fitness-bands-main

Summer is just around the corner. This means you’ll be spending the better part of your weekends, let’s hope, in swim trunks. If you’re looking to up your daily activity and get fit, there are a number of fitness trackers you can strap to your wrist and start tracking your progress immediately. We compared some of the most popular ones on the market.

Fitbit Flex, $100

Color choices: Black, grey, pink, green, purple, teal, orange, navy
Water resistant? Yes, and can be submerged up to 10 meters.
Charges via USB cable
Pairs with: iOS and Android devices via Bluetooth 4.0 and also to any computer with Fitbit’s wireless sync dongle (included).
Display: Not really. There are 5 white lights, each light indicates 20% of your fitness goal.
Battery life: 5 days
What can you track with it? In addition to step, calorie and sleep tracking via the three axis accelerometer, the Fitbit Flex allows you to input the information from some third-party apps like Lose it! and My Fitness Pal into the Fitbit dashboard for a more comprehensive view of your fitness data. The tracker is removable, so you can change out different colored bands and put the device in a clip or other accessories. It comes with both large- and small-sized bands. Although it can be submerged up to 10 meters, the tracker is not calibrated to track swimming activity. You can wear it in the pool and log the activity manually anyway. That’s neat.

Garmin VivoFit, $130

Color choices: Black, blue, purple, teal, gray
Water resistant? Nope. Do not submerge
Not rechargeable. Uses watch batteries
Pairs with iOS and Android with Bluetooth 4.0
Display? Yes
Battery life: 1 year+
What can you track with it? Steps, activity level, distance, sleep patterns via a three-axis accelerometer. It pairs with a heart-rate monitor which straps to your chest to track heartbeats per minute. (The strap is included in the Bundle for $170 or sold separately for $70.)
Not having to charge this thing every few days is the biggest benefit. It pairs with the Garmin Connect app to tracks your movements and help you set goals, and if you’ve been inactive too long, a bright red bar lights up on the display to remind you to move. It’s cool that it pairs with a heart rate monitor. Not so cool that the band itself doesn’t track your heart rate.

Jawbone UP24, $150

Color choices: Orange, black, pink, yellow
Water resistant? Nope. Do not submerge
Charges via USB cable, included
Pairs with UP app for iOS and Android phones 4.3 or later (Jellybean) via Bluetooth 4.0
Display? No
Battery life: 7 days
What can you track with it?Via the UP app, you can input the type of activity and intensity for a number of different workouts, not just running or walking, although data is still based on the movement of your wrist via a three-axis accelerometer. You can also input and track meals with photos and nutritional information via a barcode scanner in the app. Jawbone UP24 also claims to track your sleep patterns and allows you to set an alarm that wakes you at a lighter point in your REM cycle.

Jawbone released a separate app, UP Coffee, that lets you track your caffeine intake and see how it affects those sleep patterns. UP Coffee has nothing to do with the band, doesn’t pair with it, and is only for iOS currently. The band will vibrate if you’ve been inactive for too long to remind you to get up and move around which, honestly, could be irritating unless you’re into that sort of thing.

Nike Fuelband SE, $150 for basic to $170 for silver or rose-gold clasp (ooooh)

Color choices: All black, black/neon yellow, black/red, and black/pink
Water resistant? Nope. Do not submerge
Charges via USB, plugs directly into USB port
Pairs with Nike+ iOS app via Bluetooth 4.0, syncs your data to your Nike+ account
Display? Yes
Battery life: 4 days
What can you track with it? A three-axis accelerometer monitors your activity via Fuel, Nike’s point system for tracking all your movements. It claims to track how long you’ve slept.
Nike famously fired the majority of the Fuelband team back in April and cancelled the fall launch of a slimmer version of the Fuelband. They haven’t pulled the product from the shelves, so the SE is still available to purchase, however Nike stated they will focus on improving fitness tracker software, the Nike+ app, instead. As the GPS and motion sensors in your smartphone improve, the need for additional pieces of hardware to track your movement will diminish.

Basis Fitness Tracker Carbon Steel Edition, $200

Color choices: Black, with some colored watch band options sold separately
Water resistant? Nope. Do not submerge
Charges via USB cable
Pairs with iOS and Android with Bluetooth 2.1
Display: Like a digital watch, always on. A lot of information.
Battery life: 4 days
What can you track with it? The Basis band has the most sensors out of the most popular fitness bands. In addition to the three-axis accelerometer, the Basis claims to capture your heart rate, perspiration and skin temperature with these sensors. Supposedly this helps the band calculate calorie expenditure by activity better, from strenuous physical workouts to sleep patterns
Bikers, rowers and everyone who does more than run take note: the Basis fitness tracker benefits you the most by capturing resting heart rate and BPM. (That’s HEART beats per minute for all the EDMer’s reading this.) This is the bulkiest and most expensive of the bands, and reviews have reported lapses in heart rate measurements when active, which is the point of the sensor, but even with some bugs this is the most comprehensive self-contained fitness tracker right now.

On the whole, fitness wrist bands and their companion fitness tracking apps are largely inaccurate unless paired with an accurate heart-monitor chest strap, but there is evidence that wearing the bands increases activity, because your habits change for the better. If you’re not a competitive runner and all you’re looking for is a reminder to stay fit, by all means get one. Alternatively, you can write motivational quotes on your hand every morning for free. TAKE THE STAIRS. GO TO THE GYM. STEP AWAY FROM THE CHEESE FRIES. I bet you’ll see similar results.