All I really wanted to do was to track my fitness and tell the time. By fitness, I mean track my movement, steps, jogging, and casual bike riding. My quest to complete this simple goal led me to trying out many different fitness tracker devices. I’ll explain what I learned about each tracker, pros and cons, and a link to each one in case your requirements are different.
The first tracker I tried was a Fitbit. Which one? Multiple. Flex, Charge, and Blaze. They all have 5 day charging cycles and an excellent phone app to which they regularly sync.
The Fitbit Flex (now version 2) is the lowest price Fitbit option with just LED lights rather than an actual screen. The device fits into a pocket on the wristband and can also be placed in a pendant or clip-on. It very light-weight and swim-proof. My issue with it? It was too minimal for me. I needed a screen instead of just LED lights. . Here is a link on Amazon.
The next Fitbit was the Charge 2. It shows a real watch face, monitors heart rate, and tracks different exercises. With multiple screen setups, it offers more features. My issue with it? It didn’t track my bike riding distance or calories. Here is a link on Amazon.
The Fitbit Blaze looked promising and I liked the features. The only problem is that the plastic ate a whole in my arm just under the watch face. If it doesn’t affect your skin, I believe it is a good feature set for the price. Here is a link on Amazon.
The Garmin Vivofit is lightweight, shows the time, and tracks movement. Even though it has a clock, I even used it to supplement to a watch so I could always see my steps. The Vivofit 2 had syncing problems with my phone. I believe the new versions overcome that. I liked the phone app and this device and the battery lasts a year! It is a 24/7 device, does not track heartbeat, and is swimable. Here is the Vivofit 3 and here is the Vivofit 4 on Amazon.
The pinnacle of wrist gadgets is the venerable Apple Watch. I have the model 2 and it does everything anyone could want. It filled all my requirements and provided so much more. I actually had to disable features so it didn’t distract me too much. And that is where I ended up. The price tag was outrageous, but it has enhanced my daily life.
About Heart Rate
Only the Fitbit Charge and the Apple Watch are the only devices on the list to track heart rate. And they are not great at it. Even if they were, I quickly learned my heart rates when I exercise, the the measurement became useless to me. If you want an exact heart rate, get a chest strap. The Garmin chest strap works with the Vivofit to provide very accurate readings. So forget the wrist-based heartbeat.
The Bottom Line
I enjoyed all these trackers except the Blaze, but each had small issues for me except the Apple Watch. If you can’t spring for the Apple Watch or don’t want that much geekiness, I recommend the Garmin Vivofit 4 or the Fitbit Charge 2. I’m almost to the point where I don’t even want a fitness tracker. Just keep moving by doing activities you love and you don’t even need to track it.