The fight for your wrist space is heating up. The latest generation of fitness wearables offers a wide range of different features to choose from at very reasonable prices. With so many new and improved fitness trackers on the market, choosing the best one can be difficult. The right activity tracker 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.
The global market for wearables is showing impressive growth. The latest International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker report shows a 200% year-on-year increase in total shipment volume of wearables for Q3, to 21.0 million units.
With CES 2016 just around the corner, we will soon find out what exciting new features manufacturers have in store for us for this year. Fitbit CEO James Park will kick off press day at CES Tuesday where he is expected to unveil Fitbit’s latest activity trackers. We expect the focus to be on better interpretation of data, and new sensors to read for example blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation and stress levels.
Wearables on the market today are “fairly basic” according to IDC, with fitness devices leading the way and smartwatches following. This is, however, set for a big change.
“Smarter clothing, eyewear, and even hearables are all in their early stages of mass adoption,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC.
“Though at present these may not be significantly smarter than their analogue counterparts, the next generation of wearables are on track to offer vastly improved experiences and perhaps even augment human abilities.”
“The smartwatch we have today will look nothing like the smartwatch we will see in the future. Cellular connectivity, health sensors, not to mention the explosive third-party application market all stand to change the game and will raise both the appeal and value of the market going forward.”
But what about the past year? What was the best fitness tracker of 2015?
To find out what you think, we ran a poll during the month of December asking our readers one simple question: What is your favourite fitness tracker?
Many devices featured in the results showing the wide range of opinion. The trackers which received votes but did not make the top five included Basis Peak, Microsoft Band 2, Apple Watch, Misfit Shine 2, Sony Smartband 2, Withings Activite and Mio Alpha 2.
These were your top 5.
1st place: Fitbit Charge HR – 20% of votes
Fitbit Charge HR is your overall pick. Its not really surprising – the IDC report mentioned above shows that Fitbit has a sizeable lead in global sales with some 4.9 million devices shipped during Q3 – ahead of 3.9 million Apple Watch shipments.
This is a fitness tracker that contains a 3-axis accelerometer, altimeter and heart rate monitor. Its heart rate tracking is continuous and accurate – as are the other metrics it churns out. The overall look of the Charge is impressively sleek. It is discreet and the textured rubber looks smart. The screen has a monochrome OLED display, and it is really vibrant and easy to read, despite being roughly the size of a fingernail.
In a recent interview with Time Magazine, Fitbit CEO James Park spoke on how he sees the future of the company. He also revealed some features that may be coming to our wrists in the near future.
“We’re definitely going to be releasing devices with advanced sensors that help people track not only more accurate metrics on what we’re doing today, but additional metrics as well,” says Park.
“I can’t talk specifically, but things people are going to be interested in in the future are blood pressure, or stress, or more stats about their athletic performance. Those are all things that we’re working on and we’ll continue to release over time.”
Exciting stuff. We will be looking forward to these updates – when and if they come.
Fitbit likes to think of the Charge 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. The Fitbit Charge HR is a powerful training tool for a good price.
2nd place: Polar A360 – 14% of votes
The A360 is Polar’s first attempt at competing head-to-head against mainstream premium fitness trackers. The device includes activity tracking, but with the inclusion of optical heart rate and training options, is a fully featured fitness tracker.
The A360 has a very stylish design. Clearly much thought has been put into making the device attractive. The wide-viewing angle full colour TFT display with capacitive touchscreen is crisp and vivid, and easily viewable in bright daylight. The A360 automatically tracks steps, calories burned, distance, and sleep based on your movements. It cleverly knows when you’re lying down, sitting, standing, walking and running and can pick up on various sports and other calorie burning activities. It also helps with motivating feedback and individual guidance.
The Polar A360 is a well designed 24/7 fitness tracker that is popular with people looking for a convenient, yet stylish, way to quantify and track their daily activity. The wearable allows for easy transitioning into training sessions, has a very good battery life, is water-resistant and provides motivational feedback. Those who regularly go to the gym, or enjoy activites such as swimming, running and cycling will enjoy the A360.
3rd place: Garmin Vivosmart HR – 13% of votes
Garmin has joined the crowded market of wrist based HR fitness trackers with its latest addition – the Vivosmart HR. Launched in late 2015, Vivosmart HR features a crisp new screen, a heart rate monitor, activity and sleep tracking and smart notifications.
The new device goes further than the Swiss company’s previous fitness bands in that it includes for the first time an internal optical HR sensor, 24×7 heart rate recording (continual resting HR, and average resting HR based on a 7 day rolling average), barometer to count stairs and intensity minutes. As was the case with the first generation device, the Vivosmart HR is water resistant up to 50 metres.
The Vivosmart HR features a rechargeable lithium battery. The 5 day battery life is fine compared to the direct competition, although it is slightly lower than the 7 days offered by the original Vivosmart tracker. All in all, this is a fully featured comprehensive fitness tracker which churns out fairly accurate data.
4th place: Jawbone UP3 – 12% of votes
The UP3 is loaded with state-of-the-art sensors that give you a better understanding of your health and fitness. Like all bands, Jawbone UP3 measures the steps you take, and like some, monitors the quality of your sleep. It has a sparkling new design and is astonishingly light.
While most other fitness trackers display raw figures and leave it at that, the UP will provide you with tips throughout the day on how to improve your health and fitness. We like the advanced sleep tracking and the ability to automaticaly recognise when you fall asleep. The ability to periodically check on your heart rate throughout the day in addition to viewing you resting heart rate, is definitely a welcome addition to its wide range of features.
5th place: Moov Now – 10% of votes
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, 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.
In an ever-expanding market, wearables manufactures are increasingly looking to go beyond just displaying health metrics in order to provide much more meaningful analysis of our vitals data. This will only increase in the coming years.