10,000 steps a day), and an easy way to monitor said goal (like wearing a fitness band or watch on your wrist), is a useful way to gauge your current activity level and push toward additional day-to-day movement.

The only question is - which trackers offer greater accuracy and bang for your buck?

Star.21 Fitness Band Overview

The Star.21 Fitness Band is another new wrist-wearable tracker that's designed to monitor daily steps, calorie burn and sleep patterns. Like many other fitness trackers (such as the FitBit and Jawbone UP), the wrist band tracks activity and sleep stats while you wear the band, but to the see details, you have to access the Android or iOS app on your smartphone.

The Pros

The Star.21 band itself is actually quite nice. It's lightweight and attractive, and I've had several people tell me, "It looks so much better than a FitBit!" The clock functionality is pretty cool, too, once you figure out how to use it, and I feel reasonably confident that the step calculations are fairly close to accurate (plus or minus 10% - a buffer I suggest anyone use when wearing a fitness tracking device).

At $70, the band is less expensive than many other similar devices on the market, and it does boast a 15 day battery life, which is beneficial for those who hate charging things frequently. That said, I'd be cautious before making a purchase. My issues with the Star.21 band come from its app functionality and the company's overall premise - that it takes 21 days to form a new habit.

The Cons or Considerations

Sadly, the average amount of time it takes an individual to form a new habit is highly variable, and it usually takes much longer than the oft-cited 21 days. A 2010 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found it took study participants anywhere from 18 to 254 days to solidify a new positive behavior, with the average length of time taking just over two months at 66 days.

In other words - while 21 days is a nice easy number to shoot for, I was instantly disappointed by the company's failure to do more research about the true nature of habit formation.

If you're a better person than me and can get past this minor oversight, the real issue comes with the app's functionality:

  • All readings are in metric. Most bands and trackers enable the user to select how they see their stats displayed - miles or kilometers, pounds or kilograms, inches or centimeters. Unfortunately, the Star.21 app didn't allow for these selections. I had to do the manual calculations to enter my height and weight in centimeters and kilograms. Not a big deal since you only do it once. But then, I could only see my estimated distance in kilometers. I'm pretty good at mentally estimating miles from kilometers, but it still threw me off.
  • Inaccurate distance estimates. I might've been able to overlook the distance being tallied in kilometers... if it were actually accurate. There are two reasons I know it's inaccurate: First, I know exactly how far the route is that I walk my dogs - 2.8 miles. Whenever I'd get back from a walk with my dogs, the farthest the app ever estimated my distance was about half that - 1.3 miles. Second, you can generally estimate that 2,000 steps is about the equivalent of a mile, so 12,000 steps would be roughly six miles. The day I took moreĀ  than 12,000 steps the app said I'd only gone 3.8 miles. In other words, the distance estimate is off by almost half.
  • Poor sleep tracking functionality. Despite doing my best to remember to set the band to sleep mode every night (you have to do this manually... and it's trickier than it should be), I was regularly disappointed by the band's ability to actually track my sleep. Even though some nights I knew I didn't sleep well, I also knew I got more sleep than the band's tally of half an hour. Some nights I received no data at all. Since this was one of the features I was looking forward to using, I was disappointed by the results.
  • Weird personal goal-setting functionality. Another interesting feature of the Star.21 band is that after three days of tracking your activity, it's supposed to provide you with a personalized daily steps goal based on your activity. The results I received for my goal were bizarre. After averaging about 9,000 steps per day on the three days I wore the band, the goal I was given was a measly 3,650 steps. I'm not sure how cutting my steps by more than half is a "goal;" not to mention, once the goal's been set, the app won't let you set a new one.
  • Questionable calorie-burn accuracy. It's important to remember that the number of calories burned provided by the app is a rough estimate based on your total steps, sex, height and weight. What it doesn't account for is type of activity, intensity of activity or any activity that doesn't register as "steps," such as rowing, swimming or cycling. I've been doing more strength training and high intensity interval training lately, which only adds small amounts to my total daily activity, and won't add significantly to my calories burned. This means I won't get a boost from the app in calories, despite the intensity of my workout or the "afterburn" effect of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). In other words, my calories burned is most likely registering low.
  • Poor syncing. Once you've set up Bluetooth, the app is supposed to automatically sync with the wrist band as soon as you open it up. I don't think it's ever worked properly for me. I've had to manually re-sync the band with the app every single time I want to see updated statistics. This doesn't take long, so it's not a huge deal, but it's annoying nonetheless.

Making a Decision

If all you're looking for from a fitness tracking device is something that's easy to wear and can help you monitor your steps, the Star.21 tracker isn't terrible. But if you're looking for accuracy and easy usability, you might be better off paying a little more for another device.

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