Keep on top of your health and exercise goals with clever wristwear.
Trackers can’t get you fit. But since it’s been shown that people monitoring their activity are significantly more active, they can certainly help. The problem with all wearable tech is that every time you take it off, you may not put it back on again, so it’s important to find one that’s comfortable and attractive as well as powerful.
Pre-empt New Year’s resolutions by choosing a tracker now but, be warned, only give one as a gift if you’re sure it’ll be welcome. There are two main types: trackers that just focus on steps, calories and even sleep, then smartwatches, which tell the time, of course, track activity and more. These extras include apps for showing text messages, giving map directions, even translating your speech. The Microsoft, Apple and Sony offerings below are smart watches.
1. Microsoft Band 2:£189.99, Amazon
Microsoft’s new smart band is crammed with sensors and a bright, sharp curved display which shows the time, steps and more. It has GPS built in, which allows great accuracy outdoors. Heart rate and sleep monitoring also feature. The Microsoft Health platform aggregates huge amounts of information such as skin temperature, UV light and more. It’s very accurate and versatile, is compatible with Android, Apple and Windows phones and only loses marks for not being very comfy. Up to two days’ battery life.
2.Fitbit Charge HR:£99.99, Argos
Fitbit is the tracker market leader and is known for its efficient, accurate monitors. This model has a continuous heart rate sensor – it’s also available without this sensor but this one is better. The small display shows the time as well as steps taken plus notifies you when a call comes in on your phone when it’s nearby. It monitors sleep automatically, as does the UP3, but lacks Jawbone’s Smart alarm. The battery lasts five days or so.
3.Withings Activité Pop:£119.99, Currys
Unlike others here, this is an analogue watch with real hands and two dials so the time is always visible. The bigger dial tells the time, the smaller one progresses from 0 to 100 per cent of your step target. It updates the time from your Apple or Android smartphone so it automatically changes when you’re abroad. It’s waterproof so you can swim or shower in it. The conventional watch battery lasts eight months. Simple but highly effective.
4.Apple Watch Sport:from £299, Apple
If you want a smartwatch that handles health tracking, none is better than this. The Sport models look great and the LCD display is super-sharp and colourful. There are scores of fitness apps available but the core ones (Activity and Workout) offer in-depth information with superbly simple interfaces and the heart rate monitor adds extra data. There are thousands of non-fitness apps, too. You’ll only be able to use it if you have a companion iPhone (5s or later), though. Battery lasts a full day.
5.Jawbone UP2:£89.99, Jawbone
The UP2 has just been released in an improved design with a more elegant clasp that makes it lighter than ever. It has the same brilliant Smart Alarm of the UP3, though the sleep tracking isn’t quite as detailed. There’s no heart rate monitor here and like the UP3 there’s no time display, but this is a highly efficient, accurate tracker. The UP3’s Smart Coach app offers in-depth analysis and suggestions like a recipe for an energising breakfast when it sees you slept badly. The battery lasts up to 10 days.
The most accomplished gadget here is the Apple Watch Sport and it’s easily the best designed. Its fitness tracking accuracy is excellent and simple to use. But it’s not cheap. The best buy is theJawbone UP3 because it has sophisticated sensors, a great support app, snazzy design and decent value. The UP2 is almost as good, and cheaper.