The Perfect or Best Activity Tracker ?

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messaging, Hr, running...hmmm
messaging, Hr, running…hmmm

There are LOTS of activity trackers on the market and LOTS more planned to come from the large existing companies such as FITBIT [SURGE, others] as well as new large entrants such as MICROSOFT [BAND] and start-ups.

With the plethora of trackers none is yet the ‘perfect’ one. In fact, what would a perfect activity trackers ‘do’ and ‘look like’? A tracker that’s perfect for a 60-something may well not be perfect for a 28 year-old triathlete.

Indeed I recently bought a FITBIT ONE for a 60-something. It’s a simple clip-on device with a display and rudimentary sleep tracker that links to a decent app. That may well have been the ‘perfect’ tracker for that particular individual. Reasonably priced too.

Me? Nominally a ‘triathlete’, I don’t have a tracker that I use regularly. I have a Garmin 920Xt which has good inbuilt activity tracking functionality – but I don’t really use the activity tracking as the watch is not too pretty; pretty large (compared to a band) and doesn’t give the HR and Sleep functions that I would want.

I don’t  ‘track’

Essentially what I want (maybe even NEED from a sporty point of view) is a RECOVERY tracker.

A recovery tracker would need to have judicious use of heart rate variability analysis from an optical (non-chest) strap as well as good sleep analysis metrics. The former of those might not even be possible. (Although Jaybird REIGN makes some claims in this area).

Before I go on to say what features the ‘perfect’ activity tracker would possess let me cover some of the features that it SHOULD NOT have.

  • GPS
  • Watch-form factor
  • SMS-Text/notifications features
  • Camera control

Some of those are controversial. They are clearly all useful functions and functions that help a product sell and differentiate it from the competitors.  However I argue they add size/weight/complexity and are not necessary to perform the task that an activity tracker needs to do.

Before we get carried away we have to lose the mind-set that the activity tracker needs to do everything. IT IS NOT MEANT TO BE A MARATHON RUNNER’S WATCH nor A TRIATHLETE’S watch. That’s a different device at a different price point.

Of course I know that you are going to say that if you go for a 10k jog then that is an activity that needs to be tracked

So the ‘perfect’ activity tracker IMHO will do this

  • Provide some meaningful way of tracking ACTIVITY
    • sport activity (or be able to turn off the device for sport activity allowing another dedicated device to track sport)
    • walking and stair climbing (but not necessarily ‘steps’ per se)
  • Provide some meaningful way of tracking INACTIVITY
    • sleep quality
    • waking inactivity, such as driving, without recording false activity.
    • general stress/recovery level of nervous system through HRV and/or HRrest
  • A simple method of showing progress against a meaningful daily target
  • Look aesthetically pleasing and be lightweight
  • Bluetooth comms to a SMART phone app and/or ‘open’ standards-based web app

Do you agree?

Activity Trackers

So: Fitbit at the lower end, Jaybird at the top-end and the middle ground is littered with differing functionality. My personal choices there would be the FUSE and the BAND as I like how they look.

Black Friday 2015 Amazon Price
Basis Peak £149.99 Link
Epson Pulsense PS100 £42.99 Link
Epson Pulsense PS500 £79.99 Link
Fitbit Charge £49.00 Link
Fitbit Charge HR £74.99 Link
FitBit Flex £112.00 Link
Fitbit One £58.65 Link
Fitbit Surge Ultimate £142.49 Link
Fitbit Zip £49.70 Link
Fitbug Orb £30.95 Link
Garmin Forerunner 15 £79.99 Link
Garmin Vivoactive £123.31 Link
Garmin Vivofit £44.98 Link
Garmin Vivofit2 £73.95 Link
Garmin Vivosmart £79.99 Link
Jawbone UP24 £52.89 Link
Jaybird Reign £179.99 Link
Microsoft Band £89.00 Link
Milestone Altitude £28.91 Link
Mio Fuse £94.95 Link
Misfit Shine £59.99 Link
Nike+ Fuelband n/a Link
Polar Loop £45.60 Link
Polar A360 £131.32 Link
Samsung Gear Fit £63.99 Link
sony Mobile SWR10 £29.89 Link
Timex Move x20 £50.55 Link
Withings Pulse £54.99 Link

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Agree. And which one of them you suggest?