2015 Best Fitness Tracker | Up3 Apple FitBit Microsoft

Rod Ferris November 8, 2014 2

Introduction

Preface

Before I begin talking about my comparisons I want to discuss how I’m comparing these and what type of person should consider my ranking valid. Also, I am calling these 2015 fitness trackers as most of them won’t be available for you to get your hands on until then.

Who is this comparison for?

A Fitness enthusiast that doesn’t want to wear multiple devices on their wrists yet wants the most functionality in one wrist device.  This person also wants style but since all the devices discussed are ‘pretty stylish’ this isn’t an issue.  Style is also in the eye of the beholder so I won’t be focusing on that.

Functionality

Collecting as much data about your habits and physical self requires sensors built into the devices.  Some devices lack certain sensors which may be beneficial in coaching you to help motivate you to become healthier.  Our focus is on the important ones which will help you create actionable change towards a new you.

Why only these devices

There are now way too many choices to pick from but these four have the most intriguing sensors for physical change which is the goal of all this.  Also, only devices that are worn ALL the time (no clip ons) were considered.  The clip ons require too much effort versus something that can just work and make recommendations.

Jawbone Up3


Link

Style

This device is the second most stylish of the bunch.  It doesn’t show a big screen like the others show and for some people that are more against flashy wrist watches it provides a good solution.

Price

The price is actually right-on based on the fact that it’s a fitness only device and won’t control other apps, show you notifications, etc.  It is attractively priced considering the technology and coaching features.  Upon first glance it will be tough to justify this price over the older trackers.

Motivation

This device has some revolutionary features embedded inside which gives the capabilities of this device a pretty exciting future.  With the right trainers behind creating an algorithm to suggest timely physical actions it is definitely the most motivational device on the market.

Other Uses

This device is mainly used for optimizing one’s fitness and not for anything other than that.  I would NOT suggest getting this if you were hoping for a notification forwarder.

Waterproofing

Yes, this is completely waterproof which gives it a major advantage over the others.  Wearing a Pebble for some time I have realized that I don’t think I can purchase anything but a waterproof device.

Battery Life

This is the biggest advantage over the other guys.  With the exception of the latest R450 by Lifetrak it has an incredible 7 day battery life.

Other

Automatic Heart Rate: Since this device monitors your heart rate automatically it can also determine your resting heart rate without you guessing when you are at rest.  It will therefore know when your heart has gotten stronger.

Coaching: This feature is the most anticipated part about this device for me.  Having real-time suggestions about the data that is changing right now will have the greatest impact on physical behaviour.

Microsoft Band


Link

microsoftbandreviewInitial thought

This is for Windows products only.  Actually, it’s not, it’s for everyone but I don’t think I would consider this if I had an Android or iOS.  There is clearly just a better option available (Jawbone UP3).

Style

Since the device needs to be worn with the screen touching your arm rest or table it’s going to always show the bulge at the top of the device.  It’s not exactly a ‘looker’ based on that.  If you look at it with your hand turned it is halfway between a smartwatch and a Fitbit Flex but much bulkier.

Waterproof

This device is water resistant which means that you can’t go swimming or pour water on top of it.

Battery Life

Early reviews indicate that the battery lasts about a day and a half

Other

Since the band has an active heart rate, GPS and UV monitor it can let you know what to do at any point in the day.  Also, they have paired up with Men’s Fitness and others to provide coaching.

Summary

Microsoft is trying to adapt faster than the new Kickstarter projects which isn’t an easy task for a massive corporation.  This product is their first demonstration of that leading the pack (finally) with technology that is competitive, different, and useful.  If this was a Siri or Google Now product I would jump on it.  Windows users should definitely purchase one of these.

Fitbit Surge


Link

Style

I am currently wearing a Pebble watch and a Flex on my other arm but this could combine the two for most people.

Other Uses

While it doesn’t have all the apps that the Pebble has it does have a lot of other things that I appreciate: texts, notifications and music control.

Fitness Tefitbit-surge-reviewchnology

The Fitbit Surge has a lot of things going for it but I was still hoping for more.  With the rumors of  ‘blood glucose’, blood oxidation, perspiration monitoring, etc., it is unfortunate that we will have to wait a few more generations for it.

Waterproofing

The device is 5 ATM so you could swim with it.

Battery Life

They currently talk about a seven day battery life which is incredible and on par with my current Fitbit Flex.

Other

Since this device is bigger and seems bulkier than even my Pebble I can’t see replacing it with a Surge.  It doesn’t have all the apps I need and the control that I use for my home automation.  However, to those who aren’t looking for such sophistication it could be a good option.

