Fitness trackers have become a popular way to stay active with the success of wearable devices from Fitbit, Garmin and the popularity of the Apple Watch encouraging people to keep tabs on their health. If now is the time for “New Year, new you” then it may be the moment to invest in a new tracker. The devices are still improving, offering functions including sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring and different exercises. There have been some questions over their accuracy, but many offer a path to a more active lifestyle.
Garmin Fēnix 5S Sapphire GPS Running Watch
Almost more important than size is the fact that the Fenix 5 knows what it is and what it’s supposed to do. It’s not a smartwatch posing as a fitness watch, and it’s not a fitness watch that has co-opted the app platforms and battery-sucking touchscreen displays of smartwatches. It’s a fitness tracking watch with all of the stuff that you would expect from a high-end Garmin.
The 5S has a round face,… a fiber-reinforced polymer body, and a stainless steel bezel. It’s still fairly thick, with a swollen underside and flashing green heart rate sensors, but it’s not quite the monstrosity that is the LG Watch Sport.
The 1.1-inch display is the same multicolor, transflective display you’ll find on other newer Garmin watches, but it’s worth noting that the Fenix 5S didn’t get a resolution upgrade. The 5S has a resolution of 218 x 218 pixels, while the 5 and 5X now have a slightly higher resolution of 240 x 240 pixels.
Huawei Band 2 Pro All-in-One Activity Tracker
The Band 2 Pro is the premier device in Huawei’s current line of fitness wearables, sitting just above the company’s regular Band 2. It aims to entice buyers away from more established fitness trackers from the likes of Garmin and Fitbit, by offering top-end features traditionally only seen in significantly more expensive wearables. Highlights include a stellar battery life, 5ATM waterproofing, GPS, multi-sport capabilities and VO2 max tracking.
If you’re on a budget,… you won’t find a better-value fitness tracker. Slightly obtuse software, a fairly clunky control system and, on occasion, hit-and-miss tracking make it feel a little less refined than its more established competitors, however. The Huawei Band 2 Pro is a fairly standard-looking wearable. The black unit I reviewed could easily be mistaken for a Fitbit Alta HR from a distance.
Featuring a small, slightly curved, rectangular PMOLED screen and unassuming black rubber strap, the only obvious design flourishes are two silver strips lining the display’s long sides. The end result is a discrete-looking wearable that can easily be worn both inside and outside of the gym without too much embarrassment. The wearable also ticks all the right boxes when it comes to hardware and durability.
Polar M400 GPS Smart Sports Watch
The Polar M400 has good battery life, can sync wirelessly with your phone, includes GPS and activity tracking, charges through a normal Micro-USB and supports wireless heart-rate monitors. It also has automatic sleep tracking, an always-on display with a backlight, inactivity alerts and is waterproof.
The watch, which can be had in either white… or black, can also be bundled with a heart-rate monitor, although this will increase the price to £170, $250 and AU$299. If you already own a chest-based heart-rate monitor, even if it’s a non-Polar monitor, it should work just fine as long as it supports Bluetooth LE (low energy), also known as Bluetooth Smart. A Garmin heart-rate sensor isn’t compatible, though, Garmin uses ANT+ technology.
On the back of the watch you have a small rubber flap that covers a microUSB port. It’s really a blessing that Polar included a Micro-USB for charging, rather than some sort of proprietary dock connector. A cord is included with the watch, which you can use with your computer or smartphone adapter as long as it outputs at least 500mA at 5V.
TomTom Runner GPS Watch
The TomTom Runner might not be the company’s first journey into the wearable tech fitness domain – it previously joined forces with Nike for the Nike+ SportWatch back in 2011 – but it does mark its first solo watch outing. TomTom has clearly seen an opportunity in the wearable market and is seizing it by the wrists.
The watch itself is made of two parts… – the core watch module and the rubber strap. The module can be easily removed from the strap when off the wrist, which you’ll need to do for connecting it up to the computer.
The Runner has a sleeker feel to a lot of rivals on the market, and feels mostly unobtrusive on the wrist. However, while you’ll likely keep your Fitbit Flex or Nike Fuelband on through the day, the TomTom Runner feels designed to be strapped on before you head out the door and taken off when you return.
Suunto Traverse Alpha
Suunto Traverse Alpha combines strong build quality with a full set of outdoor features. It is your guide in the wild, keeping you on track with GPS/GLONASS navigation. Specific fishing and hunting features provide useful tools for your activity, including moon phase calendar, shot detection, sunrise alert, weather trend, and red backlight for nighttime use.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha is a powerful GPS watch… purpose-built for hunters and anglers. Outdoor functions and specific fishing and hunting features provide useful tools for your activity. Every new Suunto product goes through rigorous testing during development both in the laboratory and out in the field. In addition to our internal testing, we let independent test laboratories put our products to the limit. See how Suunto Traverse was tested according the military standards (MIL-STD-810G).
Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR
Suunto’s latest GPS watch, the Spartan Sport Wrist HR, looks a lot like the Spartan Ultra watch that the company released last year, down to the silicone straps and large, clear display — but the Spartan Sport Wrist HR adds a heart rate monitor. This watch, designed for triathletes, is also going head-to-head against similar watches from Garmin, such as the Forerunner 735XT and the new Forerunner 935.
But although the Spartan Sport Wrist HR… has some good features, it doesn’t quite compare to its rivals. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Copper Special Edition is a premium multisport GPS watch for athletes who are driven by passion for progress. It features convenient wrist heart rate measurement, color touch screen and 100m water resistance. The Spartan Sport Wrist HR comes with 80 pre-set sport modes and rich sport specific metrics.
All Spartan Sport watches are hand-made in Finland to endure any conditions. The Copper Special Edition is available in Suunto webshop and with select retailers. These design elements are helpful, because Suunto recommends a snug fit on the wrist to get the most accurate heart rate data. There are three buttons on the right side of the watch.
Timex Ironman Easy Trainer GPS Watch
The Ironman Run Trainer 2.0 is redesigned from its earlier versions to fit both men and women. I have a very small wrist and the watch looked quite bulky on me, but it was very light and comfortable. The watch comes with access to a free online training website, so you can review post-run maps and performance data.
The watch was easy to read and interact with.… Its display is large, and has backlight for nighttime use — I found I could read it in all light conditions. There are five buttons placed around the display, and I could easily reach and press them while running. The watch can also be programmed to automatically pause if you’ve slowed down, or, start a new lap or split at your preselected intervals, so you don’t have to press a button every time.
Generally, the information provided in the quick-start guide was enough to get the watch going, especially if you have experience with other similar devices. But if you want to use all the features and don’t have patience for trial and error, it’s best to study the detailed online user manual first.