Every year, the fitness band market is introduced to more stylish, more powerful and more feature-packed fitness trackers with the promise of helping you live a more active, healthier lifestyle. While most of which can do a pretty good job at the basics of tracking, we're only interested in the best, and you should be too.
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Fitbit's Charge 2 is the company's smarter mid-range fitness tracker, fulfilling a wide array of tasks and exercises. It can monitor running, cycling, a general workout, weights, elliptical and more, making it a more advanced tracker than some devices at cheaper price points, while it also has a five day battery life. While the Fitbit app remains easy to use, one issue with the Charge 2 is the slightly tricky navigation, requiring multiple clicks or longer pushes of the touchscreen to change actions, or to initiate a stopwatch. Again it lacks full waterproofing, but with a heart rate monitor and GPS if you connect through a smartphone it is packed with features.
Garmin's fitness trackers are considered to be for more serious athletes than some other brands of fitness tracker. This can be seen from the complexity of Garmin's Connect app and the variables monitored by its fitness tracker range. The Vivosmart 3 is waterproof for swimming and showering, while it also has a rep counter for use during strength exercises. Other features include a heart rate monitor and music controls for your smartphone. The battery life is five days, but it does lack a GPS compared to more expensive models and Garmin's app is considered a little harder to navigate. With the price now below £100, it's a bargain. If you are willing to spend a little more, the Vivosmart HR+ offers a built-in GPS for serious runners.
Fitbit's latest line of sports watches takes its technology a step further, with the Fitbit Ionic truly embracing smartwatch technology with its own payments system, and smartwatch functions from calls, texts, emails and Whatsapp messages on the go. With around four days of battery life it will also easily outlast most smartwatches. It's also still a phenomenal fitness tracker, combining Fitbit's simple app with an exercise coach, timers for running, a heart rate monitor, and built-in capabilities for music storage. It can also connect via Bluetooth to the new Fitbit Flyer headphones, which can be used on the go so you can take your music with you when exercising. It's Fitbit's most advanced tracker yet
The Fitbit Blaze costs just $20 more than the Fitbit Charge 2, yet offers a larger, more colorful display and guided on-screen workouts. You can also swap out its band, and the Blaze lasts a good week before needing to be recharged. At $149, it's definitely worth considering.
Samsung's Gear Fit2 is among the most well-rounded fitness trackers available in terms of the sheer amount of features it offers. The Gear Fit2 includes integrated GPS, a heart rate monitor, water resistance, automatic exercise recognition for certain workouts, sleep tracking, and basic all-day activity monitoring (steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled, floors climbed). The interface shown on the Fit2's colorful touchscreen displays a trove of comprehensive data about individual workouts. When reviewing insights from a previous run, for example, I was able to see how close I was to my goal, a graph that showed how my heart rate correlated with my speed, my minimum and maximum heart rate, and more.
Garmin's Vivoactive HR is a versatile sports watch with built-in GPS ideal for athletes interested in tracking specific activities. In addition to monitoring all-day movements, gathering heart rate data, and logging regular workouts, the Vivoactive HR offers specific metrics for a range of sports. These include swimming, skiing, rowing, and even golfing, in addition to more common activities like walking and running. For swimmers, the Vivoactive HR can count and track different kinds of strokes. Skiiers, meanwhile, can use the band to measure their speed and distance. It's also advertised to last for eight days on a single charge when not using the GPS, which is about a day longer than Fitbit claims for the Surge.
Garmin's professional-looking line of sports watches delivers detailed levels of tracking and monitoring for a premium price. At more than £250 it is not a cheap sports band, rather the Garmin Forerunner 235 is a watch for athletes who want more than a bit of encouragement to keep active. With heart rate monitoring, a built-in GPS and waterproof up to depths of 50 metres, the Forerunner is a serious fitness device. While it is not a true smartwatch, lacking support for extra apps, it can answer calls and allow you to read emails and texts and has a customisable watch face.
The TomTom Spark 3 offers a lot of great features for your wrist, including music without your phone. You can upload music directly to the TomTom Spark 3, so you won't need to take your phone out with your Bluetooth headphones while on a run. Plus on top of that, the Spark 3 offers up GPS tracking, a heart rate monitor and route navigation, making this the perfect wrist companion to wear while running around areas you don't really know and discovering new places.
The Moov Now is a great little activity band with a slim design that can be attached to your wrists or ankles for versatile analysis. It can measure a wide range of motions, from running to cycling, swimming to boxing, and its app can pick up on these movements and generate more accurate data than some other trackers. It is fairly small, although as a pure activity band it is not made to be worn all the time and lacks function like a heart rate monitor, but it does support sleep tracking. It is also cheap too and you can buy one for under £60. However don't go expecting any kind of wristwatch replacement on the device, as it's purely about fitness.
Finding a fitness tracker with built-in GPS and continuous heart rate-monitoring for less than $100 is like discovering a unicorn, but that's what Huawei is promising with its new Band 2 Pro. The swimproof $70 device, now available on Amazon, also offers sleep-tracking, personalized training coach and stress-reducing breathing exercises, in addition to notifications from your smartphone. With 7-day battery life, this device might just be the perfect fitness tracker.
Misfit's sleek Ray fitness band is a unique piece. The sleek metal tube can be worn as an accessory on a chain or around your neck, or as a classic fitness band. A coloured LED shows your daily progress and the Ray app can log distance, steps, sleep and is waterproof at depths of up to 50 metres. Once connected to your smartphone, it can also vibrate to show calls and texts, however there is no built-in screen or watch. The Ray is available for under £50 from Misfit.
The Apple Watch Series 3 is the culmination of Apple's recent advancements in smartwatch technology. It's also one of the top fitness gadgets out there, useful for running, swimming and health tracking. It can monitor a huge range of exercises with watchOS4, comes with a heart rate monitor, and will soon be able to plug in to a variety of gym equipment, logging your data as you go. It's also first and foremost a smartwatch. It can take emails and text messages, and can now operate using its own 4G and mobile signal
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