Fitness Trackers: Top Picks
Activity tracker, sleep tracking, waterproof, GPS and heart rate monitor are just some of the many features available to anyone seeking a fitness tracker. Not wanting to make an investment until you have seen one in action? I’ve tested out a few of the top rated fitness trackers just so I could help you find the activity band that is right for you.
Garmin vívoactive $$$
The Garmin vívoactive is a cross between a smart watch and an activity tracker. At first glance one the white band caught the eye and it gave it a hip look but after wearing it for a short period of time the size really becomes apparent. The screen measures about 1.5”x1.5” and comes in a variety of colorful bands or dress up your device with a black or white leather. Features indicate that the vívoactive is sunlight readable and indeed it works during full sunlight, however in lowlight situations the screen is pretty unreadable. The button on the left does turn on a backlight but to conserve battery life it is only on for a few seconds.
While the screen is a touchscreen, in order to utilize the fitness apps you need to push the button on the right, which takes you to the screen with available apps. You then choose which app to use by touching the screen or swiping to locate the app you want to use. Apps include running, biking, swimming, golf, walking and indoor running, walking and biking. I like that it is specific yet it is also a little too specific for my taste and for the average person you may not want or need all of those fitness options.
Garmin does up the appeal with GPS tracking, being waterproof up to 50 meters and help motivate you with a MOVE bar to show you your progress. The smartwatch technology gently vibrates the vívoactive to alert you about incoming calls, texts, email and calendar reminders. Battery life is also another highlight feature of the vívoactive. This device has a rechargeable battery that can last up to three weeks, that is pretty noteworthy considering most smart devices with rechargeable batteries last anywhere from one to seven days.
Overall the Garmin vívoactive is a nice device with some great features that do warrant the higher cost, a little big for my liking but might be just what you are looking for.
Pebble Time $$
Looking for something that is in the smartwatch court but with fitness tracking ability? Then the Pebble Time may be just what you are looking for. The Pebble uses a reflective color display which is always on and even with this feature has a battery that lasts up to seven days before needing a charge. Another huge plus you won’t get with most smartwatches is that you can shower and swim with this baby on. A few other top features include compatibility with Android and iPhones, a timeline interface and it plays nice with a variety of third party apps and watch faces. The unique idea behind the timeline interface is that you have the ability to choose what you news you care about-notifications, calendar events, weather, sports scores, breaking news, missed calls, app alerts-and lets you see what’s coming up or what has already happened, when you want it.
The Pebble Time plays nice with quite a few apps ranging from fitness exclusive to battery saver to custom watch faces and more. Simply open the Pebble app and select which apps you wish to appear on your watch. They have an entire app store for you to choose from, with a section dedicated to health and fitness. You also have the ability to rearrange the order they show up on your watch. This may not be an Apple watch but there are some definite advantages to owning a Pebble Time including all of the smartwatch capabilities for less than half the price of an Apple Watch. This is a great option if you are looking for a device that isn’t only fitness specific, keeps you connected without being too bulky and doesn’t break the bank.
Jawbone UP4 $$$
Jawbone is known for its sleek, simplistic design and sophisticated technology. Because of the simple design of the Jawbone all information collected is synced to a mobile app. This is nice if you are looking for something that doesn’t seem bulky and looks ok with other jewelry but not if you like to know your progress and don’t have a phone on you at all times.
The Jawbone UP4 takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to sophisticated technology. The UP4 is the latest Jawbone to hit the market and a few features include a smart alarm to not only track your sleep but identify the best moment in your sleep cycle to wake you up, ability to make payments with American Express, an idle alert lets you know you need to get up and moving in order to reach your goals, an UP barcode scanner allows you to quickly log your meals and track calories, and if you have friends or family that own a Jawbone you can compete against each other in a step duel. The new sensor technology in the UP4 monitors both Resting Heart Rate and Passive Heart Rate to help give you a complete picture of your heart health.
As a price conscious person the Jawbone is a little high for me but when you take really look into all of the features it is worth the price. In addition to all of the features listed above they offer a smart coach option within their mobile app. This smart coach isn’t like other fitness bands, it actually becomes smarter over time and as it gets to know you their tips and insights become more personal. I may still be on the fence about not having a screen available on the band and not sure I want to spend that much but the Jawbone comes with a lot of great features that will help you get back on track and stay there.
