It used to be all about Fitbit, but suddenly tracking your fitness has become a competition in itself. The good news is that when the market floods, the prices drop. Still, how can you choose among the many wrist bands and clothing clips you see at the sporting store?
Luckily, Yahoo! blogger David Pogue did the heavy lifting so you don’t have to. He tested a whole lot of these gadgets, hoping to find a perfect one that would track movement, sleep, food and heart rate; be attractive, small and waterproof; have a long battery life; provide a like-minded community of participants; and link easily to a phone but have a screen of its own that tells you who’s calling or texting you. A GPS would be a plus. He did not find that level of perfection—some of what Pogue wanted doesn’t even exist yet. Technology can’t figure out what you’re eating, for example, but it can give you a calorie count once you input your meals.
Dividing the candidates into categories, Pogue came up with these conclusions:
Step-and-Sleep Counters at about $50
Jawbone Up Move plastic disk is Pogue’s clear favorite. It clips to your clothes or pops into a separately sold wristband and features a six-month disposable battery, showerproof design and superior phone app that tracks your food and lets you compete within a community.
Pogue’s four-way tie goes to Jawbone Up2, Fitbit Flex, Garmin Vivofit 2 and Garmin Vivosmart. “The Up2’s phone app offers useful tips based on observations it makes about your behavior,” Pogue explains. “The Fitbit Flex’s indicator lights are a lot better than no progress indicators at all; the Vivofit and Vivosmart have actual screens. All three come with terrific apps.”
Pogue found many of these to be expensive and clunky. He settled on recommending the relatively smaller Fitbit Surge ($250), the color-screened Garmin Vivoactive ($250) and the outstandingly body-tracking Basis Peak ($200).
On Pogue’s scale, bands with heart monitors fall between the low-end “glorified pedometers” and the high-end watches. This is the newest category on the market. Pogue fell in love with Fitbit Charge HR ($150), which compared favorably with the Microsoft Band and Jawbone Up3 Band, both more expensive than the Charge HR.
So after all of that research, Fitbit still wins, at least for David Pogue. “No tracker is perfect,” Pogue says. The Charge HR, though, “is the smallest continuous-pulse tracker on the market. Its battery goes for five days on a charge. It notifies you (on its screen) of incoming calls. It has Fitbit’s helpful Web interface, which gives you a bigger, richer dashboard for your progress.” The only piece of Pogue’s wish list that the Charge HR doesn’t feature is the waterproof factor. Read his entire blog post here.