In the past three months, I’ve tested a traditional-looking watch that tracks my steps. A headband that measures my heart rate. And a new Fitbit that tracks my sleep patterns in-depth.
It’s not been a ground-breaking year thus far, in terms of wearable technological advancements. Still, among the activity trackers released in 2017, I can enthusiastically recommend the following.
1. Fitbit Alta HR
Alta HR ($150 to $180) is Fitbit’s latest device, an attractively svelte wristband that also offers continuous heart rate tracking. (Most wristbands that track heart rate are comparatively chunkier.)
Alta HR also introduces helpful new sleep tracking features: Sleep Stages, which graphically depicts your time spent in four different sleep cycles and provides benchmark comparisons to other Fitbit users in your age/gender group; and Sleep Insights — tips for improving your sleep based on your slumber patterns.
The enhanced sleep features was initially available only to Alta HR users. But they’ve since been added to Fitbit’s Blaze and are coming soon to Charge 2.
2. Mio Slice
Mio Slice ($129) assigns you a Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI) score based on your activity. The harder you work out, the higher your heart rate — and your PAI score — rise. The goal is to achieve a PAI score of 100 points or more over a seven-day period.
The PAI score focus means it doesn’t matter how you work out. It just matters that you push yourself enough to earn those PAI points. If you’re laser-focused on improving your heart health, Slice is worth wearing.
3. Polar H10
Research from the likes of The Cleveland Clinic show that chest straps, because of their proximity to the heart, give the most accurate heart rate readings among consumer devices. Polar’s H7 chest strap ($80) has been deemed the most accurate device by Consumer Reports and others.
Polar recently released the H10 strap ($90), which it claims is even more accurate than H7. I’ve been testing the H10 and find it’s just as accurate as the H7, though I can’t verify if it’s more accurate. At any rate: If getting the most accurate heart rate reading during exercise is a top goal, you won’t go wrong with either.
Three others I’ve reviewed
I’ve tested the following devices this year as well. And though each offers features I appreciated, their limitations prevent me from whole-heartedly recommending them.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.