The "Your Fitbit Ionic is running low on battery" notification arrived on my phone and in my inbox at the same time around one yesterday afternoon, suggesting I take a moment to charge my smartwatch. Instead, I went to a couple of meetings, took the train home, went for a brisk walk with the dog, and made dinner. When I glanced at the watch again eight hours later, I'd lost only three per cent of my battery. Fitbit has solved the most critical problem of smartwatches by making a device with battery life so good you can excuse a whole melange of flaws. If every smartwatch lasted as long on a charge, we'd be in a whole new era of wearable computing.
Smartwatch and Fitness Tracker Reviews
After months of leaks and hints, Fibit has finally revealed its newest wrist wearable: The $US300 ($379) Fitbit Ionic. Fitbit claims up to four days of battery life, a refined OS that pairs nicely with devices running iOS, Android, and Windows, and a brand new sensor for tracking your heart rate. This smartwatch, which visually calls to mind the lovechild of an Apple Watch and a Fitbit Surge, is a natural progression for the huge wearable company. Just last year, it snapped up notable smartwatch makers Pebble and Vector for a reported $US38 ($48) million. And between the almost-perfect Surge and the incredibly unattractive Blaze, Fitbit has been interested in the smartwatch sector of the wearable market for a while. This is the culmination of that interest. It's profoundly ugly — like every Fitbit that's come before, but it could be technologically cool enough that you might not care.
Movado makes nice watches. On the scale of Walmart special to "oh god what happened to my bank account," its watches are priced firmly in the middle. They're fashionable and can last for decades, but they also don't cost the same as half a year's rent. Movado is also known for design. It's most famous watch — the Museum Watch — has been in the collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art since 1960 as an icon to midcentury design. That's a rare feat for a modern timepiece. So Movado building a smartwatch is important, because if anyone can figure out how to make these things look cool it's this Swiss watchmaker.
Do you want to get fit? We all do, really. Do you want to know exactly how far you're walking — or not — each day, and to know exactly how long you're sleeping — or not? How about your heart rate after all those coffees? Fitbit's latest Alta HR fitness tracker is by far its most refined device yet, and one of the first we'd actually recommend for the everyday wearer doing everyday things.
Let's face it, the world of fitness trackers has sort of plateaued. Most people who want a fitness tracker already have one, and more than a few of us have old trackers shoved away in a drawer, useless because the charging cable mysteriously disappeared, or because the company who made it decided it didn't care anymore and killed the software (RIP Nike FuelBand).
The smartwatch and fitness tracker markets might be in a race to the bottom, but that hasn't stopped Huawei, the Chinese phone maker, from tossing a watch-shaped tracker into the mix. It's an interesting tack for a company known primarily for its phones (and barely known at all in the US). If this thing takes off when it appears in Best Buy today, and other big box retailers later this year, then it's a whole new introduction to America for Huawei. And what a wonderful introduction at that. The Huawei Fit looks like the Pebble Round smartwatch, functions like a Fitbit Charge, and costs less than both.
I was very impressed with the Apple Watch Series 2. It added GPS and waterproofing and became a far more effective fitness tracking tool. But there's another new Apple Watch, and this one has even more sporting cred. Nike's take on the Apple Watch adds a fancy lightweight band and two exclusive watch faces, but is that a good enough reason to choose one over the equally priced regular Watch?
When it comes to choosing a smartwatch, do you really need to spend $500 on a device that almost does more than your phone — including reminding you to breathe? No. The Pebble has always been about simplifying the smartwatch, and even with improved fitness features, the $US129 Pebble 2 remains exactly as much smartwatch as you really need.
My Apple Watch has taught me a lot of things. It's taught me that I can hit about 40km/h flat out on my cheap fixie bike before I run out of legs. It's taught me that my exercising heart rate is really kinda high and I should probably see a doctor. It's taught me that taking a minute out of each hour to walk around is really quite a good idea, but taking a minute to focus on my breathing just leaves me light-headed. Apple's newest and most fitness-focused wearable is, on paper, a small improvement from the original — but those improvements under the hood translate to a massive increase in usability.
After two years in the wilderness — so to speak — Fitbit has a replacement for its now-middle-aged Charge and Charge HR fitness trackers. The new Charge 2 adds GPS tracking for your workouts — although not built into the wristband itself — and a host of other fitness tracking software features, like a new Cardio Fitness Level metric for you to base your overall fitness on. The hardware has evolved, too, with a bigger screen and removable wrist straps. One of the best fitness trackers you could buy is now even better.
Samsung's Gear S3 is a small evolution from the Gear S2 announced exactly one year ago. The software is very similar, and the processing hardware hidden away inside the watch's casing is nearly identical as well. But small evolutions can still be significant, and the Gear S3 is the first Samsung smartwatch that I'd consider wearing for more than a couple of weeks at a time.
There's never been a better time to utilise technology for health and fitness purposes. Fitness trackers are, by far, the most common piece of wearable tech available, letting you track your movement and activity as you go about your business – and all you have to do is remember to charge it and put it on in the morning.
But the fact that they're so common is somewhat of a downside, since, as a consumer, it can be difficult sorting the good from the bad. How do you know which ones are actually worth going out and buying? That's why we took a look a seven of the latest trackers from big-name companies to work out which ones are worth getting your hands on.
Despite the name, smartwatches can be kind of dumb. Sure, they can do cool things, like control your music and put notifications on your wrist. But battery life woes and underwhelming platforms leave you questioning the real IQ of these supposedly "smart" devices. However, there is a road less travelled: an area unexplored by big tech giants, where people can revel in functioning wristputers without being stuck in a technological mire.
"For gamers, by gamers" is the kind of motto that sells liquid-cooled spec-obsessed towers, headsets, rumbling lounge chairs, and ergonomic mice with more buttons than a double-breasted suit. Razer, however, has these words stamped into the back of its wearable Nabu, which it'd like to remind us is not a smartwatch, but a watch with smart features.