Looking for something to help motivate you and get you off of the couch? Want to help a loved one quantify and track their daily activity? Perhaps you are looking for a connected device for someone but not a full fledged smartwatch? We take a look at some of our favorite Fitness Bands from 2014.
The Misfit Shine started life in early 2013 as a very successful Indiegogo campaign. The incredibly versatile activity tracker is approximately the size and depth of two stacked Quarters and can be worn as a wristband, a necklace, or clipped to your clothing. It is perhaps one of the best looking activity tracking devices on the market. Made from anodized aluminum, the Shine is available in a large selection of colors. (the Flash is identical in features but is made from plastic and is half the price). The only visual indicator on these devices are 12 small LEDs arranged in in a circle. These small lights can display your progress towards your daily goal and the time. The advantage of such a minimal display is a staggering 6 month battery life from the unit’s replaceable watch battery. The Shine / Flash wirelessly connect to your mobile device and track your steps, calories burnt, and distance. In addition, it also monitors light / deep sleeping. The devices are compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices with Bluetooth 4.0.
The recently released Jawbone UP24 is the perfect fitness band for the person on your list who isn’t looking for something over techie but wants all of the benefits of a modern activity tracker. The UP24 is the replacement to Jawbone’s original UP. The first version of the UP was very popular and pushed the limits of what people expected from a fitness band. UP24 addresses one of the largest issues from the original band by adding wireless syncing (Bluetooth 4.0). UP24 offers the obligatory step and calories burnt tracking, activity tracking, and customized goals. To keep you motivated, it will vibrate to alert you to move around more. The band also tracks your nightly sleep and has a silent alarm that wakes you during an optimal part of your sleep cycle. The UP24 uses this technology to also help you sneak in a quick power nap without leaving you tired. The device is compatible with iOS and Android. On the iOS side of things, the UP24 can share all of your activity data with Apple’s Health app.
Forget Tickle-Me-Elmo, right now the Microsoft Band seems to be one of the hardest to find gifts out there. Offering the features and glitz of a smartwatch and the tracking ability of a fitness band, it is easy to see why the Microsoft Band appears to be so popular. The device features a full color touch display, continuous optical heart rate monitor, and a GPS to track your runs. As expected it tracks calories burnt, steps, distance, and sleep. But that is where the Microsoft Band leaps past the above-listed devices. Connect the Band to your Android, iOS, or Windows Phone device and you will receive notifications of phone calls, emails, texts, and calendar events. An additional bonus if you have a Windows Phone, the Band has a microphone to connect with Cortana. While the 2 day battery life is not amazing, it is substantially better than some of the smartwatches on the market and the Band is not nearly as bulky. The device has more in common fit-wise with a Nike FuelBand than a watch. The stiff band has allowed Microsoft to eliminate a lot of the bulk by integrating batteries and electronics into the sides of the band. The result is a device that will look at home on any size wrist.
Microsoft Band lists for $199.99 and is only available through Microsoft’s online and brick-and-mortar stores. Microsoft Store locations currently have waitlists you can add your name to, otherwise eBay is best bet.
Similar to the Microsoft Band, the Fitbit Surge is part of a new generation of devices that straddles the line between a fitness band and a smartwatch. These devices want to be something that you would wear all day. The multi-platform-compatible device features a monochrome, backlit touch screen that affords it a 7 day battery life. The Surge provides all of the tracking you would expect from a fitness band, including steps and calories burnt, while also offering automatic sleep monitoring with an integrated silent wakeup alarm. Additionally the device features a GPS for runs and a continuous optical heart rate monitor. When connected to your Android, iOS, or Windows Phone device via Bluetooth 4.0, you will receive notifications of calls, emails, and texts on the Surge. Unlike the Microsoft Band, the Surge will also let you see and control your music. The Surge is easily one of the most full featured fitness bands on the market today. Unfortunately, squeezing such impressive battery life into a sensor laden watch has resulted in a fairly chunky product, so those with smaller wrists might find the 34mm wide device to be a little too much.
The Fitbit Surge lists for $249.95 and is available to order from Fitbit’s website.
The fully analog Withings Activité. Lists for $450.