07-03-2014, 09:50 AM
#1
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I'm a pretty active guy. I ride my bike a lot, but also run and hike. Also, I've reached that time of life where my metabolism has started to slow down, so my 'ideal weight' and my actual weight have started to diverge. One of the ways I try to keep things from getting out of hand is to keep active. It's really easy to let things slide of the day is too hot, too humid, too cold etc. So, I find that having an activity tracker helps motivate me to get up and do stuff.

Over the last few months, I've use three trackers (not counting smartphone-based monitors) and the Pebble smartwatch. Here are short reviews of the ones I tried.

1) Fitbit Flex

[Image: fitbit-flex.jpg]

Fitbit is among the more recognizable names in the activity tracker business. They have several models, of which the Flex is their current wrist-wearable one. The flex is light, small and mostly nice to have on. You're not supposed to remove it except for charging. It will automatically sync with most smartwatches and will also sync to a computer (using the supplied dongle).

Battery life is around 4 days for me, as I use it a lot. It tracks steps, distance and calculates calories burned, etc. You can also monitor sleep. It is pretty accurate at all these things.

The Flex costs around $100.

Positives:

1) It is small, so it can be worn along with a watch.
2) Silent alarm. You can set an alarm, and it will buzz to wake you. It worked really well for me - never failed to wake me up. On the downside, this will drain your battery even faster.
3) Waterproof - you can take a shower with this on, if you like.

Negatives:

1) No display, so you have to use the indicator lights to see how you're doing. Also, it has no watch, so you'll have to wear one if you want to see the time on your wrist.
2) Charging requires a special dongle, so if you lose it, you're going to have to buy another.
3) Battery dies pretty quickly.


Fitbit Zip:

[Image: simple.b-dis-png.h300d6f3ad99fba0d3929da...cluded.png]

This is almost exactly like the Fitbit Flex, except that it's worn on the belt or in a pocket using a clip. It has all the advantages of the Fitbit, but has a display, so you can read your current stats and also the time.

I found this to not work for me, as I kept forgetting to move it from one item of clothing to the other. I stopped using it after a few days.

On the plus side, it's cheaper (around $50) and the battery lasts for a few months.


Withings Pulse O2:

[Image: withings-pulse-o2-product-photos-03.jpg]

This is a tracker from a company that makes other fitness related stuff. The tracker is outfitted with a display, and it is also pretty small and light. It can be worn on the wrist, and actually doesn't look too hokey. In fact, it's pretty nice and subdued looking.

The display doesn't light up until you press a button, but you can then cycle through your stats. It measures a bit more than the Fitbit trackers mentioned above - in addition to steps, distance and calories, it also measures elevation (good, if you're hiking in the hills) and also is able to get your heart rate and O2 levels. It also has a sleep monitor.

It costs about $115 new.

Positives:

1) The display is great to have. I have not used a watch since getting this.
2) Heart rate and O2 levels. This is not as useful as you might think, as you have to remove the tracker from the band to use this function.
3) Syncs with smartwatches.
4) Battery lasts about 2 weeks.
5) Battery recharges very quickly and uses a standard micro USB cable.

Negatives:

1) Can't read the display in direct sunlight without cupping your hand around it.
2) Will not sync without a smartwatch (Android or iPhone).


Pebble Smartwatch:

[Image: 51aFP%2B0LmWL.jpg]

This is not a typical activity tracker as much as it is a smart interface to your smartphone. You can get your texts and calls and other stuff reported on the watch, but I'm not reviewing it for those uses.

As an activity tracker, it's not bad.....as long as you don't mind carrying your smartphone with you wherever you go. A lot of smartphone users do that anyway, so it won't be that much of a change from their regular routine.

The Pebble also has motion sensors, and there are a few apps that monitor activity without using your smartwatch, but they're very limited.

The downside of this is that using it constantly as an activity monitor will destroy its battery life (as well as that of your phone). I think it's more useful when you head out for a run, than as a constant activity monitor.

The Pebble retails for around $140. As a smartwatch, I like it. As an activity tracker, I find it lacking.

----------------------------

One thing almost none of these reviewed items do is help with cycling. The wrist-worn ones know you're doing something, but they are unable to measure how far you've ridden, as none of them have GPS capability. The Pebble comes closest, as long as you use it with the GPS enabled on your smartphone.

There are GPS watches, but they're mostly much more expensive than these items.

----------------------------

To conclude, I haven't used all the available fitness trackers, but of the ones listed above I find the Withings Pulse O2 to be the most useful.

Since I started using the Withings Pulse, I have not felt the need to use an additional wirstwatch. The fact that it monitors so many things, and I can check my progress without having to sync the data with my phone or computer, makes it a great motivator throughout the day. The ability to check my heart rate and O2 stats is an additional plus.

