It’s that time of year, when too much Thanksgiving turkey, pumpkin pie, and celebrating throughout December make us all take notice of our tighter-fitting trousers and resolve to do something about it in the coming year. To that end, there is an abundance of electronic gadgets — fitness and activity trackers — to help remind us of our promises to ourselves and to help track our progress. It’s a market with no shortage of choices and –while we’ve already looked at some recently — here is an overview of some popular choices for the new year.
Fitbit One is perfect for those beginning to monitor their daily activity level by tracking their steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned and stairs climbed. An easy to read OLED display shows the days data, plus the time, at the click of a button. The Fitbit One also tracks sleep and sleep quality and comes with a wristband for use during sleep. What’s more, the device connects to Fitbit’s online application, which allows goals, competition among friends, food logging, weight, workouts, and more. The Fitbit One comes with a battery that recharges quickly and lasts about 10 days before needing some more juice.
The UPMove tracks steps and distance, along with intensity. It compares idle and active time and provides a total calories burned at the end of the day. The UPMove can be used to track sleep when used with a wristband, which is sold separately. What’s more, the UPMove can be clipped to clothing or popped into one of a variety of bracelets available for the device. The Move integrates with the UP “Smart Coach” App, an intelligent AI partner, which catalogs activity data, food, weight, water, streaks, goals, and milestones, while motivating you and allowing you to compete with others.
UP2 is the successor to Jawbone’s slimmer, sleeker UP24 activity tracker, that was so popular last year, but the UP2 is only about half the size. The new wristband delivers all of the key features customers loved about UP24, including a Smart Alarm, which will wake you up at the optimal time in a given time range, and an alert that will tell you when you’ve been sitting for too long, all while taking up even less space on the wrist. The Up2, like other Jawbone offerings doesn’t display data on the device; you must look at your paired smartphone for that information.
This is a really good looking watch. The Activité tracks steps, runs, swimming and calories burned — all without pushing any buttons. It records your sleep and conducts analysis on your sleep patterns and will wake you with a silent, vibrating alarm. There’s no charging involved, its battery lasts up to 8 months and its iOS/Android app gives a digital face to this analog device.
Fitbit Charge HR is an advanced fitness tracker that delivers what Fitbit calls “PurePulse continuous wrist-based heart rate tracking,” which looks at your heart rate all day long and provides feedback on workout intensity and a more accurate calorie count. Charge HR also allows users to track their slumber with automatic sleep tracking to see how long you sleep and how well you slept and it even has a silent alarm that vibrates to wake you. Charge HR features SmartTrack, allowing trackers to automatically recognize continuous movement and identify a wide variety of activities and sports.
The UP3 takes all the features of the UP2 and adds heart health monitoring. It’s a passive mode of looking at the heart, examining your resting heart rate, providing unique insight into how daily influences such as diet and stressful meetings can affect heart health. Over time, the Smart Coach will begin to understand your daily habits and begin feeding you info on how external factors, such as sleep, activity, nutrition and hydration, are impacting your resting heart rate.
The vivosmart also tracks heart rate, activity, distance, and calories, but it has a really great, easy-to-read display, which can be displayed in portrait or landscape. It displays text and call notifications and does it all with silent vibrating alerts. You can even control the music on your phone from the vivosmart. Another cool feature about the vivosmart is that you can use it in place of a chest strap when paired with other Garmin devices.
Fitbit Surge allows users to train smarter and go father with this sleek fitness watch. Surge users can track their activities and get real-time stats for steps, heart rate, distance, calories burned, and stairs climbed right on their wrists. Surge automatically tracks sleep and offers multi-sport mode to record running, cross training, and cardio workouts. Surge has a feature called SmartTrack, which automatically recognizes continuous movement and identifies a variety of activities and sports. You can download customizable watch faces and get text and call notifications, while controlling music on your phone when you’re on the go.
Garmin is big in GPS, so they’ve integrated location information into this device. That means if you’re out on a golf course (and have downloaded info from their database of over 38,000 courses), you’ll know exactly how many yards to the pin. Vivoactive offers apps that are specific to running, swimming, and cycling and you can download others to keep an eye on the weather or remind you where you parked your car. Watch faces can be swapped out and the touchscreen display on this thin watch is easily readable, even in direct sunlight. You will need a chest strap or the vivosmart HR (see above) to monitor your heart rate with this device.
All of these devices really excel when paired with a smartphone or desktop app. There, data is presented in lots of ways, so that it’s easy to understand, review, and compare to previous workouts. What’s more, most of them have some form of community where you can get coaching and pointers on improving performance or compare data with friends so you can engage in friendly competition.
Ultimately, all of these are great and each has its own benefits. The Jawbone models are a bit more stylish, but require a smartphone to see your progress, the Fitbit models have easy to read displays, and the Garmin products are a little more feature-rich than the others. The Withings is just gorgeous for an activity tracker. But really, the big thing is for people to get up and move. If one of these products will help motivate you to do that, that’s the most important thing.
Disclosure: GeekDad received samples of these items for review purposes.