If you’re considering between a heart rate monitor and an activity tracker, you can get both now. 2015 is the year of optical heart rate sensors and I’ve curated 8 wrist based heart rate activity trackers; the crème de la crème.
These days it’s not enough to just buy an activity tracker that tracks steps and sleep. With technological advances bounding ahead every passing day, even the 2 years old Fitbit Flex is now considered mediocre by today’s standards. Throw in training programmes like High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), P90X, Tabata and suddenly step count seem quite an inadequate measure to track activities; the gains from clocking 10000 steps in 1 hour and 10000 steps spread over a day differs significantly. Do yourself a favour and get an activity tracker that also measures heart rate.
The purchasing of an activity tracker is a very personal matter akin to buying a pair of fitting running shoes. Do your research, crawl through the reviews and put your money on the one that suits you best.
Think Forerunner 225, then give it a larger screen display and top it off with Garmin’s Elevate optical heart rate sensor technology, you get the Forerunner 235. Quite simply, Garmin had me at the larger screen. The FR 225 comes equipped with vibration and runs Mio Global sensors while the FR235 has audio beeps and runs Garmin’s in house tech. Other than that, both devices are similar in terms of features. Though the device is slated to go on sale in Q4 at the RRP of $329.99 USD, Amazon is already taking pre-orders and estimating shipping on the 2nd of December 2015. The Garmin Forerunner 235 is available in Black/Gray, Frost Blue and Marsala
Apple’s foray unto the wrist has brought about mixed reactions; you either love it or you don’t. I personally liked the activity tracking aspect of the watch with the signature “Ding!” chime to move, the vibrations and the responsiveness to touch and the heart rate measuring capability.
The current series of Apple Watch apps are still at its infancy and might have marred the user experience somewhat. The Watch OS2 will bring about more customisation, new watch faces and allow native apps to run faster on the Apple Watch directly among many other new features.
The Apple Watch remains one of the more recent activity tracker with full smart watch capabilities. The potential has yet to be fully tapped and one can only imagine what new benchmarks the Apple Watch will set in the next 6 months with Watch OS 2; at a premium of course. The Apple Watch Sports is retailing for $349 while the Apple Watch Edition Rose gold goes for $12000.
Hands down the most advanced activity tracker on the market. Skin temperature? Perspiration? Heart rate? REM sleep tracking? Checked, checked, checked and checked. The on board Body-IQ technology senses when the user is walking, running, cycling and at rest.
Since release, firmware updates have brought about smart phone notifications, transmission of heart rate data to 3rd party apps and recently silent alarm. The company is making improvements to their crown jewel though it can be painful at times waiting for updates to arrive. Now if they would just improve the mobile app interface. Nonetheless, the Basis Peak is still an excellent activity tracker that measure heart rate to consider. The recommended retail price is $199.95 USD and you can usually get it at a slight discount if you get yours from Amazon.com.
Released in tandem with Fitbit Charge and Charge HR, Fitbit Surge is the first activity tracker from Fitbit to offer GPS and heart rate monitoring capabilities during rest and exercise. With 24/7 activity tracking, smart notifications and a stellar performing mobile app platform, the Fitbit Surge is geared towards the working crowd who has outgrown your run of the mill fitness trackers. The recommended retail price is $249.95 USD and you can usually get it at a slight discount if you get yours from Amazon.com.
The Garmin Vivosmart HR is the third device in Garmin’s stable to offer wrist based heart rate monitoring. Following in the steps of the original Vivosmart tracker, the Vivosmart HR features smart notifications with vibration alerts and tops it off with 24/7 activity tracking plus heart rate measurement from the wrist at a very attractive price of $149.95. Currently the Vivosmart HR is a Best Buy exclusive until January 2016. It doesn’t have GPS but it should be interesting to see the accuracy of Garmin’s Elevate wrist based heart rate readings going head to head against Polar’s A360.
Polar’s very first wrist based heart rate monitor. The pressure is on Polar, whose name is synonymous with heart rate monitors, to set the benchmark in wrist based heart rate readings. The Polar A360 is supposed to ship in November 2015 and I’m keeping my fingers crossed I can get a unit for review quickly. Featuring smart notifications, heart rate zone training, activity tracking and even changeable wrist bands come 2016, it sure sounds exciting. The RRP is $199 USD and it is available on Amazon.com.
Microsoft’s second attempt at a wearable tracker hammers the original ill designed flat bangle to a curved form. New metrics tracked include altitude and VO2 max estimate. Partnership with Taylormade ensures golfers have more reasons than others to snag one. Like its predecessor, sample workouts can be downloaded from Gold’s gym, Shape and more onto the activity tracker where the Microsoft Band 2 can track your reps and workout. This is also one of the few trackers on the market that work on all 3 mobile device platforms; iOS, Android and Windows. The RRP is $249.99 USD but you can usually get a small discount if you get yours from Amazon.com.
About a year old now but still good and practical if you’re shopping for a wrist worn heart rate monitoring with activity tracking capabilities. Granted the activity tracking does not include sleep and the mobile app could use an overhaul, the Mio Fuse is still the one of the few wrist based heart rate monitor on this list that can transmit heart rate data via Bluetooth and ANT+. The RRP is $149 USD but you can usually get a small discount if you get yours from Amazon.com.