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Fitness Tracker Watches: 3 to Consider

By Matt McMillenApril 02, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

We’ve long since lost count of all the fitness trackers on the market today, and the more that arrive, the tougher it is to decide which one’s right for you. And now, we’ve got fitness tracker watches to keep up with as well. In the run up to the release of the Apple Watch later this month, we thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some of the other fitness tracker watches already on the market. Here are a few recent releases that caught our eye and what the reviews say about them.

The Fitbit Surge President Obama wears one. Should you? The $ 250 wrist-worn Surge offers GPS and a constant heart rate monitor, and Engadget’s Terrence O’Brien says it improves on the food and sleep tracking capabilities of earlier Fitbit trackers. However, he didn’t want to wear it all day: “It’s really best suited as a running watch rather than an all-day activity tracker,” he writes. “If you’re willing to sacrifice some style and comfort in the name of best-in-class step counting and sleep tracking, then the Surge’s shortcomings aren’t deal breakers.” Samuel Gibbs of the Guardian, who awarded the Surge 3 of 5 stars, found the heart rate monitor inconsistent and data analysis lacking.

Garmin Vivoactive For the same $ 250 as the Surge, this watch comes loaded with GPS but its heart rate monitor will cost extra. You’ll need to buy an optional chest strap. The likely plus side: chest monitors may be more accurate. Like the Surge, the Vivoactive alerts you to incoming phone calls and texts. But it goes a few steps further with Facebook and Twitter notifications. The Vivoactive tracks swimming and golfing in addition to the usual fitness tracker features. And Valentina Palladino at Tom’s Guide found it much more comfortable: “the Garmin makes the $249 Fitbit Surge feel clunky by comparison.” James Stables at Wareable lamented its poor sleep tracking capabilities and hated the design: “no-one wants to be seen out in the evening with the Vivoactive on their arm.” That did not change his overall verdict: “Up until the Garmin Vivoactive, the perfect fitness device for the truly active person was a pipe dream.”

The Withings Activité and Activité Pop At $ 450 and $ 150, respectively, these two semi-smart analog watches offer the same features but different packaging. The pricier Activitéboasts Swiss manufacture, leather band, and scratch-proof glass, among other amenities. In black or brown, it’s sedate and refined. The Pop, on the other hand, pops with color. And neither of them looks like a fitness tracker. One hand on the watch face moves from 0 to 100% as you near your day’s activity goal; otherwise, all displays, activity and sleep data, and other details get funneled via Bluetooth to the paired Health Mate app on your smartphone (iOS and, now, Android). ”Health Mate isn’t a terribly beautiful or intuitive app,” writes David Pierce of the Verge, “but it does everything it needs to, and it’s getting better all the time.” Luke Johnson of Trusted Reviews calls the Pop “one of the most well-rounded and visually appealing wearables on the market.” Jill Duffy at PCMag was less impressed. Her conclusion: The Pop “is a watch first and activity tracker second.”

Are you looking at buying a fitness tracker watch? What features are you most interested in?

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