Archive for September, 2014

Fitness Watches: a Review and Comparison

September 21st, 2014 No comments

Fitness watches are part of the latest trend back toward wrist-worn technology. You might have thought that wristwatches were going the way of the rotary dial telephone and floppy discs but wrist-worn tech is suddenly back in vogue. And there’s a great fit with fitness, especially jogging, as this is a lightweight and practical way of staying connected and measuring your activity.

Let’s check out some of the latest fitness watches on the market. Here’s a complete review to help you decide which fitness watch is the best for you. The watches we focus on here are the Garmin Vivofit, TomTom Runner Cardio and Samsung Gear Fit.


The Garmin Vivofit

This is a very comfortable watch with a small display that makes it look like just another watch on the market. The focus here is on absolute simplicity. It does not have a touchscreen or even a backlight or nightlight. This watch is focused entirely on measuring activity, with a switch that measures step count, distance, goal differential, calories burned and… the time and date. That’s it.

As sparse as the Vivofit is in features, it’s deft and nimble at getting you out and on your workout. Particularly notable is the red line that tells you that you’ve been sitting too long. When you want to run or workout the watch is ready to go with you – no messing or fussing as there is with more complex fitness watches. Because of its simplicity, this watch’s battery has been known to last as long as a year.

The Vivofit syncs with either a Garmin Connect app (assuming you have an account). Slim on features it also has the slimmest price of the most recent issues in fitness watches, under $200 MSRP.

The TomTom Runner Cardio is designed even more specifically for running, with a thicker, yet very comfortable strap, a backlight and a big, easy-to-read-while-you’re-running display. However, the navigation for this is a tad clunky. Moving through the menu is not easy and it might take you a minute to set things up before you head out. However the features are what make this so bulky. There’s an onboard GPS, a heart rate monitor, and a gage for pace, strides and even elevation. GPS mode wears out the battery but this still has a solid battery life if you’re just using it in the gym.

Wear and Working Out

This watch is not designed to be worn everywhere all the time, so if that’s what you are looking for, you may want to invest your money elsewhere. That also means that you need to remind yourself to put it on before working out and when you set the watch up for your workout, it takes a bit of navigating and setting. Your workout syncs to an app (iPhone only) or uploads to TomTom’s MySports service or to popular online trackers such as RunKeeper.

The Runner Cardio has the occasional lapse in step counting and can require an occasional reset.

The Cardio Runner is one of the most expensive of the latest collection of fitness watches; this is a commitment to fitness, at $300. As biometrics gets smarter and the market changes, the price of this and other fitness tech watches will come down.

The Samsung Gear Fit

This is the techiest watch, one that looks very go-go-gadgety. The touchscreen is curved and the interface is bright and easy-to-use. Features include a step tracker, alarm, heart rate monitor, GPS locator and controls that sync with your phone. That’s the key to this watch, it requires a Samsung phone. You’re not going to buy this unless you have a Samsung phone but if you do, this is an excellent accessory.

Once you have it set up and synced, working out is seamless. You can use it with Samsung’s S Health app, and data gets transferred to your phone regularly. The Gear Fit allows you to track progress in much greater detail than other fitness watches, with no fussing with uploading or wait times. In that way it is certainly superior to the TomTom Runner Cardio, for example. It also awards you medals for reaching goals.

The Gear Fit is known to occasionally lapse in counting and can require a reset once in a while. This is moderately priced at $200 MSRP.

brand Price Comfort Night Battery life Usability Feature set Style
Garmin Vivofit $190 5 N 5 4 2 3
TomTom Runner $300 5 Y 3 2 5 4
Samsung Gear Fit $200 4 Y 3 5 4 5

Check them out for yourself:


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