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Reviewed: SmartHalo 2 displays and touch interface

This is part two of a two-part series on my experiences with the SmartHalo 2 bike computer. Last week I talked about my general views of the device, and this week I’ll discuss both the displays and the touch interface.

Touch interface

The touch interface is a little temperamental. Sometimes it doesn’t react to input at all, at other times it will behave as if I have swiped the interface when I haven’t been near it at all. As a result, I rarely use the touch interface for anything other than changing between displays.

Unsurprisingly, the touch interface stops working entirely when it is too wet, but I have experienced it not responding at all for an entire ride, and then working perfectly the next ride out.

Peek displays

SmartHalo describes the various displays as “peek” displays; easily legible just by peeking at them. My experience has been varied. Let’s discuss them one at a time:

Distance and Time

These are two of the more useful peek displays, as I use both distance and time ridden as some of my goal metrics. The size of the text and use of the outer LED ring to show distance remaining in the current kilometer makes this very useful at a glance.

I will note, however, that I have found the distance measurement to differ significantly from what Strava reports on my watch or phone – by as much as 800 meters over the course of a fifteen kilometer ride.

Speed

One of the features I wanted the SmartHalo 2 for was to use it as a speedometer. If you never exceed 50 km/h, you’re going to be fine. If you do exceed that speed, however, it is not only useless – it is dangerous, as it caps its measurement there.

Having a relatively accurate (+/- 5 km/h) estimate of your speed is important when going downhill on fast roads – am I close to matching the speed of traffic around me, or do I need to beware of traffic from the rear which may be significantly faster than me? Capping it at 50 km/h is simply unacceptable.

Calories

This is a guesstimated measurement, which tends to differ wildly from the estimates I get from Strava (which couples speed and terrain with heartrate measurement). I find it to be useless.

Clock

Easily legible, and a useful display when you’re just out riding to ride.

Average speed

I don’t use this one much, as my average speed is of much less concert to me than my actual speed, or my distance or time ridden.

Battery

For some reason, my SmartHalo 2 doesn’t update the battery measurement, meaning that this is useless. I will add that it doesn’t show in the app either. I don’t know if it’s an issue with hardware or software, but I will be reporting it to SmartHalo once the biking season is about to end.

Fitness Goal

I don’t set fitness goals on the SmartHalo, using Strava to track those metrics.

Summary

The touch interface leaves something to be desired, and I would honestly have preferred physical buttons – three would have sufficed – to the experience the touch interface offers.

As for the peek displays, they work well enough. I would, however, have liked to have the option that some of them shouldn’t be shown – something that should be available as a setting in the app – as well as a feature where it cycles through them, changing display once every five or so seconds.

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