Tracking information like movement, steps and heart rate are all part of the quantified self movement which is quickly gaining in popularity.
With so many wearables on the market today, choosing a fitness tracker or smartwatch can be difficult. The right one for you will be based on your individual needs; whether it’s step counting, sleep tracking or 24/7 heart rate tracking, there’s something for everyone.
We’ve seen quite a few new wearables recently from Fitbit, Garmin and other manufacturers, and the second half of 2017 should be no different. Read on for our pick of the best, broken them down across various categories.
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Fitbit Charge 2
Fitbit Charge 2 is our choice as the best device for the average person. This is a sleek looking fitness tracker that delivers solid improvements on its predecessors in a few areas, particularly in terms of design.
Charge 2 carries over all all of the features found on the Charge HR, and throws in an OLED display that is four times as large. This means you will find 24/7 heart rate monitoring (including resting heart rate), and the device will keeps tabs on steps, distance, floors, active minutes, calories and sleep. To help you stay active throughout the day, Charge 2 sends out reminders that encourage you to take 250 steps every hour.
Fitbit has debuted a few new features as well. The new tracker links to the GPS on your smartphone to provide more precise data on pace and distance when you’re running, while recording a map of your route in the app. It also offers Multi-Sport tracking and smartphone notifications.
Plus there are a few new features that tap into your hear-rate readings. The most interesting and potentially useful one is called Cardio Fitness Level. It gives you a snapshot of your fitness level using a personalised Cardio Fitness Score, which is based on your VO2 Max. The other new addition are Guided Breathing Sessions. This is a relaxing mindfulness experience that calms your body and mind through personalized deep-breathing sessions called “Relax”.
Fitbit likes to think of the Charge 2 for everyday users who want to get fitter and see how they are doing in real time on the wristband and also via the excellent free app and graphics-heavy desktop dashboard. The wearable definitely serves this purpose.
Garmin Vivosmart HR
Vivosmart HR comes in a close second. The tracker features a heart rate monitor, automatic activity and sleep tracking and smart notifications.
Just like the Charge 2, it will keep tabs on your ticker 24/7. You can view your current and resting heart rate from the touchscreen, and during workouts you can see current heart rate when you swipe the display.
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The inclusion of a crisp new screen this time around, a barometer for tracking floors climbed, and most importantly a wrist based HR sensor, means that Garmin can go head to head now with Fitbit. And finally, the Garmin Connect software is top notch, whether you are utilising the smartphone app or the even more comprehensive web dashboard.
For a few extra bucks, you can splash out on a Vivosmart HR+. The exact same tracker, with built-in GPS thrown in.
Nokia Steel HR
We predicted that fitness trackers would soon start to disappear. Not literally of course, but in the sense that wearables would start to seemlessly integrate with our environment.
Steel HR is the newest offering from Nokia (formerly Withings). The watch takes much of what was great about the Activite range and upgrades it with new features including a heart rate monitor and a digital display for smartphone notifications.
There are no buttons to push. Steel HR automatically tracks everything and syncs the info to your app to give you metrics, personal coaching and more. The main novelty for an analogue type device is the addition of heart rate monitoring.
Real-time heart rate info is displayed on the watch during your exercise, and more detailed info including time spent in heart rate zones can be seen in the app. The watch also tracks resting heart rate, one of the most important metrics to assess overall health over time.
This is a device that is designed to look and feel normal, and it works in pretty much every situation. You can wear it not only during business hours, but also for a formal event, as well as light hiking or other sporting events.
Garmin Forerunner 935
The Forerunner 935 is a fully featured running and triathlon GPS sports watch. You will find the usual Elevate wrist-based heart rate for 24/7 heart rate monitoring, and GPS and GLONASS coverage. Additionally, the wearable sports a barometer, altimeter, and a compass.
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Where the watch stands out most though, is in its detailed analysis of performance. According to Garmin, the Forerunner 935 aggregates past training results and then uses that data to evaluate the amount of effort users exert during fitness sessions, i.e. if you are slacking off or overdoing it. It does this through two new additional metrics, training load and training status.
Training load looks at users’ exercise activity over the last seven days and compares it to the optimal range for your fitness and recent training history. Training status does the same thing with a more short-term view, and lets you know if you’re training productively, peaking or overreaching. Additionally, the training effect metric tracks and reviews the aerobic and anaerobic benefit of a training session. There are also other advanced dynamics for running, cycling and swimming, including FTP, VO2 max, cadence and others.
The only negative is the price. On that note, the Garmin Forerunner 235 is also a great option. In addition to tracking your runs, the gadget will provide you with the recovery advisor and VO2 Max, but you will miss out on the more advanced analysis of the 935.
