The festive season is behind us and it’s time to get moving to burn off the indulgence of the celebrations. Thankfully, technology is here to help and fitness trackers are better, cheaper and more abundant than ever.
Here’s our quick guide to the best of the bunch for the start of the new year.
Jawbone Up Move
The Up Move is the low-cost fitness tracker from Jawbone, makers of the popular Up band. The Move is a small square button-shaped tracker that counts activity, steps and sleep using an accelerometer.
It uses a coin cell battery, lasting for around six months per battery. Swapping out the battery is easy using the small screw-on door at the back and saves having to charge it every five days or so.
The Move is water resistant, but not water proof, has an LED display to show activity progress and syncs via Bluetooth to an Android or iPhone. The Jawbone Up app is one of the best available with useful graphs and suggestions for improving sleep, activity and general health.
It comes with a belt clip but wristbands are available in a variety of colours.
Verdict: cheap and cheerful with a good app but an ugly device
The Misfit Flash is the follow up to the great Shine fitness tracker that packs all the same features into a cheaper, plastic body.
The Flash is waterproof, unlike the Move, and can track activity, sleep and steps using an accelerometer. It can be worn almost anywhere, including while swimming, and like the Move is powered by a coin cell battery lasting around six months per cell.
The Flash comes with a comfortable wristband and belt clip, while clothing such as cycling socks with small pockets for the Flash are available. It can also be used as a watch to tell the time using a hidden ring of LED lights that also show your activity progress through the day.
The small device is about the size of a pound coin and syncs via Bluetooth to an iPhone or Android device. The Misfit app shows hours of light and deep sleep, calories burned and steps taken, but can output the data to a variety of fitness services including RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal.
Verdict: waterproof, attractive and lasts six months per battery
The Fitbit Charge is a chunky wristband fitness tracker with a rechargeable battery that lasts around a week and is charged via a magnetic cable from any standard USB charger.
Like most other fitness gadgets it tracks activity, steps, calories burned and hours slept using an accelerometer. It also has an altimeter that tracks the number of stairs climbed and a silent vibrating alarm for waking you up.Advertisement
It has a small screen that displays the time and fitness stats, activated by a small button on the side of the band. The screen can also show caller ID notifications from a smartphone syncing via Bluetooth. The Fitbit app is available for Android, iPhone and Windows Phone and can export data to a number of third-party services.
The button clasp on the band can be difficult to shut, but stays closed even with vigorous activity. The band is comfortable to wear, but bulky on the wrist and struggled to fit under a shirt cuff.
The Charge is water proof to 1m, which means it will be fine in the shower but not while swimming.
Verdict: screen is useful, but basic, bulky and needs charging once a week
The Up24 is Jawbone’s more sophisticated wristband fitness tracker. Like the Up Move it tracks steps, activity and sleep using an accelerometer.
But the Up24 also has a silent alarm that can be set to wake you up at the best time for your sleep pattern in the morning, within 30 minutes of your ideal wakeup time, to help you feel refreshed.
The band is charged via a USB cable and will last around two weeks per charge. The Up24 has no screen, but has a button on the end and two icons that show tracking of sleep or activity, which the user has to manually switch between.Advertisement
The Jawbone syncs to the Up app on an Android or iPhone via Bluetooth and gives activity and health advice for better sleep and general fitness. The Up24 is water-resistant, but can’t be taken in the shower.
Verdict: two-week battery life and solid fitness tracking with useful app
Sony Smartband Talk
The Sony Smartband Talk is a cross between a smartwatch and a fitness band. It tracks steps and calories burned, but not sleep, using an accelerometer.
It connects via Bluetooth to a Android phone and Sony’s Lifelog app that tracks activity but also what music you listen to, who you spoke to and other “life events”.
The Talk has an e-ink screen like an e-reader, which displays the time, activity and can be used for alarms and smartphone notifications such as emails, texts and WhatsApp messages.
It can also make and take calls using a built-in microphone and speaker like a Bluetooth headset on the wrist. The microphone is sensitive enough that the band doesn’t have to be held close to the face to continue the conversation.
The Smartband Talk is waterproof to 1.5m for 30 minutes, fine for a shower or in the rain but not for swimming. It’s charged by a standard microUSB cable and lasts around three days between charges.Advertisement
Verdict: a fitness band turned simple smartwatch but only for Android phones
The Basis Peak is the latest fitness tracking watch from Intel. Unlike the others in this group it has a heart rate monitor as well as galvanic skin sensors for measuring temperature and sweat, and an accelerometer for general activity.
It constantly measures heart rate for around four and a half days between charges using a little magnetic USB charging dock.
The screen is constantly on simply displaying time unless you are walking or running, at which point is displays distance and heart rate or other information appropriate for the activity. The screen has a small backlight for reading at night.
Sleep monitoring with heart rate also allows the Peak to track sleep quality instead of just how long you slept – a big step forward in sleep tracking. It can tell which phase of sleep you’re in between light, deep and REM sleep.
The Peak promises to perform smartwatch duties after a firmware update, but right now it feels slightly unfinished. The Android or iPhone app is also confusing, but the data is accessible from the easy to use Basis website.