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!
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!