Fitness Trackers: Holiday Gift Guide - InformationWeek

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IoT
IoT
Healthcare // Mobile & Wireless
News
11/24/2014
08:36 AM
Alison Diana
Alison Diana
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Fitness Trackers: Holiday Gift Guide

Wearable fitness devices top many holiday lists this year. Here's how to choose the right one.
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Fitbit Charge
Fitbit hopes its three new models will cement its leadership position in an increasingly fractured market. The Fitbit Charge, the only one of its recently unveiled products currently shipping, melds some watch-like capabilities with the company's long menu of fitness tracker features.
Price: $129.99
Colors: Black, slate, blue, burgundy
Features: Fitbit's newest offering includes a sleep-tracking module; integrated Caller ID (when paired with a user's smartphone); an accelerometer; and an altimeter. The Fitbit Charge delivers up to seven days of usage, according to the company, and it shows stats in real-time on an OLED display. A vibrating silent alarm acts as a wakeup call, and users can sync the device to their computer or smartphone (120 different smartphone models are supported) to view detailed charts and graphs of their progress and goals. 
Pros: Leverages proven fitness-tracking features in newest design; integrated Caller ID; mid-range price point with many features
Cons: Limited color choices; heart-rate monitor not included (will be available in Charge HR in 2015)
More information: Fitbit Charge

(Source: Fitbit)

Fitbit Charge
Fitbit hopes its three new models will cement its leadership position in an increasingly fractured market. The Fitbit Charge, the only one of its recently unveiled products currently shipping, melds some watch-like capabilities with the company's long menu of fitness tracker features.

Price: $129.99

Colors: Black, slate, blue, burgundy

Features: Fitbit's newest offering includes a sleep-tracking module; integrated Caller ID (when paired with a user's smartphone); an accelerometer; and an altimeter. The Fitbit Charge delivers up to seven days of usage, according to the company, and it shows stats in real-time on an OLED display. A vibrating silent alarm acts as a wakeup call, and users can sync the device to their computer or smartphone (120 different smartphone models are supported) to view detailed charts and graphs of their progress and goals.

Pros: Leverages proven fitness-tracking features in newest design; integrated Caller ID; mid-range price point with many features

Cons: Limited color choices; heart-rate monitor not included (will be available in Charge HR in 2015)

More information: Fitbit Charge

(Source: Fitbit)

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David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
11/24/2014 | 12:00:04 PM
Not just wristbands
I thought the bike helmet and the baseball cap were particularly interesting as variations on the theme.
D. Henschen
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50%
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
11/24/2014 | 10:39:32 AM
Re: Hate to rain on the parade, but...
Runners have had endless choices of GPS and pedometer-style trackers for years. I suppose some of these new "fitness" trackers could be worn while participating in focused, sustained activities such as basketball, aerobics, workouts at the gym, or even walking the dog -- all of which would elevate your heart rate and breathing for at least 20 minutes. I'll also admid that having a device that offers proof and a reminder that you have been sitting on your duff all day can't be bad.

I'm just saying that movement does not equal excercise. You've heard of empty calories, right? Think of normal, day-to-day activity as empty calories burned. You burn calories just sitting there breathing, but that won't make you fit.

 
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
11/24/2014 | 9:58:21 AM
Re: Hate to rain on the parade, but...
While I'd agree totally that without making an effort to strain yourself, it's not really exercise, activity trackers can help a lot with that, especially if you're not the kind of person that likes to use the gym. If you run outdoors, there is no machine to track your stats, so keeping an eye on the time taken, distance run can be a real boon.

Personally I'm dubious about the usefulness of heart rate data, as if it isn't medically accurate (which a lot of trackers aren't) then it's a little redundant, but there is certainly some positives to these sorts of trackers.

My recommendation would be to start cheap and if you're still using it in three months, upgrade. 
Ariella
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50%
Ariella,
User Rank: Author
11/24/2014 | 9:29:14 AM
Re: Hate to rain on the parade, but...
@D. Henschen machines in gyms do usually offer feedback on heartrate, calories burned, etc., though if you take an aerobics class, you wouldn't get the same data. I suppose the wearables can be useful for that. As for the ordinary steps, there is some value to that over staying glued in one place. It's possible wearables encourage people to take the stairs rather than the elevator, for example, and all those little bits do help. They won't accomplish major weight loss, but they can prevent extra weight from creeping on -- so long as you don't lose the benefits by eating a daily donut.
Alison_Diana
50%
50%
Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
11/24/2014 | 9:29:08 AM
Re: Hate to rain on the parade, but...
Maybe, but I've seen a few friends who weren't interested in exercising, per se, improve their health in part because they now wear these bands or clip-on trackers. Sure, tracking steps around the house to do laundry or around the office may not be the same as running five miles, but movement IS movement -- and if tracking steps encourages the wearer to move a little more each day, then surely that's a good thing?

If somebody doesn't move much pre-fitness band and then -- because of competition with themselves, gameification, or some other incentive -- starts walking a bit more (whether it's to get the paper, a beer, a glass of milk, or whatever...), then surely it's a good thing.
D. Henschen
50%
50%
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
11/24/2014 | 9:14:43 AM
Hate to rain on the parade, but...
I think "fitness" trackers that you wear continuously are a waste of time and are doomed to end up in a drawer. Exercise, in my mind, is something that means you are elevating you heart rate for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Counting footsteps to go fetch the newspaper or a beer from the refrigerator shouldn't be counted as exercise. Do yourself a favor and measure the extraordinary effort, not the ordinary, day-to-day moving about. You'll find that the ordinary is quite the same, dull stuff, and sooner or later that device is going to end up in a drawer.
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