My Quest for a New Fitness Tracker; Which Will It Be?

I tested the fitness tracker waters with the Pivotal Living 1 and stuck with it despite the bugs. Unfortunately, I forgot it wasn’t waterproof, and a dip in the pool brought on the death of the PL1. It’s time to replace it, and I’ve narrowed my choices down to the Fitbit Charge HR, Withings Activité Pop, or Garmin Vivosmart

All three devices have their pros and cons, but I am honestly not sure which I will pick. Here’s my reasoning for each:

Fitbit Charge HR


This is consistently chosen by just about every review site as the best of the fitness tracking bunch. Fitbit has an excellent ecosystem, and it syncs nicely with MyFitnessPal, which is a must for me. I know optical heart rate monitoring isn’t perfect, but it’s certainly better than nothing, and reviews indicate it’s mostly accurate outside of short, intense intervals, which seem to throw the tracking system slightly. It looks like a fitness band, but it’s not obnoxiously large or obtrusive, and I like that it has a small screen so I can see the time, calories burned, steps, etc. The only thing I would put in the “cons” column is that it’s not waterproof, just splashproof, so I need to be vigilant about not accidentally wearing it into the pool. I don’t often swim, so that’s not a common issue, but it’s something to consider.

Withings Activité Pop


Judie and Dan are big cheerleaders for the Withings Activité line; Judie uses the original fancier version, and Dan has a Pop. My budget is at or under $200, so that knocks the Activité out of the running, but it puts the Pop right in my budget range. The pros here are that it’s waterproof, has a very long battery life, and looks like a normal watch. Since my hope is to wear this device 24/7, that’s important from a professional appearance standpoint. The downside is that there’s little to no control over anything from the watch itself. Instead, everything has to get filtered and controlled by the Withings Healthmate app. It’s not a big deal, but where the Fitbit lets you indicate that you’re in the gym or working out, the Withings has no way to differentiate. Also, there’s no backlight or any way to read the watch in the dark. On the upside, it’s waterproof!

Garmin Vivosmart


I have a soft spot for Garmin since I love my Forerunner 405. Mike also spoke quite highly of his, and the reviews overall are quite good. The downside to it is that the “smart” side gets some mixed reviews, and the app is not held in terribly high esteem. At the same time, I could add a compatible heart rate monitor to it for workouts, which is a nice bonus. There’s also the Vivoactive 2, but if I am going for a non-smart fitness band, I might as well get the Charge HR. The Vivosmart offers a bit more for the money.


Not on my shortlist, but still on my radar are Polar’s offerings (the M400 and A300), which offer Polar’s expansive ecosystem and support, but are a bit bulkier than I’d like. I’ve heard mixed things about the Fitbit Surge, and I am not super interested in an Android Wear watch at this point. What I really want is a fitness band first, smartwatch distant second. It really comes down to a tight race between the Charge HR and the Withings Activité Pop, with the Vivosmart as a dark horse. The other super dark horse is that there’s one Android Wear device I do like-the Sony Smartwatch 3. And it clocks in at only $200 right now at Verizon, making it awfully tempting…

Right now I’m leaning towards the Charge HR, but that flip-flops regularly! Which fitness tracker would you choose? Or do you have another favorite tracker I didn’t consider? Let me know in the comments, and I will follow-up with a review when I make my decision!

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About the Author

Zek has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to their first PDA (a Palm M100). They quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. They love writing about ebooks because they combine their two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?

5 Comments on "My Quest for a New Fitness Tracker; Which Will It Be?"

  1. I settled on the Misfit Shine, because I wanted a tracker that didn’t look like your typical rubberized bracelet. I got a nice aftermarket leather and metal band for it so it’ll look like a real watch, and I plan on getting the Bloom pendant eventually as well because I think it looks pretty darn nice. I also liked that it syncs directly with MFP and it has its own IFTTT channel so I can get hackery with my data. It arrives today and I can’t wait to go home and set it up!

  2. I am actually thinking about the vivoActive when it comes out. The lack of GPS is an issue for me as a constant runner, but at the same time I have gotten slightly addicted to the notifications and constant activity tracking so I am not ready to go ‘bare wrist’ either …

    As for the vivoSmart, it pretty clearly works MUCH better for iOS than Android. I had a few issues out of the gate, but within two weeks they were settled and I haven’t had a single problem since. My biggest issue is that sleep tracking isn’t automatic …

  3. The Shine intrigues me-I think it’s a bit too minimalist for me, but I am very, very curious what you think of it!

  4. So far, I really love my Shine. It is very minimalist on the wrist, but the app is useful and so is the MyFitnessPal integration. All told, it does what I need it to do. I was interested in the Pebble but it was too big for me…it sounds like it’s working perfectly for what you wanted, though! It stinks that the Misfit Pebble app doesn’t integrate with the actual Misfit app, so I hope they change it soon. I’m addicted to seeing my progress now…when I meet my goal for the day, I get a little light show. And it’s very nice looking on my wrist too–having small wrists means that most stuff dwarfs my arm, but this looks like a properly sized watch on me. I’ve gotten a ton of compliments in the past week, too.

  5. Yay, so glad you like the shine. My coworker loves her Flash.

    I’ll get into this in my full review but the Pebble is about as big as I think I could go with a smartwatch, any bigger and it would look ridiculous on my wrists.

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