Sony SmartBand SWR10.
Sony SmartBand SWR10.

Track fitness on the run

Not too keen to jump on to the 'smartwatch' bandwagon, but a firm believer in the 'health is wealth' philosophy? Consider investing in one of these bands

For most people, the word “wearable" is synonymous with smartwatches (and is going to be even more so with the Apple Watch), but well before these smartwatches became the rage, the world was already trying out a host of wearable devices to track fitness. We are not talking about mere pedometers, but devices that actually did things like check activity levels and calories burnt.

 Among the devices that are crowding the market now, these five stand out.

Sony SmartBand SWR10

5,990

Perhaps the most basic of all the devices mentioned, the Sony SmartBand is essentially a small core
component that is
fitted into a band you wear on your wrist. There is no display whatsoever, although there are three LEDs on the side that light up to show battery status and notifications. The band pairs with your Android device using Bluetooth or near field communication and then gives you details of your day using Sony’s Lifelog application, which is quite spectacular (it’s available for free on the Google Play store); you can see a figure representing you walking, running, working, even sleeping through a day. You can also find out how much time you spent on different applications on your phone.

 Hard-core fitness experts may not like it too much since it seems to put greater stress on documenting your life rather than counting calories, but it is an excellent option for those who want basic information about their lifestyle. Just be ready to recharge it a couple of times a week.

Garmin vívofit

9,990

Garmin is best known for its GPS-based devices, but it also has a formidable presence in the fitness sector with its Vivo range of devices. The vívofit is a fitness band ideally meant to be worn around the wrist (it has a core component that you can pull out of the strap and keep elsewhere on your person, if you wish), and pairs with your Android and iOS devices to record information about your activities. What places it a few steps ahead of something like the SmartBand is the fact that it comes with a display which shows not just the time, but also the distance travelled, steps taken and calories burnt—even if you do not pair it with a phone. You can, of course, pair it with a phone or even a PC (using the adaptor that comes in the box), check your data using the Garmin Connect app, and even challenge other Garmin users in the online fitness community to reach targets, if you are the social type. The battery lasts for close to a year, does not need to be charged at all, and can be replaced easily. A red band provides a neat touch—it appears whenever you are inactive, subtly asking you to get a move on.

GOQii

6,999 (six-month subscription) and
11,999 (12-month subscription)

If you think most fitness bands are too impersonal, or if you just don’t feel up to getting into a fitness routine without real human supervision, then the GOQii band is your best option. The device, which comes with an Oled display and a 360-degree motion sensor, can be worn on one’s wrist or kept in a pocket.

 Yes, it too records your activity, but adding a spin to the experience is the fact that this information is being shared with a proper human coach. So while you can see how far you have walked or run, so can your coach. And he/she can send messages advising you to get a move on, take a break, even throw in some diet tips. Some might find it spooky, but many like the idea of having a fitness supervisor almost round the clock. You can continue to use the app once your subscription has expired, but honestly, the real magic of the device is its human element. Battery life is decent at about four-five days for a single charge.

Mymo

3,999 per year (without human intervention)
and 9,999 per year (with coach and doctor)

Taking a middle path between the Garmin vívofit and the GOQii is the Mymo, a handy little bulb-shaped gadget from technology firm Tupelo. Comprising a core unit that the company recommends you wear from the waist (it claims it measures activity better from there), Mymo works equally well for those who like to work with supervision and those who do not—you can opt to share your activity
with fitness and health experts, or simply stick to doing your own thing by using the TupeloLife app that works with both iOS and Android.

 What’s more, you can actually earn points and redeem them (buy groceries, air miles, etc.) using the MyMiles Rewards plans by simply being active. No, it does not have a proper display, but it has indicator lights that let you know if you are close to achieving your target for the day or are well off it. Like the GOQii, it too works on a subscription model, albeit a less expensive one. Unlike it, it has a battery that needs no charging and can last up to six months.

Samsung Gear Fit

8,500

Is it a smartwatch or a fitness band? Well, Samsung’s wearable is a bit of both. Yes, it has its own apps and can pair with a phone and fetch email alerts and social network notifications and the like, but it also comes with an optical heart-rate sensor, and software that not only measures your activity but can also make recommendations about what to do next. With its curved Amoled display, it is easily the most attractive among all the devices we have mentioned, but it works only with a limited number of Android devices and has a battery that needs to be recharged almost every second day if you keep it running round the clock.

To buy a smartwatch or not?

Of course, there will be those who will wonder if they would be better off with a “proper" smartwatch instead of investing in a fitness band—after all, most smartwatches also come with some fitness apps. While smartwatches can serve as fitness monitoring devices, most cost a lot more than a fitness band (a current-generation smartwatch will set you back by anything upwards of 12,000) , depend too much on connectivity to a mobile phone and generally have battery life that is significantly worse than that of a fitness band. Yes, you can do more than just track your fitness on a smartwatch but, on the flip side, you are likely to end up with something that depends heavily on being connected round the clock to a handset and which costs more than a fitness band. Oh, and most smartwatches do tend to be bulkier than fitness bands.

Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com

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