Garmin Fenix 5
To our delight, Garmin announced not one, but three new watches in the Fenix line at CES 2017 in Las Vegas. This is the ultimate outdoor adventuring watch that packs bumped up specs into a slightly slimmer body. You can choose between multiple models that vary in size to fit every wrist and every workout. The watch features everything you would ever want for fitness training plus feature sets for outdoor navigation.
Fenix 5 is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who are into multi sports and want to be able to track everything. You can use it for cycling, open water swimming, cross country skiing, climbing, indoor run/bike/swim, hiking and much more.
In addition to heart rate tracking from the wrist, the watch provides advanced running metrics including vertical oscillation and vertical ratio, VO2 max and a recovery advisor. Outdoor navigation includes things like 3-axis compass, altimeter and barometer and TracBack feature.
Garmin Vivoactive HR
Vivoactive HR takes all the features from the original Vivoactive device, but upgrades it with a heart rate monitor and a sleeker new design. Like the Blaze, you are able to switch bands with different coloured ones. Unlike the Blaze, Garmin’s tracker has built-in GPS, which means you can leave your phone behind when you go for a run.
The tracker keeps tabs on steps, intensity minutes, monitors sleep, and now with the addition of a barometric altimeter – counts the number of floors climbed. It uses 24/7 wrist-based heart rate data to calculate calories burned as well as the intensity of fitness activities.
Built-in sports apps include running; cycling; golf and swimming plus added support for paddle boarding and skiing. The watch also continuously monitors for periods of sustained activity. This is essentially auto-recognition for running, swimming, cycling and elliptical.
If you don’t mind the bulky form-factor, this is a great option.
Xiaomi Mi Band 2
The third generation band from the Chinese manufacturer combines the best features of the predecessor devices, and throws an OLED display into the mix. Which means that for the first time Mi tracker users are not tied to their smartphones to check on their daily progress.
The device itself is super lightweight and comfortable to wear. The “capsule” pops in and out of the band for charging but is in no danger of falling out once pushed in. The wearable tracks steps, distance, calories and sleep, and has a battery that lasts 20 days between charges. It is water-resistant and will even wake you up in the morning.
Mi Band 2 uses a light-based PPG (photoplethysmography) sensor to measure your body’s blood flow. The heart rate sensor can be used on demand, such as while running or monitoring your sleep patterns.
Misfit Shine 2
Shine 2 looks very much like its predecessor. It is however a bit larger in diameter, and also thinner. At only 8mm thick it is Misfit’s thinnest wearable ever. With zero cables, an elegant design, and no need to recharge, Shine 2 is one of the best-looking, lowest-maintenance activity trackers.
The device, which tracks a good deal of activity, can be worn anywhere as it is very small and light. The low profile means it is comfortable to wear at night, maximising its effectiveness.
You will get detail on your nightly deep, light and REM cycles as well as total sleep duration and periods when you were awake. You can also set the vibrating alarm to wake you up. All importantly, the Shine automatically knows when you are asleep so there is no missed data. It is also able to sync to Apple Health and a host of third party apps.
Misfit made activity tracking accessible for everyone with the Shine. As something to look at, The Misfit Shine 2 really works and we love its low-maintenance status and reasonable price.
To achieve a higher level of measurement reliability, and to perform each possible exercise, the Beast sensor is configured as a small magnet, which enables it to be easily plugged on barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells or gym machines and to the body itself for performing free body exercises.
The device shows you in real-time how much you are pushing, rep by rep, whether you are lifting weights, using a machine or performing bodyweight exercises. You can chose to visualize Speed, Power or Strength and monitor your performance live while working out.
The device utilizes something called Velocity Based Training. This takes the guesswork on how much load you should be adding or removing on a particular set. It also tells you if you should move on and try a new exercise altogether by using the measurement of the bar speed and work to understand the force production.
Beasts tracks your improvement and helps you train better. Moreover, it gives you an overview of all workout data, keeping a diary of your performance.
Vivosmart 3 takes across all the features of its predecessors (apart from GPS), but adds more sophisticated fitness tracking tools such as VO2 max and fitness age, all day stress tracking, and the ability to count reps and sets in the gym.
Thanks to Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate technology, you still get 24/7 heart rate monitoring, and the wearable automatically tracks activity including steps, floors climbed, calories burned, intensity minutes, sleep and more. It also features smart notifications to keep you connected while on the go.
As part of that 24/7 monitoring, when users are not on the move the device will now measure heart-rate variability which it uses to calculate and measure stress levels. To make you worry-free, you will get relaxing mindfulness experiences through deep-breathing sessions. A longer timeline of stress levels is accessible on the smartphone app.
