7 February 2015

All right…so I’ve tried a bunch of different wearable tech to track steps and the like. So which did I think was the best?

It depends.

Both Garmin and Fitbit make good, accurate step counters. From there, it’s a matter of what else you want the device to do for you.

Fitbit One: it’s basically just a pedometer, but it also gives you the time, floors climbed, calories burned, distance covered, and activity level. You can clip it to your waistband, bra, or stick it in your pocket. Press a button and you can see what you’ve done for the day. It's simple and it works.

Fitbit Flex: pretty much like the One, except you wear it on your wrist and—as far as I know—you have to synch it to your computer or phone to see how many steps you’ve taken. That part never appealed to me so I never tried it. I want to be able to check where I'm at without using the phone or computer.

Fitbit Charge: does everything the One does, but you wear it on your wrist. It’s a good watch substitute, and you can see your data with a press of a button or tapping it twice. When you hit your step goal for the day, it vibrates. I used it for a while and found it to be pretty accurate.

Fitbit Charge HR: It’s the Charge with a heart rate monitor in it. No personal experience with it, but for someone active who wants to track HR while working out, it seems like a good deal.

Fitbit Surge: this is a powerhouse tech device. It looks like a watch and has a subdued clockface with a subtle backlight when tapped once (which is great for the middle of the night.) Aside from steps counted and all the other above things, it has GPS (I didn’t get around to testing that; I hear it works well but is a huge battery drain), and can be used to track several other exercises, including distance done on a treadmill. It also has a heart rate monitor. I really liked it, but had some issues, and a friend developed a rash and felt the HR monitor was wildly inaccurate. It’s supposed to also give you incoming text and phone notifications when paired with your phone, but it would not stay connected to my phone and the vibration intensity is so weak I couldn’t really feel it, so that was useless to me.

Garmin Vivofit: It’s a lot like the Fitbit One, but worn on your wrist. There’s no backlight, so you can’t see it in the dark…which doesn’t matter unless you also wear it at night and want to use it as a watch. The bonus with this one—the battery lasts for a year. Not having to charge it every 5-7 days gives it major points.

Garmin Vivosmart: worn on the wrist, it tracks steps, calories, and distance, and has a watch function. It looks like a plain band but turns on with two taps to its face, and also does text and call notifications, and the vibration intensity is very good. It’s also quite accurate.

Now, the thing with all the ones worn on the wrist are that they fail to count steps if you’re holding onto something that causes your arm to not move—like a shopping cart or if you’re wearing a backpack and holding onto the strap. Grocery shop for an hour and you can miss a lot of steps.

For me…I like the Fitbit One for ease of use. It’s simple and does what I need it to do, which is count my steps. But for getting text notifications, I also wear the Garmin Vivosmart band, because I can’t hear my phone in my pocket.

I’ve tried all but the Flex (and Charge HR, but it’s pretty much the same as the Charge.)

For someone wanting text and phone notifications, the Garmin Vivosmart works best.

If I didn’t need the notifications, I would go with the Fitbit One for accuracy and versatility (pocket or waistband or bra), or the Charge if a wristband is preferred. (The only reason the Charge is above the Vivofit on my list is being able to see it in the dark. They’re both excellent. The battery life on the Vivofit makes it a strong contender.)

So...the Fitbit One comes out on top for me After that (presuming one doesn't need text notifications), the Charge, the Vivofit, and the Surge is pretty much last until they work the kinks out of it.

Bonus...the Fitbit One is the least expensive out of those, too.


Sasha + Saku said...

Thanks for the information! I've recently purchased a cheapo pedometer and I'm certain it's pretty inaccurate. I'll have to check to see if I can find the Fitbit One since all I'm really interested in is the steps. Connecting anything to my cellphone is beyond my technical capabilities!

Anonymous said...

The Fitbit Flex measures how much your arm moves. So if you sit at the kitchen table and eat a lot of ice cream (moving your arm as you bring the spoon to your mouth each time), it records that you have taken a lot of steps.

Anonymous said...

@Eileen - the Fitbit line is available at most Target stores. I have a Fitbit one and love it. I think Amazon also sells them.