I want to end this review with a general observation. I've been using one or the other of these trackers for about a year now, and I've found that they all work as motivators to get me up and moving. When I stopped using one, my activity levels fell immediately.

For example, a couple of days ago I had a more sedentary day than usual because of it being a hot, humid, sticky day. In the evening, I took a look at my Withings Pulse and noticed that I was about 3000 steps short of my 10000 step goal, and so I went out for a walk to make up that amount - chances are I wouldn't have done that if not for the tracker. I also find myself scheduling more hikes and runs when I have the trackers on. It's like having a little coach egg you on. Biggrin

If you're looking to get more active, my own experience says that you should get yourself a fitness monitor that you'll wear all the time. They're cheap, and doctor's bills are not.

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 07-03-2014, 10:13 AM
#2
  • Johnny
  • MODERATOR EMERITUS
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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Thanks Yohann for the encouragement. Will the Withings Pulse O2 sinc up with an iMac Computer?

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 07-03-2014, 10:24 AM
#3
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Johnny -

No. That's one of the biggest issues I have with it. You can only sync through an iPhone or Android phone. I have no idea why they restricted it like that.

They have a great website you can use to track your usage on your computer, but no way to sync the data without a smartphone.

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 07-03-2014, 11:09 AM
#4
  • CRAusmus
  • Senior Member
  • Going from Texas to Georgia
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Yohann I have been intrigued by these for quite sometime. My problem is they just didn't track enough info for me as I'm a major geek. I want to know everything from how far I've gone to how many steps I've taken to how long I was active to how many steps I've taken each minute. A ton of info I know, but I'm a strong believer in the broader the picture the easier it is to chart your progress.

Which leads me to the Atlas Fitness Tracker (Link: https://www.atlaswearables.com)

Once this thing hits the market it will be on my wrist. They had an Indie GoGo Campaign that raised almost 630k, well above and beyond their 125k goal. This thing literally tracks everything. As a matter of fact you start doing an exercise and it starts to evaluate your movement and knows what exercise you are doing. Once it identifies the exercise it begins a rep count. They've taught it to detect many different exercises from running to push-ups to complex exercises like dumb bell curls to over head press; they've even taught it to know when you are drinking, not to mention it continues to learn from you as you wear it. It can even offer feedback on your form and if you are working one muscle group too often. The pre-order price is 179. Not bad for all that.

Just thought I'd share with you. These things have come a long way. The Atlas just takes it a step further. Imagine where we'll be in another few years.

I have no association with Atlas Wearables, just gear geek.

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 07-03-2014, 11:25 AM
#5
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Clinton -

I've read about them. I believe there's another of these 'track everything' devices that's been announced. No idea of when they'll hit the market.

As I mentioned, there are a lot of activity trackers out there, and there are more that are coming, but I wonder how many will last long enough to make an impact. Fitbit, Nike, Jawbone etc. have this market pretty well sewed up.

As an aside, I'd have bought and tried the Garmin VivoFit, but couldn't find one anywhere around. I like that it has a battery that lasts a year.

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 07-03-2014, 11:32 AM
#6
  • CRAusmus
  • Senior Member
  • Going from Texas to Georgia
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(07-03-2014, 11:25 AM)yohannrjm Wrote: Clinton -

I've read about them. I believe there's another of these 'track everything' devices that's been announced. No idea of when they'll hit the market.

As I mentioned, there are a lot of activity trackers out there, and there are more that are coming, but I wonder how many will last long enough to make an impact. Fitbit, Nike, Jawbone etc. have this market pretty well sewed up.

As an aside, I'd have bought and tried the Garmin VivoFit, but couldn't find one anywhere around. I like that it has a battery that lasts a year.

I agree with you. It's hard to break into a market when it is filled with established power houses. Unless you can find something that sets you apart. I've not seen one quite like the Atlas so far.

Their Indie GoGo backers are set to have their shipments sent out in December of this year. I'm hoping that they will release right after their backers receive theirs. Sure would make a nice christmas present.

At any rate. These products are a marvel of technology and I love what they are doing for people. You think you're moving enough, then you spend a day with this on your wrist and you realize you really aren't getting the exercise you think you are...It's an eye opener for sure.

Also on the Atlas, much like some of the others, you have to sync with a phone to use GPS. I think it's just too much of a drain on the batter to include GPS on a watch like this that you want to get a nice battery life out of. My Garmin will die hard and fast when it can't get a GPS fix. I've seen it drop over 20 percent in just 30 minutes when it struggles to get a fix. That's the downfall of GPS on these devices right now. With the intelligence of the Atlas you'd think they could teach it when to switch GPS off and switch to counting steps. One can hope.

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 07-03-2014, 04:11 PM
#7
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Nice overview Johann. I've always wanted one of these trackers; my wife has the Fitbit Flex and it's existence definitely helps to motivate her. My issue is that I carry my iphone everywhere and use both an activity app (the one I use for training for my half and full marathons) and motion activity apps - the iPhone 5S has a motion co-processor built in and can track steps. Plus of course it has iTunes and podcasts and stuff.

