Published on November 16th, 2011 | by Greg0
Zeo Mobile: Better Sleep, But Not Yet Perfected
Ah, sleep. One-third of our lives, poorly understood, and a frequent cause of health problems and physical ailments. Whether it's worry over your current state, or perhaps just curiosity, sleep tracking has hit the mainstream and can help you awake more refreshed as well as analyze your personal patterns.
We've seen many of these devices- including the original Zeo which we liked quite a bit almost exactly two years ago- but the new Zeo Mobile with the Softwave headband offers a few things that set it apart. First, the low pricetag is compelling- under $100 brings it to the "gift-giving for Mom or Dad" range. Of course, they'll need a smartphone to use it- Android or iOS only at the moment- but that's still a decent user base. Installing the free app on the iPad was simple; pairing the device pretty easy. The headband is fairly comfortable, and widely adjustable, but though getting consistent results throughout a night was a bit more difficult. We'll talk about that more in a moment.
Zeo Mobile basically consists of a headband and base. You wear the headband each night, and it uses a variety of sensors to identify your REM and deep sleep. It uses Bluetooth to wirelessly transfer that data to your mobile device, and you can see everything graphed. Further, much like other competitor systems and the original Zeo, you can replace your alarm with their nifty SmartWake feature, that allows you to set a firm alarm but will wake you up at the optimal point near then. This way, you aren't roused from a deep sleep abruptly, which can negatively affect the rest of your day.
We liked the look and feel of the app, for the most part, though testing was done almost exclusively on the iOS platform, both iPhone and iPad. One issue is that the bedside unit is fairly bulky, and thus a bit hard to travel with. The battery life on the headband is not lengthy, and resulted in us losing some data- it can last through two nights in theory, but cut out part of the way through our second night when we hadn't recharged. There isn't an easy way to tell battery life on the headband itself, from what we could see. Worse, you need to leave your mobile device turned on over night- it has to be plugged in and not locked in order to receive the data. Further, we had to manually close some background apps to get everything working correctly. Word is that the app will be updated shortly, but definitely has some rough edges in the meantime.
Overall, it's a great price for a fun sleep tracking system. If you haven't tried them before or already have one that you use, this might be the easiest way to do so. Don't expect miracles- but you can likely count on some interesting data and positive changes in your alertness, once you get everything set up and if you can remember to charge everything. $100, available online and in stores now.