Top smart fitness wearables for a healthy 2016

Manny Pham
May 25, 2016

Summer is here which means it’s time to start getting out there and showing off those chiseled abs. If only it was that easy…

“Beach body,” “shedding unwanted poundage” and becoming “less rotund.” If these phrases struck a chord, you’re like us and not one of those lucky people with a high metabolism.

Fear not as we have a comprehensive list of fitness wearables to help get you in shape for 2016. Fitness trackers have been around for a while, but only been recently have we started paying attention to them more. GPS has been much improved for that desired accuracy and newer, more useful sensors are being squeezed onto more small silicone bands for greater comfort. It’s safe to say fitness trackers are no longer your assistant, but now a solid partner.

Fitbit Surge



Fitbit are the most popular fitness trackers at the moment, proving so with high sales and the good vibes they produce. The Microsoft Band isn’t the be all and end all of fitness wearables, not with the likes of the Surge out there. What we really enjoyed about using a Fitbit is the gamification of the ordeal that is exercising. Some people are masochistic weirdoes who enjoy the pain, but for the rest of us, we need extra motivation. Fitbit challenges you to beat daily challenges and pits you against friends on a leaderboard. It feels gratifying to see what you’ve achieved for the week, and it’s even sweeter to see yourself beat the fitness freak in the office (hate that guy). The silicone band is very comfortable but the big screen is a huge hindrance for shirt wearers. With a bigger screen it can however perform smartwatch duties to a level not many fitness trackers can replicate.

The importance of a good diet cannot be forgotten, you can workout as much and hard as you want, but a Big Mac with a diet coke is having you exercise in futility. You can log whatever you eat into Fitbit’s app but it isn’t the best food logger you can get. At times barcodes fail to scan and some popular foods are just not in the system. Kudos to Fitbit for including one as many do not, but we expect more updates and improvement to this feature.

Comfort: 4/5

Fitness: 4/5

Battery: 4/5

Garmin Vìvoactive



Garmin’s effort may not be as pretty on the eyes as the aforementioned wearables, but it was one of the trailblazers in fitness wearable tech and continues to do so this year with the Vivoactive. Knowing Garmin’s reputation for satellite navigation, you can expect that on your wrist with the Garmin Vìvoactive. GPS isn’t perfect on any fitness wearable at the moment but it’s pretty close with the Vìvoactive. What the Vìvoactive also does pretty well is tracking your chosen activity, you could say the Vìvoactive is a pure fitness tracker with no smartwatch distraction features. You know what else it doesn’t have? A heart rate sensor. Yes that’s right, shock horror, but do you really need it? The answer is not really, a heart rate sensor is great and provides great data. But the Garmin Vìvoactive does a better job in pushing you in what you want to do. There’s a lot that you can do as the Vìvoactive tracks: running, indoor running, bike, swimming, golf, indoor and outdoor walking. With the choice on show it gave us a lot of room to mix it up and do something different to stay motivated.

We’ve mentioned its not much of a looker, the bezels are way too big and the overall design just looks a bit dated. The touchscreen isn’t super responsive and not exactly easy on the eyes. Does this really matter? Well to some yes but for those who are looking to improve themselves can easily look past it’s flaws.

Comfort: 3.5/5

Fitness: 3.5/5

Battery: 4/5

Withings Pulse O2 (now Ox)


withings pulse ox

A fitness band that doesn’t like being a band. With the included clip you can run with comfort having it attached to your t-shirt or wait. For the price point it offers near the same features as the big boys we’ve talked about before. Although the sleep tracker is a bit inaccurate, seemingly more of a horizontal tracker than a sleep one. But for excercising it performs well with the heart rate sensor aiding the experience. If you can’t afford a Microsoft Band the Withings Pulse O2 has your back as it does almost everything it can, with less pizazz. If the banter from the social side of Fitbit really appeals but finance is in the way, Withings has you covered. Withings also provide social features in their well-built app, with a daily leaderboard for you to compare. It’s not as advanced and encouraging as the Fitbit but it does motivate you to carry on with your goals.

Comfort: 3/5

Fitness: 3/5

Battery: 4.5/5

Moov Now


moov now

The smallest of the lot but also the biggest surprise. Despite not having a screen the Moov Now makes up for it by being an excellent fitness tracker. Sporting 3D motion the Moov Now has unique exercises that make working out fun. We particularly enjoyed the boxing workout, despite not having a second Moov Now to fully utilise the exercise. The analysis of form and power seemed accurate and really encourages you to do better. Moov Now has an edge over the Vìvoactive in monitoring swimming, because it is the more comfortable wearable. It feels like it’s not there as you strive for aero-dynamism in the water. The band is versatile and it’s encouraged for you to wear the band where it’s needed, for cycling you’re expected to wear it on your ankle to accurately measure your journey weaving through on-coming traffic. We’re still a bit miffed on how Moov makes us want to buy a second one to get the full experience.

Comfort: 4.5/5

Fitness: 4/5

Battery: 3/5

Sony SmartBand 2


sony smartband 2

Sony are still finding themselves with fitness trackers, the orignal SmartBand was more a life tracker than fitness. They’re back with a better effort in the form of the SmartBand 2. Now more durable and comfortable to wear, there’s even a heart rate monitor included this time around to shake off that “life tracker” tag. The SmartBand 2 also has a IP38 rating, meaning it is completely water and dust proof. Which makes it quite weird how Sony hasn’t included in Lifelog, a swimming tracker. The only thing on-board is a standard running tracker, which is decent enough but for almost £100 you’d expect a bit more. Still the SmartBand 2 is a solid fitness tracker but it hasn’t really shaken off the “life tracker” tag. We’d wait for the price to go down before going for a SmartBand 2.

Comfort: 4/5

Fitness: 2.5/5

Battery: 3/5

Microsoft Band 2


Microsoft band 2

Our favourite fitness tracker at the moment, released only late last year and already it has shackled itself onto our hearts. What makes the Microsoft Band a standout wearable is the amazing OLED screen. Pixels are non-existent giving it a clear and seamless experience as you navigate through the simple UI. What gives the band an edge is the fact that it’s the most advanced wearable at the moment, sporting 11 sensors. Not many fitness trackers have a barometer and a golf tracker on-board, there’s just so much that the Microsoft Band 2 offers. Unlike most wearables the Band offers smartwatch capabilities such as checking messages, without forgetting that it is fitness tracker at the core. Running with the band proved to be an accurate experience, more so than anything else we’ve experienced. Microsoft has also included weight training in the band, which we can’t express how helpful it has been for us. Squeezing out that last rep without having to count just works well.

Microsoft Health stores all the data it collects from the band to give an accurate reading on the calories you burn off in a workout session.

The Microsoft Band is one for fitness warriors who don’t mind keeping their t-shirt off. It’s pretty big and can feel quite constrictive. Which proved to be problematic when using the sleep tracker. But given time it won’t feel so bothersome, saying that you could just get a wearable that’s comfortable off the bat. If you don’t mind the lack of golf tracking.

Comfort: 3/5

Fitness: 4.5/4

Battery: 3/5

Main image source: Flickr

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