Summary

The best part about the Fitbit is that it does everything well and isn’t a specialist.  It’s not the one with the most apps or the most stylish, but it is the one that is going to do a lot of things and hopefully motivate you to change your body.  I realize that some of you may dispute the review saying that it doesn’t deserve fourth.  Well, I can tell you that a lack of waterproofing, no new sensor tech, bulky looks, and with no HealthKit integration planned there are definitely downsides.  Let’s hope they don’t have another ‘#skinrash’ issue with this one.  I was a sufferer with the Flex and it was itchy with major redness.

Apple Watch

Link

apple-watch-fitness-tracker-reviewStyle

Arguably the most stylish of the bunch with tons of options to suit your needs and your budget.  Want gold, steel or the cheaper durable plastic?  All available.

Overall Motivation

Since this product hasn’t arrived yet we are only going on what we know from the videos available to us.  I’m willing to bet EVERY major fitness app and company will have some sort of app that can interact with the watch to make fitness easier without pulling out your watch.  Motivation to exercise will be dependent on which ecosystem and apps you choose.  You could have Withings, Fitbit, Jawbone or Nike.  For this reason we gave it a 4.5 out of 5.

Other Uses

As much as the iPhone changed the way we do things, so will this watch.  I don’t think people realize the ease of having Siri on your wrist mixed with real-time video.
Fitness Technology

As mentioned, the actual sensors aren’t top notch when compared to the Jawbone but being able to connect to other devices which could provide those services could offset the advantage that the Jawbone has.

Waterproofing

This is my biggest gripe with this watch.  I’m not sure I would get a device that I couldn’t drop my hand in a tub with.  I’m actually shocked they didn’t say that even if they need to ship another month later.  I believe it’s extremely important to have in a watch that can be worn all the time.

Battery Life

The battery life is pretty abysmal at one day.  Tim Cook said that you should be prepared to charge it daily so I would imagine that you’ll be lucky if you can make it a whole day.  I usually don’t make it a whole day with my iPhone so I would assume it will be similar.

Other

Since this device has Siri built-in, it provides the user with more functionality than all the aforementioned devices.  Having an all-in-one device also makes this much more attractive for the average fitness enthusiast or early adopter.

Summary

I was really disappointed that the Apple Watch didn’t come with any revolutionary sensors.  There were some pretty awesome rumors that it would come with glucose, blood pressure and a few others.  Those alone would have a major change in how we eat.  With the inclusion of HealthKit in iOS 8, the Apple Watch and all the Health apps can now talk to each other very easily.  I’m very excited about that feature alone.  Until the Apple Watch happened everyone was focused on steps which really weren’t going to change your body the way intense exercise will.

Conclusion

jawboneup3firstFor the user that NEEDS data

The Jawbone UP3 has the ability to change the way health coaching and medical doctors advise patients.  I hate to use the term ‘paradigm shift’  as usually new devices are slight changes on old technology (accelerometers) but the UP3 has the potential to do so.  Assuming they can integrate the right recommendations and add HealthKit and other apps people WANT to use with their data it could really change the way we manage our health.  Knowing exactly when and if our bodies are burning calories (change in skin temperature versus ambient temperature and combined with a respiration sensor) is a major underestimated difference between other trackers.  It is unfortunate that most people will not realize the power of having these sensors until the actual coaching is fine tuned and they time notifications when we are motivated and have time to act on it.

For the user that NEEDS functionality

The Apple Watch is going to provide you with productivity, communication, entertainment and games on your wrist.  The terrible battery life will be forgotten when you realize that you don’t take your phone out for the most common tasks.  Having a progress bar, exercise demonstrations and tips for real-time actions makes this the MUST have device if you don’t need every data-point available (see above).

For the fitness generalist

The Fitbit Surge is the one you want as it provides almost everything in a neat little package without getting into any tweaking and too many features.

For the Windows user

If you are an early adopter you need to have the Microsoft Band.  Otherwise you should wait for V2 or V3 to come out when the hardware has evolved.

Let Us Know!

Let us know what you think in the comments below and why  you would choose one over the other.

2 Comments »

  1. Crimmer January 4, 2015 at 7:07 am -

    I have a question on the jawbone up3. I had the jawbone up24 and it didn’t seem to last very long before it broke down. I had it replaced 2 times with an average lifespan of 3.5months (problems with the button mostly). Seems to happen to quite some people, maybe not as short as mine were, but a lot dont last over a year. I’m scared the same thing will happen with the new jawbone. Do you have any insight as to the lifespan? Thanks.

    • Rod Ferris January 5, 2015 at 6:09 pm -

      Hi Crimmer,

      I totally agree with your concerns. I have an UP sitting in the drawer that was replaced three times until I just gave up and bought the Flex. While I think it’s an awesome device there is a lot to prove from Jawbone from the ‘Durability and Reliability’ side of things. They do have excellent customer service though and will most likely always fix your device. I think the issue is more “are you willing to send it in to get a new one every 3-4 months?”