The Zband is the best system I've used so far, mainly because it is comfortable, easy to use, and does not wake a sleeping partner the way bed shakers and flashing alarms might.
The Lowdown (What is it?)
The Zband is a wearable vibrating alarm. The co-founders, Paul Griffin and Declan Leonard of Ireland, designed it because Griffin had always had a distaste for noisy alarms. While the original idea behind Zband seems to be catered toward hearing people who want a more gentle awakening and don't want to disturb those around them, the vibrating concept is certainly perfect for deaf and hard-of-hearing users.
How does it work?
Heads up: The Zband needs to be charged before the first use. The hard plastic square pops out of the armband, and can be charged using any MicroSD charger (the same connector as Android phones). The manufacturers suggest that the Zband holds a charge for up to 10 days, and mine hasn't died yet.
The Zband pairs with an Android or Windows 8 phone or tablet via an app and Bluetooth. First, I downloaded the Zband app to my phone, then pressed the "Z" button on the wristband itself, which started to flash green. When I powered up the app, my phone asked my permission to turn on the Bluetooth connection; I clicked "allow" and the devices paired, with the app confirming their connection in the top left corner.
From there the app itself functions much like the regular Android clock. You can set and save alarms to go off at different times for different days of the week. You can also adjust the strength of the Zband's vibration and the length of its snooze time in the corresponding tabs.
After I saved my selections, I closed the app and put the square back into the band. Once the alarm is saved, the device no longer needs to be connected to your phone or Bluetooth
In the morning when the Zband woke me up, I pressed the "Z" button on the armband to snooze. Press and hold the button for a few seconds to turn the alarm off for the day.
To see the manufacturer's video of a Zband in action, click here.
My overall impressions:
After using the Zband for a week, my experience has been a positive one. The app is easy to use, and the Zband itself is small, light, and low-maintenance, especially considering it has no battery and rarely needs to be charged. The only drawback is that, since the armband has no visual interface, there is no way to check whether the alarm is set or to know whether/when the alarm will go off just by looking at the armband unit; you need to sync up with the app for that.
Overall though, Zband has been better than any other alarm technology I've used to date, including other (lessor) vibrating wristwatch designs.
Miscellaneous fun fact from Zband's website:
- Have an iPhone? Never fear: Zband can be used with Windows desktop or laptop computers, too, provided that you have a Bluetooth dongle to facilitate the connection.
How to get it:
Available online at http://www.zband.biz/index.php
$59.99 USD, and free shipping anywhere in the world