Basis fitness tracker finally goes on sale for $199, mobile apps still MIA

Remember the Basis Band, that fitness-tracking wristband that was supposed to come out earlier this year? Well, the company obviously missed its target for an "early 2012" launch, but it's been busy refining the product and publishing intermittent blog posts to let people know how the device has been shaping up. Well, at last, it's ready for prime time: the band is on sale today, priced at $199, as originally planned.

In case you're just hearing about Basis for the first time, here's a quick recap: unlike Nike Fuelband and other devices aimed at athletes, Basis is attempting to lure in more mainstream users with the ability to set goals and get rewarded for staying on track. (Other devices, including the new Jawbone Up, do this too.) What's interesting, though, is that for a device that claims to target the everyman over the nerd it actually collects an impressive amount of data. For instance, the "Patterns" view in the web console will show not just how many steps you take throughout the day, but which hours of the day you were most active. The band, meanwhile, tracks sweat output, heat dissipation, blood flow and heart rate -- something we can't say about all those other fitness trackers. As for the UI, the site itself is visually pleasing, though some mobile apps would also be nice. (A Basis rep says they're working on it.)

If anything, the product's simplicity comes from the hardware: it uses Bluetooth 4.0 2.1 to transmit all your data to the cloud so that you don't have to sync over USB. Basically, between that and those various sensors, the band should theoretically detect when you're sleeping or exercising so that you don't have to switch modes or enter any information manually. It's worth noting, though, that other fitness trackers mainly stumble when it comes to logging food intake -- something sensors can't detect -- and that's not even something the Basis band covers right now. In other words, it's easy to praise a device for working automatically when it completely bypasses the whole diet piece of the wellness equation. According to Basis, research suggests people don't really use these food-logging tools anyway. We can believe that, actually, though for $199 it would be nice to at least have the option, no? That's another thing: at two hundred bucks this is considerably pricier than competing devices, including the Up band ($129) and the new Fitbit One ($100). Even so, the user experience is everything, isn't it? If you've ever been food-judged by Up, or if the Basis band really is as low-maintenance as it seems, it could still be worth a gander.