Soon we’re going to be buried under a deluge of smartwatches from the likes of Google, Motorola, LG, Samsung (though that one’s started already – go Tizen, you can do it!) and probably Apple. These wearables are going to tear a meaty chunk of of the fitness wearables market and swallow it whole, since they’re going to include many of the features of the dedicated fitness wrist adornments from the start.
But that is not this day, which is why we’re peering into your options when it comes to getting off the couch and moving around at speeds that cannot be described as sloth-like – which is unfortunately our favourite speed.
What are your choices with regards to arm-based fitness (as opposed to ARM-based, which is when Qualcomm starts giving us mortals cybernetic upgrades)? You’ll find them below.
- FitBit’s Flex has been a firm favourite in the Stuff offices for the past year or so, being responsible for getting the majority of the team moving in a variety of interesting ways. Its simplicity, a fantastic free app and a whole collection of other tracking options available (if you’re willing to shell out some extra cash for FitBit Premium) makes it a good choice for someone just starting in the smart fitness tracking scenario. Plus it scales well.
Ups and Downs
The Flex has its faults though. Stuff had a couple of them die on us and the five-day or so battery life means it’s a chore to keep charged. Not impossible and nowhere as annoying as charging a smartphone daily but we’ve never had the best memories.
The minimalist interface (i.e there isn’t one) means that you’re going to be doing most of your updating in the Android/iOS app or via the FitBit website. Android access is restricted to certain devices but the Bluetooth dongle will make short work of any app woes you might have. Desktops FTW.
Tracking your sleep patterns, calorie and fluid intake in addition to steps taken and Active Minutes are all in a day’s work for the Flex. Will it make you faster? No, but it will tell you when you’re being slothful and should prompt you to make those changes you’ve always been meaning to.
From R1,400 | FitBit
- It’s no secret that Stuff was quite taken with Jawbone’s UP24, which features some of the most effective app integration that we’ve ever seen. It has a specific feature for logging your coffee intake for the day, something that we usually do by tapping a vein and seeing how brown it is, as well as a smart alarm, with step, distance and goal tracking metrics being supported by the UP24 app.
On the UP
There’s very little negative that we can say about the UP24. The simple and study design makes it very hard to lose from your wrist, a problem that we’ve encountered with other bands. Unfortunately this does interfere with your clothing and accustomed hand gestures until you get used to it.
The battery charge lasts around a week but the UP24 has a proprietary connector tucked away in the band, a slight black mark there. Don’t lose it. That way lies sadness.
Jawbone’s UP24 is one of the slickest fitness bands we’ve had the privilege to use and while it isn’t perfect, it comes pretty darned close. To find out what we really though of our UP-time, hit up our review.
R1,900 | Jawbone
- One of the pricier offering available when it comes to wearable fitness tech, not least because it’s a right bugger to find in local stores, Nike’s Fuelband SE uses the company’s proprietary NikeFuel metric in addition to monitoring your movements. All of your movements. Don’t panic though, it’s not going to be too specific about what you were doing while wearing it.
Been there, done that, got the shoes
The Fuelband SE’s strength is its design – funky, with LEDs that give you data on steps, calories and goals. It looks like something that you’d like to have on your arm but it’s a bit expensive for what it does.
It took a while for Android to become a supported operating system, which might have delighted iOS users, but it’s finally available for a broader range of devices. The app is completely free and will do bits of what other fitness trackers do, though you’re going to have more comprehensive data with other devices.
The FitBit range, for example, offers a wider selection of functions, like identifying when you’re climbing stairs and other nifty arrangements, that the Nike+ Fuelband SE just can’t equal. Grab it if you liked the first one or if you’re planning on completing your Nike ensemble but there are better options out there.
From R2,850 (import) | Nike
- Withings has some very stylish smartwatches on the way but for a pure exercise unit, the Pulse O2 is very good option for the most part. It’s highly accurate if you’re on the road and app is decent enough, providing you with more than enough data to keep your figuring brain busy while you measure out the road with your strides
Designs on Great
The Pulse O2 comes with a heart-rate monitor, albeit one that you need to poke with your fingertip in order to get a read-out. They’ve also added O2 level tracking using the same sensor, so there’s that addition to play with but you can’t do any of this while in motion. Not twice, at any rate.
Unlike the rest of the devices featured hear, the Pulse O2 is not water resistant so we’d be hesitant about taking it out for a more creative exercise session. The wristband is also hard to read while on your arm, thanks to its orientation and the readout. If you’re going to clarity, Nike or Samsung’s options are better here.
The Pulse O2 is one of the better fitness-specific options on the market, if you can bear the niggles. If you can wait, however, then Withings’ Swiss-made Activité might be more your style.
R1,700 | Withings
- Another pricey contender for the crown prince of wrist fitness devices, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear Fit is a gorgeous-looking arm appliance with that curved OLED display that gives you your workout information. It’s quite comfy too and might be the most premium-looking of the whole lot featured here.
All good things…
The Gear Fit is more than just a fitness band though, it’s also a smartwatch with the notifications and other functions that entails. We’re not looking into those at the moment but the focus split doesn’t help the Gear Fit’s exercise cred much as it tries to be too much, too soon. The upcoming round of smartwatches from just about everybody, on the other hand…
Samsung have included a heart-rate monitor into this band, which is a plus, but it’s often inaccurate, which isn’t. The Gear Fit uses a custom operating system which has limited app support and its overall design limits it to Samsung-branded Android 4.3 or better handsets in terms of compatibility. Boo.
Even so it gets the job done when it comes to tracking your workout, integrating nicely with Samsung’s S Health app and giving you details on those delicious calories and time spent in motion. Plus it’s a smartwatch but we’d have preferred something a bit more streamlined this time around.
From R3,000 | Samsung