Buying a fitness tracker can be difficult.
On the surface, it seems like they all do the exact same thing: count your calories, measure how far you’ve run, and monitor your sleep. But there are a few areas where some fitness bands succeed over others.
Here’s a look at some of the best ones you can buy today and how they compare.
The Basis Peak offers some functionality you'd get with a smartwatch, such as caller ID and text messages, but it's prominently a fitness tracker.
The Peak can count your calories, how many steps you've taken, and measure your heart rate, but where it really shines is the sleep tracking department. The Basis Peak can tell you how much time you spent in REM sleep, deep sleep, and light sleep in addition to showing you how long you slept, when you woke up, and how many times you tossed and turned. That's more data about your sleep cycle than you'd get with most competitors.
Jawbone's UP24 is slimmer and sleeker than all of its competitors. However, you'll have to sacrifice the ability to glance down at your wrist to view how many calories you've burned or the time since it doesn't have a screen. Jawbone's fitness band collects a lot of the same data as it's competitors (i.e. sleep tracking, calories burned, distance run), but it's food logging system makes it stand out.
Jawbone includes a large database of local restaurants so you can just tap the meal you ate to log it. It also includes common pairings (i.e. bacon and eggs) so that you don't have to log foods separately.
If you're looking for a good fitness tracker with a screen that's more affordable than the Peak, try the Fitbit Charge. It's comfortable to wear throughout the day, and its app is easy to use since most of the information you need is visible from the dashboard.
The one metric you can get through the Fitbit that you can't with other fitness trackers is how many flights of stairs you've climbed. The Charge also has a caller ID function that shows you when you're getting an incoming call. But, it's food logging system isn't as seamless as Jawbone's and it can't measure your heart rate like the Basis Peak. Basis' tracker also gives you more information about your sleep cycle than the Charge.
The Misfit Flash is an attractive, super cheap fitness tracker that you can either clip on your clothing or wear as a wristband. It doesn't do quite as much as its more expensive competitors (i.e. no heart rate monitor, doesn't count flights of stairs, doesn't come with a screen for showing calories, etc.), but it will still keep track of distance, calories burned, and sleep. The token-shaped device uses flashing lights that form to complete a circle to show your progress throughout the day.
The real kicker is that the battery lasts for six months since it uses a standard watch battery, so you'll never have to charge it.
Like the Misfit Flash, Jawbone's Up Move tracks steps, calories burned, distance, and sleep, and can be worn on the wrist or clipped on you your clothing. Both trackers are water resistant and can last for six months on a single charge.
The biggest difference, however, is that Jawbone's app offers a but more information and insight that Misfit's. The app for Misfit's products can connect to MyFitnessPal, but doesn't have a large ecosystem and can't offer daily tips like Jawbone's does.
You can set the Nike Fuelband SE so that it nags you to get up and move around a bit every hour, which can be useful if you work long hours at a sedentary job.
One thing that also sets the Fuelband apart is that it can connect to your Facebook friends list, so that you can see how you compare to other Fuelband wearers (don't worry, it's optimal). Nike's app also lets you separate your friends into groups, which is a welcome feature you can't get with other fitness apps.
Based on reviews, however, it seems like the biggest drawback to the Nike Fuelband is its limited sleep tracking capabilities.
The Withings Pulse O2 has a larger screen, which makes it useful as a watch, while also offering some health data that's slightly more advanced than what you'd get with competitors. For example, it can measure your blood oxygen levels and heart rate in addition to counting your steps, elevation, calories burned, and monitoring your sleep.
You can pop the tiny display out of the band and wear it as a clip-on, too. Withings' HealthMate app has been well recieved in reviews as well, and it offers real-time feedback on the next steps you should take whenever you reach a goal. Similar to Jawbone's app, HealthMate pings you with healthy reminders throughout the day, too.
Sadly, however, it's not water-resistant, so be careful about getting it wet.
The Garmin Vivosmart maintains the slim, discrete form factor of a fitness band while also offering the same notifications as a smartwatch. Its 'move bar' also prompts you to get up and walk around if you've been sitting around for too long, similar to the Nike Fuelband.
The downside, however, is that while you can view text messages, emails, and call alerts on your wrist, you can't actually interact with them on the band.
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