Which fitness band is best? For this years Best of The Beach© award, we even looked at smart watches because many of the features of the fitness bands were there. The list of “wearables” keeps growing but the naked truth is we didn’t see anything that really made any one of the wearables stand out, except for one.
You can walk into any Sporting goods store or electronics store and find at least a dozen different fitness bands or wearables with tracking technology. By wearable we mean something designed to be worn and comfortable while working out. That big neoprene arm band with your Galaxy 8+ doesn’t cut it.
The big daddy of the tracking world is Garmin. The world leader in GPS technology for cars and airplanes has made a big move into the wearable world and many of their products make the cut as a good fitness band. The big advantage of Garmin is the ability to see your runs, hikes and walks and map them out. Uh sorry, get a life. Really you want to go for a hike and then map where you have been. That’s worse than taking a selfie by yourself.
Fitbit is the name that most people we interviewed could identify as a fitness tracking band. About half could correctly identify more than three features. Lightweight and among the more comfortable, the FitBit technology has significantly improved for 2015 with digital displays, although if you are over 40 it might be a bit tough to read without your “cheaters”.
The FitBit line includes small attachable pods and wristband styles, with several feature choices. If you just want to track walking and running the ultra small FitBit pod will clip on you just about anywhere you are ok with people thinking you might have a beetle crawling on you. The more expensive bands add many features, but we don’t give awards to toys that help you kill time. The simple FitBit is our runner up.
The criteria for winning a Best of The Beach© award is easy. The product needs to live up to its promise and make our lives simpler and easier. We don’t like anything that screams “it’s about me” or that gives us useless features to kill time on the subway or when you are at work bored out of your mind. We are here to find you the best so you can be the best you. If it doesn’t help you live better or be better, it won’t win. Fair enough?
Moving on to the Nike Fuel – Dead. As it should be – the EULA was the death nail to any chance of privacy you had. Nike said it had other priorities. A polite way of saying “We did it, just not right.”?
The capabilities of the Apple Watch© and the Android© wearables is really something from a tech standpoint and after interviewing several people who own them, almost none used the fitness apps. So we dropped all of them from consideration, however if iMacwear really can waterproof the M7, we’ll consider it again next year. That is a great watch-cell phone-gizmo when it works.
Jawbone, the makers of many bluetooth© toys like speakers and wireless earpieces have moved the Up© line to version 3. The major flaw with Up version 2 is comfort. The bulk and odd ends made sleeping sometimes difficult for many users. Last years upgrade of the app also moved many of the features to the cloud and took away some of your ability to use the app off line or keep your activity private. Given the lack of GPS in the Up2, we didn’t downgrade it for going to the cloud. It is easy enough to give Jawbone fake names so your data is less personal on their servers.
At Beach Street News we are not fans of anything in the cloud for two simple reasons. One companies die and change priorities and suddenly your stuff stops working. Two, we think you should own what is yours you earn it, you are it, you own it. Why trust it to anyone else. Smartphones can handle the needs for the app and did in Up1 and early Up2.
So why the change like everyone else to cloud based apps? It simple, less upgrade hassle and expense for Jawbone giving you a better price on the product. We don’t like it, but since everyone else is doing it, we can’t ding Jawbone for it. More importantly the Jawbone EULA says your information is yours. We like that.
Back to the Up3. Smaller, lighter, more comfortable and now advanced sleep tracking and heart rate monitor all for about the same price at the Up2 when it was released. The advanced sleep tracking goes beyond the old “awake”, “light” and “deep” sleep of the Up1 and Up2, and adds REM for a more accurate picture of the type of sleep you are getting.
To take it in to the winners circle, the Up3 retained our favorite feature, the smart alarm. The smart alarm doesn’t wake you up at a predesignated time, rather it uses your sleep pattern and timing to wake you at the “optimal” time up to an hour before the time you set. While this may seem counterintuitive, our testing agrees that waking on the up cycle of your sleep does help you feel more energetic when you get up. Science has proven that waking to an alarm on the down cycle causes “sleep inertia” and the snooze button is a major cause of the groggy morning. The smart alarm eliminates the groggy morning.
Additionally for those of you free thinkers that don’t work a 9-5 straight job and like to take a siesta on the beach from time to time, you will find that the smartnap feature helps you take the perfect cat nap.
The only flaw we could find with the new Up3 is the water resistance isn’t enough to surf. Maybe Up4?
For now the Jawbone Up3 wins the Best of the Beach for fitness bands in 2015.