This fitness tracker aims to teach you the concepts of a healthy life. The truly novel feature of the Moov is real-time coaching feedback in a wide variety of exercise programs. At the moment, the Moov is pretty much out on its own for what it can do. The device tracks your movements in 3D, analyzes them and gives you a comprehensive report on how you are doing, after, as well as during the workout.
The original model was meant to be worn only during workouts so was not ment to be used as a standard activity tracker – in contrast, the Moov Now is designed for all-day use. The Moov Now will measure your activity level and active time, in addition to automatically tracking your sleep at night.
Apple Watch Series 2
The Apple Watch Series 2 delivers solid improvements over its predecessor, including water proofing up to 50 metres, on-board GPS, a 50% faster Duel-Core processor, a better display and a few other updates.
The big news is that the watch is now water resistant up to 50 metres and can be used for monitoring open and pool water swimming. The company has developed all-new algorithms to count laps, track average lap pace and auto-detect stroke type to measure active calorie burn.
Apple has attempted to make the watch a more serious rival to Garmin and Polar this time around by including built-in GPS. This means the watch will record precise distance, pace and speed for outdoor workouts such as walking, running or cycling, without needing an iPhone.
The device offers so many other things in addition to being a fitness tracker, its health and fitness features should be viewed as a bonus rather than the main reason for purchase. As a fully featured smartwatch, there are few wearables on the market today that can rival Apple.
When you think of fitness trackers, Skulpt products don’t readily come to mind. That’s because they’re a different breed, that measure metrics that you wouldn’t normally measure with more ‘traditional’ activity devices. Rather than monitoring daily activities, such as steps taken and distance traveled, the Skulpt Chisel measures muscle quality and body fat percentage.
The device is simple to use and allows you to measure and track 24 individual muscles. Chisel also shows you how your body is changing over time and is a great way to track progress, even when it seems there is none. Also, a much better measurement than BMI or weight. Serious workout enthusiasts and personal trainers will adore this device.
The Chisel will give you greater insight and will enable you to monitor the result of your fitness achievements. This will help you to better understand when you are losing fat and gaining muscle – and which muscles you need to focus on. As you can tell, we are very excited where this technology will lead us, and are looking forward to further innovative products in this area.
The French company’s fourth generation scale, Withings Body, measures weight and BMI, along with fat mass, muscle mass, water and bone mass. The scale has multi-user support and recognition, a free Health Mate app and syncs to the Withings Health Cloud. It also has both iOS and Android compatibility.
This scale simply does the job. Having one of these devices in the bathroom means you can make them part of your morning ritual, allowing you to track your weight every day, at roughly the same time, in the same state of undress, with no hassle. Once you’ve got it configured for your wireless network and set up the users, it just goes about its work reliably and quietly enough.
The Patented Position Control Technology delivers highly-precise measurements accurate to .2 pounds. The fat % monitoring and other metrics can sometimes vary, but this is the case with all such scales on the market. There are few truly accurate ways of fat percentage monitoring outside clinics/hospitals where you are submersed in water!
If you love gadgets and find tracking your weight useful to help you diet or maintain a healthy weight, you won’t go wrong with the Withings Body scale.
Instead of the Body scale, you can opt for the slightly more expensive Body Cardio. As the name implies, the main difference is that this one has built-in heart monitoring. It tracks your standing heart rate and an exclusive new measurement – Pulse Wave Velocity.
With every beat the heart generates a wave that propagates along the arteries. The propagation speed of this wave is directly linked to the health of your arteries. Faster speeds indicate stiffer arteries, which increase the risk of developing hypertension or cardiovascular disease. Each weigh-in will provide a pulse wave velocity reading and assessment within the Health Mate app. Taking age into account, the app will then inform as to whether it is optimal or not, and provide tips to improve it.
Omron 10 blood pressure monitor
Those looking for bells and whistles may be disappointed – and with a bulky, clunky-looking design, the BP786 cannot compete aesthetically with the sleek, smaller, wearable BP monitors.
But overall, the Omron is a reliable, simple “does what it says on the tin” device. The high accuracy, reliability, and lower price compared to many of the other smart blood pressure monitors on the market today, would make this our device of choice.
Beddit turns your bed into a smart bed and gives you insight into your sleep. Utilising Bluetooth 4.0 and Apple iBeacon it enables totally automated sleep measurement for iOS devices including the Apple Watch.
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The device uses ballistocardiography, through an ultra-thin force-sensing strip, to measure nighttime activity without any wearable sensors. You put the sensor under your bed sheet and sleep on it – and check your sleep data from your smart phone or from the Beddit web app daily, weekly or what ever fits you best.
Beddit Smart tracks your sleep time, sleeping patterns, resting heart rate, breathing frequency and snoring time. Utilising your sleep data and personal details set on your profile Beddit Smart coaches you towards better sleep and healthier life.
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