Microsoft has produced a device that is a pretty good balance between a fitness band and a smartwatch. The Microsoft Band is different from most devices in that it is made to be worn on the inside of your wrist. To get the best performance from the 10 different sensors the device should be worn snugly and comfortably. An immediate con to the Microsoft Band is its rigid, stiff design makes it a bit uncomfortable. This feature has been corrected in their newest version, the Band 2, which has a curved, less stiff band. Aside from the solid band the Microsoft Band has a lot of great features that make it a worthy competitor in the wearable technology realm.
Similar to the Garmin vívoactive, the Band has GPS technology, which allows you to go out for a run or bike ride without having to take your phone. By using the GPS sensor you can improve precision of the step and distance estimates your device collects during the day. The Band allows you to specifically track running, biking and golf but if your workout doesn’t fall into one of those categories you can select workout mode and it will track workout duration, heart rate and calories burned. I like this feature a lot because most of my workouts don’t fall into a specific category but I like to see how long I have be working out without having to look a clock constantly.
Along with the fitness capabilities the Band allows you to receive and read texts, emails, phone and calendar notifications right from the device. It’s nice to be able to see the notifications without making a scene by checking your phone every time someone texts you. The battery life does reflect the amount of sensors and smartwatch technology the Band uses because it is only projected to last two days before needing a charge. Not the end of the world considering the charging cycle is fairly quick but a little inconvenient. Overall this is one of my favorite devices I have tested because it does allow me to track my exercise without being too specific and keep me somewhat connected all for a pretty decent price.
Basis Peak $$$
The Basis Peak is advertised as the ultimate fitness and sleep tracker. Similar to the Garmin vívoactive it is a bit large for my taste but don’t let that stop you from learning more. In order to preserve battery life the Peak was made with a power-efficient black and white display. This gives the activity band a four day battery life that can be recharged. At first glance it isn’t the prettiest of fitness trackers but they do offer alternative bands to spice it up with some color or make it more professional looking with a leather accessory strap.
The Peak uses a touchscreen to help you access all of the available data. With a few swipes of your finger you can check out your heart rate, you current step log and calories burned and set an alarm or use the stop watch. In the beginning it was confusing on which way to swipe for certain features, I am sure after reading the instructions more thoroughly and using it more often the touchscreen swipes would make more sense.
In order to keep the band up-to-date it includes a firmware automatic update which makes sure you area always using the latest technology. In addition to the automatic updates, the Basis Peak includes smartwatch-style notifications for texts, phone calls, email and calendar alerts.
Similar to most fitness trackers the Basis Peak comes with a mobile app that will help you take your fitness data to the next level. Within the app you can view and export any of your statistics, set goals and allow the technology adjust based upon your performance. The cost of the Peak seems fairly high but well worth it if you are looking for a device that will use its Body IQ technology to determine your fitness exertion, give you an in-depth look at how well you sleep and how to improve and much more then this is band for you.
Sony Smartband Talk Swr30 $$
The Sony Smartband Talk is a lightweight fitness tracker with a variety of unique features to go along with it. Similar to the Microsoft Band it is a little bit of a cross between a smartwatch giving you notifications right on your device and a fitness tracker. In addition to the smart notification and fitness pieces, Sony also allows you to run multiple add-ons from your band to your phone. For example you can add a camera shutter app to your band. By tapping the camera button on the band it will open up the camera app on your phone and then if you tap it one more time you can take a picture. Is this really important or super impressive, probably not but it is one of the many features Sony packed into this little device.
While the Sony Smartband Talk isn’t exactly the prettiest, eye-catching device, Sony does hope to appeal to you with its easy-to-read e-ink display. This is nice for longer lasting battery life and gives you the ability to read it wherever you are. While this isn’t a phone this device has a microphone and speaker that works like a Bluetooth earpiece except it’s on your wrist. As far as fitness tracking goes, it is pretty basic, the Sony Smartband Talk tracks your steps, breaking them down into running and walking and track your sleep. This device also syncs up to the Sony LifeLog app, which not only tracks your activity but how you use your phone. In my opinion, this is a little overboard, I don’t need it tracking the websites I browse, how many photos I have taken or what my favorite music is. Another drawback that I feel is pretty major is that the Sony Smartband Talk is only compatible with an Android device.
