When I started my daily 10k journey, I wanted to make sure that I was able to measure the number of steps that I made every day easily. Most smartphones these days are already equipped with it. I had with me my Samsung Note 5, which was given to me as a birthday gift by my wife, Ethel. However, bringing a phablet during each walk/jog/run has its advantages and disadvantages. So, having a fitness tracker somehow seemed like a logical choice. Throughout this entire fitness adventure, I was able to experience three fitness trackers, the iFit Link, the Garmin Vivosmart HR, and what I’m currently using, the Samsung Gear Fit 2. Each one of these has their own advantages and disadvantages, and I’d like to go through each of them in the simplest way I can.
The iFit Link is an easy choice for starters. It’s comfortable, it’s small, it doesn’t look too big to be a watch, yet it did the job for me when it comes to activity tracking. However, being a data-driven person myself, I wanted to squeeze out more information, more than it can possible give. The iFit Link had four LED lights which were indicators of goals that I met on a daily basis. If I had already reached 10k, it would tell me using the four LED lights that it had. Other than that, it didn’t tell me anything more. Plus, I had to use the app that was downloadable for free, in order to check out my stats. It didn’t tell the time, but then again, it’s a fitness tracker, so if I wanted to track my steps, it did just that.
Let’s start with the easy question: How much? This cute activity tracker can be purchased anywhere between $50-$60. It came with a sturdy band that was used to house the actual fitness tracker, which was a small USB device that can also attach to any computer to be charged. The small USB device of a tracker fits snugly into the wrist band, which you’ll have to take out every now and then to charge, so it charging it became a tedious task to do once every four to five days. It did the job easily for me, and in my case, I was on my week one of my 10k challenge, so there wasn’t much to track except for my steps.
Downloading the app was also cakewalk, as it was readily available on google play and apple store. The app contained enough information for me to let me know that I was on the right track. It computed the calories burned by taking the distance, time, and pace of the route I took each day. I wasn’t able to fiddle much into the app, as I was quick to switch to another fitness watch, after about 4 days of using the iFit Link.
To be completely honest about the iFit Link, it was practical, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s just beginning their 10k steps journey, especially to those who want something that’s easy to the eyes and the wallet. It does the job, gives you the information you need, yet won’t hurt your pocket as much as the road will hurt your calves after each daily steps completion.
Garmin Vivosmart HR
This was my second fitness tracker. Had I not been particular about the LCD display, I would have stuck with this great activity device for a long time. It was easy to use, as it had a touchscreen on it which made switching from page to page easy as I jogged. But first things first. How much did it cost? At the time, the Garmin Vivosmart HR was around $150. But these days, it should be around $120 to $130 from Bestbuy or Walmart. A bit steep, considering it was just a fitness tracker…. or wasn’t it…?
To get it out of the way, I must say, I really liked this fitness tracker. It was as close as I could get to a smart watch. It gave me more information than the iFit Link, which made up for the extra beef on the price. It was had a touch screen on its face, which started with the clock and date, moving on to the more important stuff like steps taken, calories burned, and distance traveled. It also had a heart rate monitor, which was probably why the price was a bit steep for a small, monochrome activity tracker. The screen had a good backlight which activated whenever I raised my wrist to look at the time, my steps, or my most recent heart rate measurement.
The battery life was also excellent, considering the 24 hours of activity tracking it did for me, as it lasted four solid days before I had to charge it again. Had it not for three minor factors, I would have stuck with this fitness tracker for quite a while, as it did the job for me in terms of giving me data, as well as other good features like being able to control music which played on my mobile phone; the Garmin Vivosmart HR did not have internal memory to save music, so it relied on connecting to my smartphone for music, but with the capability of controlling it from the fitness tracker itself via bluetooth.
Which brings me to my next topic: the three factors that made me look at other fitness trackers. First, I didn’t like that the heart rate monitor was bulging out, which left a dent on my wrist every time I took it off to charge. Since I wore the watch almost 24/7 (I only took it off when I took a bath), the mark that the bulky heart rate monitor left was there for almost a day (that’s no exaggeration), because of the extended period of time that it was on my wrist. It was also probably the main reason why it had accurate heart rate monitoring capability, because it was buried deep into my skin, as close to my veins as possible.
Next was the monochrome LCD display. Like I mentioned before, this gadget gave me all of the information I needed for my daily run. However, it lacked a certain sense of fashion, due to the fact that it had just a monochrome display. Plus, it was made to be small to give it the lightweight feel, so the screen was so compact that it can only show one piece of information with every page I scrolled to. Clock, scroll. Steps, scroll. Calories burned, scroll. Not that it was too much effort, but I was hoping it could give me most of what I need, like a summary screen, with just a glance.
