The wearable tech industry is in the midst of an explosion right now, particularly in the area of fitness trackers. There are a plethora of offerings on the market and, much like iPhones, manufacturers are releasing a new model or variant once or twice a week or so. With that many options, choosing the right tracker for your needs can be a challenge. Here’s the rundown on four the more standout competitors.
Garmin Vivosmart HR+
Bulky and maybe a little clunky due to its large (about an inch) touch screen and its resilient rubber strap, the somewhat unaesthetic look of the HR+ belies the fact that it is a fitness-tracking powerhouse. Its features include counting your daily steps, an all-day heart rate tracker, automatic sleep tracker, and keeps track of stairs climbed, calories burned, active minutes and distance traveled while also offering music controls, weather updates and notifications (when linked to your smartphone).Some of its more specific features include setting automatic goals for your daily steps walked. It also shows a Move bar on the home screen; the longer you are sedentary, the more the bar fills. When the bar reaches capacity, the only way to clear it is to spend a few minutes in continuous, purposeful exercise.Sport tracking functions leave a little to be desired. You’ll have the choice between run, cardio and other; that’s it. The run tracker will measure your pace, distance traveled, calories burned, and time spent. The other two provide time, heart beats per minute, and calories burned. There’s no specific swimming setting, but the HR+ is water resistant to about 50 meters.The six-day battery life means you’ll spend less time charging and more time exercising. When you do, you can link the HR+ to the Garmin Connect app to receive more in-depth data about your workouts.
Fitbit Charge 2
With its well integrated, inch-and-a-half OLED touch screen and stylish, swappable straps, the Charge 2 is as sleek as it is functional. It comes with the standard daily stat tracking (steps taken, floors climbed, heart rate monitor, distance traveled, calories burned, stairs climbed, minutes spent active and asleep) as well as modes and functions like a clock, stopwatch, relaxation timer and silent alarms. It has no GPS of its own, but can be linked to your smart phone’s, and it can also deliver the typical phone-related notifications and sundries.One of the Charge 2’s notable features is its breathing coach—presumably for those of us who, like Bill Clinton, still haven’t quite gotten the hang of inhaling. But in all seriousness, these exercises are designed to reduce stress, anxiety, and blood pressure. All of these aspects make this function an important addition to the fitness buff’s toolkit. Equally informative is the VO2 Max mesurement. VO2 Max is a metric of how efficiently your body is able to utilize oxygen whilst exercising. As this score increases along with your aerobic efficiency, it makes for an excellent indicator of personal fitness. Sadly, the Charge is not waterproof, so swimmers will have to look elsewhere—like below.
TomTom Spark 3
The Spark 3 comes with seven sports modes, a stopwatch and the activity and sleep tracking that we’ve come to expect from a fitness device. However, it’s waterproof and one of those sport modes is a swim tracker, which gives it an edge over other trackers for more aquatically inclined athletes and exercise enthusiasts. With physical buttons rather than a touchscreen and a monochrome display, the Spark 3 is not the flashiest tracker on the market. It does, however, offer some unique perks.In this model, TomTom’s included a compass to complement the new route exploration feature. This function maps the route of your run and shows it on screen, making it easier to find your way home again after you go out ranging. You can also upload routes from the web, but either way, you never have to worry about getting lost if you strike out for unknown territory.Finally, the Spark 3 has an integrated music player and storage space. While the internal speakers are somewhat (and unsurprisingly) lacking, it is Bluetooth capable, so you can link up a pair of headphones. Finally, runners need not lug their phones around with them anymore.
Withings Steel HR
The Steel HR’s main draw is its style: it looks like a classy analog watch, with its fitness-tracking functionality betrayed only by a small digital screen and analog step counter. It’s a tracker you can wear all day, and look good doing it, without anyone else being the wiser. Featuring the normal capabilities and automatic activity tracking, the Steel HR is a relatively standard fitness tracker; the bells and whistles here are all in the elegant, covert appearance.There you have them—four of the best functioning, most reliable, and perk-laden fitness trackers on the market today. Regardless of which you choose, you’ll be on the road to healthier lifestyle, and you’ll have the raw data to prove it.