Like I wrote at the outset, I'm intrigued by an activity tracker but I wonder if it would provide any use above and beyond my phone. I guess the sleep tracking and biometric data would be but I wouldn't need a tracker just to track my sleep.


- Josh -

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 07-03-2014, 06:23 PM
#8
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I wear the Up24. The main reason I prefer it (besides the way it looks) is the sleep tracking seems to be better than most. With as much as I travel and time zone changes its a great way to keep up on how much I'm sleeping. Their app works well with all your favorite apps and the movement tracking is excellent. Overall it's one of the few things I can't live without anymore.

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 07-03-2014, 07:47 PM
#9
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Wow! Great reviews, Yohann!

Too much technology for me, I guess. I just eat minimally, mainly vegetarian, go for walks, ride my bike, play futebol and rest! As I get older, I seem to enjoy resting more! Biggrin

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 07-04-2014, 02:35 AM
#10
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(07-03-2014, 04:11 PM)jpakstis Wrote: ...........

Like I wrote at the outset, I'm intrigued by an activity tracker but I wonder if it would provide any use above and beyond my phone. .......


- Josh -

Josh -

Probably not. These things are more for people who don't carry their phones wherever they go. Also, most of them are meant to be worn all the time - continuing to count your steps at home and at work.

I prefer to leave my phone at home when I go on a run, or a walk. I don't need to be reachable all the time. If I need music, I just take my little Sansa player around - it's tiny. Smile


Celestino -

You're right, clean living and an active lifestyle doesn't need the use of this sort of technology. As I said at the outset, in my case I was looking for something to help motivate me to do more activities. These things are a lot cheaper than a personal trainer, and they work for me, so I bought one.

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 07-04-2014, 05:13 AM
#11
  • Rufus
  • Senior Member
  • Greater Toronto Area
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I've used a pedometer for years, currently have a Silva, and find it meets my motivational needs. I'm not into high-tech gadgets at all (I don't have a basic cell/mobile phone let alone a Smartphone) so I've stayed away from "activity trackers"; however, the Atlas looks interesting, as it would track my twice weekly workouts at the gym. Nonetheless, price is an issue, as I'm not convinced the additional functions are worth the cost; I paid £10 for my Silva pedometer.

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 07-04-2014, 04:07 PM
#12
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(07-04-2014, 02:35 AM)yohannrjm Wrote: Celestino -

You're right, clean living and an active lifestyle doesn't need the use of this sort of technology. As I said at the outset, in my case I was looking for something to help motivate me to do more activities. These things are a lot cheaper than a personal trainer, and they work for me, so I bought one.

* Great to hear, Yohann! Biggrin

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 06-09-2015, 04:54 PM
#13
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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I thought I would bump this thread to hear about updated technology. I am looking for a GPS watch that I could wear running, cycling, or paddle boarding. Does such a beast exist? If so, do you have any suggestions?

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 06-09-2015, 05:12 PM
#14
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 06-09-2015, 05:17 PM
#15
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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Thank you Ron...will do. Biggrin

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 06-10-2015, 02:22 PM
#16
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Hey Phil - Yes, the Garmin watches are pretty good at GPS tracking. Some of them are very full-featured (including the Garmin Vivoactive smartwatch). 

Basically, if you're doing multiple types of activities, you'll need a GPS-enabled watch. The Garmin and Tom-Tom watches have decent battery life, which is more than can be said for other smartwatches.

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 06-20-2015, 02:59 PM
#17
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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I just pulled the trigger on the Garmin Vivoactive. I will report back once it arrives and I have a chance to play around with it.

[Image: V1Ax6za.jpg]

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 06-21-2015, 05:22 PM
#18
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(06-20-2015, 02:59 PM)bullgoose Wrote: I just pulled the trigger on the Garmin Vivoactive. I will report back once it arrives and I have a chance to play around with it.

[Image: V1Ax6za.jpg]

That's cool, Phil! Let us know your thoughts on it after you've tried it out for a bit. I presume that battery life with GPS on is not that great. It will be good to have some 'real world' data on this.

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 06-28-2015, 07:42 PM
#19
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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The Garmin watch arrived on Saturday. The software is a bit buggy and I am still feeling my way. I did wear it paddleboarding this morning but could not figure out how to choose Paddling as the activity (it shows up on the apple app but not on the actual watch). So...I choose running instead. I was able to see how far I went (2.72 miles) and got notifications (vibration) every mile.

If worse comes to worse, I will break down and read the manual. Biggrin

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 06-30-2015, 10:18 AM
#20
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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I went paddle boarding again this morning.  I still could not figure out how to choose paddle boarding as the activity so choose walking instead. The map is accurate but, the calories are not.

[Image: cRMIFfj.jpg]

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