Wearables got everywhere in 2015, as was expected from the wrist-based computing tech. We’ve come a long way from those massively-overpriced wrist calculator watches. Now you can get yourself a massively-overpriced wrist computer watch. And we’re okay with that.
We had a lot of wearables show up this year but South Africa is not quite as fertile ground for them as other places in the world. Still, we saw enough to pick a Top 5 wearables for 2015. Here they are.
Oddly, a review for the Apple Watch didn’t get onto Stuff‘s website this year but that’s because it took quite a while to officially enter the country. What we don’t have to say is that we dissected it to bits in the print magazine and gave it more than its fair share of space here on the web. It’s an interesting wearable, perhaps the most popular of 2015, but it’s certainly not the best. You’re paying for it because it’s made by Apple, not because it’s impressive in its own right. And that’s okay, because it does just work, as Apple might say, and it plays very nicely with their ecosystem. But we’re not about to drop R200,000 on one of the bonkers versions…
If you’re a golfer then you might want to look at the Garmin Vivoactive, an all-round fitness tracking wristband that has a whole lot of course information for those playing the Scottish game. If you’re running, biking or swimming you’re covered as well but the Vivoactive makes for a good alternative to a dedicated golfing wearable. Plus theres, you know, notifications from your phone, calendar updates and that sort of thing. The Vivoactive’s biggest fault, though? It’s not as fashionable as it could be.
Quiet, unobtrusive, and featuring one of the best companion apps we’ve ever seen is the Jawbone UP2. This simple little band hasn’t left wrists at Stuff long enough to do anything but charge it and it’s made a considerable difference to at least a life or two. But what you won’t find are additional smart features, like the ability to give you notifications or grab live info. The budget price and 10-day battery means that you’re looking at zero display and zero functionality outside the fitness tracking. Some people like that, though.
The usefulness is in the name. TomTom’s Runner Cardio is for those who are after the long-distance crown, are training for a marathon, or who have enough money to splurge on a brand new jogging habit. The end result is the same though, you’re going to be putting one of the best running-specific wristbands available onto your arm. What you do with it, that’s up to you. The Runner Cardio also comes with an integrated heart-rate monitor, which is scarily accurate. The app… could be better but with all this hardware at our disposal, it’s not a wrench.
Fitbit’s Charge HR, with its simple lines, simpler display and integrated heart-rate monitor (which gets the job done in a very accurate manner) is one of the best wearables Stuff encountered in 2015. Though it’s very fitness focused it tracks what it needs to (your standard movement metrics, plus heart rate) extremely well. There are even some basic smartphone interactions, which is unusual in a device this narrowly created. It’s not quite as voluminous in its information presentation as something like the Garmin Fenix 3 would be but this is what you get if you’re serious about your fitness but don’t want to get your own nutritionist involved.