Lastly, it was too much of a price for something that did not have a built-in GPS tracker. I had to bring my mobile phone with me at all times for two reasons: Music and GPS tracking. It sort of defeated the purpose of having a fitness tracker since bringing my phone with me meant I had my S Health App with me, which tracked steps, distance, pace, and location, plus it contained my music. I sort of wanted to be able to run without carrying anything heavy, which is why I wanted a fitness tracker to begin with.
Overall, the Garmin Vivosmart HR is a good device. The downloadable app was also filled with a lot of information and historical data, and if S Health contained the same amount of information as Garmin Connect had (the app that was used with this fitness watch), then the former would have been way better. I stayed with my Garmin Vivosmart HR for about three weeks, until I started looking for something better, after I noticed one more factor to complain about, its proprietary charger, instead of the commonly-used usb charger.
Now we come to my last (to date), and favorite fitness tracker.
Samsung Gear Fit 2
I probably did about three days of research, reading reviews, watching youtube videos, before deciding on taking this as the final version of my sister Joycie’s birthday gift to me. It has already been nine weeks since I started using this smart watch and I must say that since then, I haven’t looked at any other fitness watch, nor am I thinking of switching to another one. For a neophyte runner like me, this did the job for me really well, day after day, run after run. First off, it had the same features as my previous activity tracker. It was a watch, which also gave me a step counter, my pace, heart rate, flights of stairs climbed, distance traveled, and other useful features. If there’s anything I miss from my previous activity tracker, it was just the app. The S Health wasn’t as comprehensive as the Garmin Connect, but then again, I don’t use the app when I’m running anymore, as I ran just with this watch.
The battery life was significantly shorter, a small trade-off for the curved LED screen that had vibrant colors to give me the information I need even at the very home screen. This smartwatch connected to my mobile phone either via bluetooth, or via wifi, and it gave me a quick glance of incoming messages, notifications, as well as informed me of any incoming or missed calls. With all these consuming the battery life, this fitness tracker can last up to two full days, and can even go to three days, after turning off a lot of the connectivity settings. Charging was also easy to appreciate. It came with a charging dock that the smart watch connected to easily. All you need to do is put the tracker on top of the charging dock, and it will magnetically connect and start charging immediately.
Charging time was about one full hour before this watch was ready to go again, which is why 2-3 days before charging it wasn’t such a hassle, as it only needed one full hour to charge anyway.
Next, the two missing pieces from my previous smart watch: GPS Tracking and Internal Music Playing Capability. Sure, I still needed a bluetooth headset to listen to music, but because of these two features added into this pretty gadget, I no longer had to bring my mobile phone with me on every run. I could easily access my 4GB worth of running music and play it seamlessly into a bluetooth headset which I got for free from my sister Jane. The GPS tracking had its quirks every now and then, which will indicate that it was unable to detect location, but after a quick restart, which took probably about 15 seconds, it was good to go again.
Syncing was also a good and speedy process, as it immediately updates my mobile phone of my most recent activity as soon as the two connects to each other again after I come back from my run. Which brings me to my next point: The only thing I do not like about this is the S Health App that it connected to. I mean, sure, it had a lot of useful information, but again, not as comprehensive as the Garmin Connect app. Had I been using S Health before I got exposed to Garmin Connect, I would have been happy with the app. However, I’ve already been tainted with the in-depth information that the Garmin Connect app had.
As for heart rate monitoring, it was close to the accuracy of my previous activity tracker, except it never left a dent on my wrist. The Garmin Vivosmart HR was more accurate in terms of heart rate monitoring, but I could get the same accuracy as long as I tighten the Gear Fit 2 a bit before each run. Right now, accurate heart rate monitoring was also crucial as it was used by Gear Fit 2 to calculate the calories burned along with the distance traveled, pace, and duration.
Other than some minor let-downs compared to other fitness/activity trackers, for someone like me who just started running a little over three months ago, this did the task for me remarkably well. It wasn’t a complete show-off in terms of fashion, but it wasn’t a disappointment, either. I could also easily change the face of the watch easily, as Samsung also has a lot of free watch faces available for download. As a consumer, I’m completely happy with the Samsung Gear Fit 2, and I probably wouldn’t think of switching to another fitness tracker, unless this one gets busted or dies completely.