Overall I wouldn’t put this band at the top of my list. Sony tried with the E-ink, lightweight, speaker/microphone answering combo but this device seems to be more of an interest tracker that will give you the time and track your steps. It does fall into a moderately priced range and I do believe the features that it does offer make it worth what you pay, this just isn’t my number one choice.
FitBit Charge HR $$
FitBit has been on the top of the wearable trend for a while and depending on how much you are willing to spend they fit right in the sweet spot by offering a fitness tracking device for a pretty moderate price. While there are similarities across all FitBit devices, the Charge HR adds a little something extra to the table. In addition to the continuous heart rate monitor, this activity band also includes a caller ID plus a watch, auto sleep tracking, up to five days battery life with a rechargeable cord and exercise tracking.
A major plus in my book, FitBit is compatible with both Android and Apple devices and includes an easy to use fitness app that allows users to track exercise, see your battery life, accept challenges from friends, check stats and more. The Charge HR is different from the earlier Fitbits because it also includes a screen, not for notifications but you can customize which stats you want visible on your screen. I like to see the time, my step count, heart rate, see the distance I have traveled today and how many stairs I have climbed. You can pick and choose your preferences from your phone app. Because this is such a popular brand you are more likely to find and connect with friends who also own a FitBit. This allows you to participate in step challenges that can be done with up to 10 other friends or friends of friends.
If you are an avid runner and desire to have GPS technology or a swimmer and need a waterproof device, the Charge HR isn’t the right device for you. Even without these feature the Charge HR is one of the favorite devices that emerged from this test. I like that it is very easy to use and keeps me motivated to get my steps in when I am competing against my friends.
Misfit Flash $
Misfit gives you a way to track your activity and look good doing it. With a modular design the Misfit Flash can be worn almost anywhere, wear it on your wrist, clip it onto your belt, slide it into the pocket of Misfit’s tech tee or wear it in a necklace. Unlike most fitness trackers, the Flash is waterproof up to 3ATM, which means it can be worn in water down to 96 feet in depth and has the ability to automatically recognize your swim activity.
Don’t let this little device fool you, it is an accelerometer-based activity tracker, which automatically tracks your sleep, steps and swimming. Similar to the Jawbone UP Move the Misfit Flash doesn’t have a readable screen and will sync your activity to its mobile app that is compatible with both Android and iOS. It may not have a screen for you to view your progress but its minimalistic interface allow you to check the time but with lights instead of numbers and don’t worry about having to charge your Flash and it comes in a variety of colors.
For a basic fitness tracker the Misfit Flash really does a great job for what it was made for and at a low cost. This is great if you are looking for a simple device that will count your steps and your sleep with a long lasting battery life.
Jawbone UP Move $
If you are looking for a fitness tracker that is easier on the pocketbook then the Jawbone UP Move might be for you. This might be a budget friendly clip but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t accurately track your activity and keep you moving. The UP Move is a clip version with option to purchase a wristband to help more accurately track your sleep. As a clip-on version you will have the ability to “hide” the device by clipping it to your pants or something that doesn’t have a lot of give in it. With a cheaper clip-on version you also have the ability to mix and match colors if you feel compelled to swap out clip colors to match your outfit Jawbone offers you a variety of colors to choose from.
At first glance it’s not the prettiest or coolest looking device but it has its perks including a six month battery life, no need to worry about losing a charger, sync-able to your mobile phone with a great app and tells you your daily progress, the time, allows you to track your sleep and activity all without a screen. Because there isn’t a screen the UP Move uses taps and lights to update you on your progress, this does make it confusing if you forget how many times to tap or how long to hold the button in but just in case you do forget there is always the mobile app.
Similar to the UP4, the UP Move also includes a smart coach that will become smarter the longer it knows you, you can still your activity, your sleep and your food. If you are simply looking for a device that will track your activity without all of the bells and whistles then this budget friendly tracker is for you.
With technology always changing these devices will continue to become more and more sophisticated. I hope you were able to learn a little something about each one of these devices to find out which one is right for you. Not seeing one you like or want to try one out for yourself? Check out lumoid.com, a website that loans out all types of wearable technology to give you a “feel” for the type of fitness band you might be searching for., a website that loans out all types of wearable technology to give you a “feel” for the type of fitness band you might be searching for.