The Latest in Wearable Tech – a Gift-Giver’s Guide

Smart wearable technology is even hotter this year – now with more options, more brands, more features, and unfortunately more confusion. It’s understandable with all our choices, what to buy can be a bit overwhelming.

The first question to ask should be what type of device to get. Consider the follow questions to figure this out:

  1. Do you want to get as much use out of it as possible or is it just for fitness?
  2. How much does style matter to you? Is it something you want to wear to the gym and out on the town?
  3. What’s your budget? Under $200? Sky’s the limit?

Today’s smartwatches have to the ability to manage just about every aspect of your life. Receive call and text notifications, measure distance and pace with its GPS tracker, track heart rate, monitor sleep, download apps, and sync it all with your smartphone. But expect to pay upwards of $300 for all that functionality.

If all you’re looking for is something to track your fitness progress and provide a little extra motivation, then consider buying a fitness tracker instead. Most track steps, heart rate, calorie burn, sleep quality, and some even provide call, text, and calendar notifications.

If form is much more important than function, then maybe investing in smart jewelry is right for you.

Below are some picks to satisfy all tastes and budgets.

Smart Watches

Apple Watch Series 2

A big improvement over the 1st generation with the addition of water-resistance, built-in GPS, brighter screen and faster processor. Although most smartwatches sport GPS functionality in its watches these days, Apple claims theirs locks in faster by pinging nearby cell towers. The Nike+ model includes all the functionality of Series 2 with the inclusion of its Run Club app and designs. But remember, you’ll need to have an iPhone to take advantage of all its features.  ($369+).

Fitbit Surge

Built in GPS, HR sensor, sleep monitoring, workout tracker (including step counter), even get call and text notifications. But unlike the Apple Watch Series 2, it’s not water-resistant and lacks Apple’s functionality. The upside: it’s much cheaper ($250). What does the rumored Fitbit acquisition of Pebble mean? If true, it’s too early to tell, but Pebble has a stellar reputation, so hopefully we’ll see even better technology coming from Fitbit in the future.

Garmin vivoactive HR

Straight up for the runner, cyclist, golfer and skier in your life. GPS, heart rate monitoring, activity tracker. Also has ability to receive call, text, and social media notifications, and has a long battery life compared to other smartwatches. ($250)

Pebble Time Steel

No GPS or HR capability. Just a solid smartwatch that pairs with Apple and Android. Receive calendar, text, email, and take incoming calls with its built-in microphone good for quick replies. Includes Pebble Health, activity and sleep tracker. Can last up to 10 days between charges. ($140)

Fitness Trackers

Fitbit Charge 2

Provides continuous, automatic heart rate tracking. Counts calories, steps, activity time, and measures sleep. Includes Connected GPS to track pace and distance in real-time. Receive text, call, email and calendar notifications. Even provides guided breathing sessions to find that moment of calm in your life. ($150)

Garmin vivosmart HR

Displays steps, distance, calories, heart rate, floors climbed and activity intensity. Receive text, call, email, and calendar alerts. Control your music from your wrist by syncing with your smart phone. Battery can last up to 5 days without a charge. ($150)

Microsoft Band 2

Continuously monitors heart rate, caloric burn, and sleep quality. Works with Windows Phone, iPhone and Android, and receive call, text, and email alerts. Its 11 sensors include a GPS, UV monitor, barometer and more. Customize your tracking based on activity type. On the more expensive side for a fitness tracker. ($250)

Withings Go

Not many frills but it gets the job done for a reasonable price ($80). Track steps, calories burned and distance. Monitors sleep quality. Easy to use. Can wear on your wrist or clip it to your pocket or bra. Its battery can last up to 8 months. Syncs with the Health Mate app.

Smart Jewelry

Misfit Ray Fitness & Sleep Monitor

Minimal but versatile. Stylish yet functional. The Misfit Ray tracks steps, calories, distance, sleep duration and quality. Pairs with iPhone and Android devices. Receives vibration alerts for calls, texts, and alarms. Never needs charging and is water-resistant to 50 meters. Can be worn as a bracelet or necklace in and out of the gym. ($70+)

Jawbone UP4

A sleek band too pretty to be listed just as a fitness tracker, the Jawbone UP4 tracks sleep patterns, heart rate, steps, calories and alerts you when you’re idle too long. Pairs with iPhone and Android. It even connects to eligible American Express Cards for easy payments at participating locations. Comes in black or silver. ($50+)

Bellabeat Leaf Nature

Wear it as a bracelet, necklace or clip it on, the LEAF tracks your daily activity, sleep, mindfulness and menstrual cycles as you wear it, and sends the results to your iPhone or Android device. Made from hypoallergenic stainless steel. ($200+)

Wisewear Calder

This stylish bracelet can alert emergency contacts with just three taps. It also tracks steps, calories, and activity time. You’ll receive iPhone or Android notifications with gentle vibration. It’s water-resistant (not recommended you swim with it though), can last up to 72 hours per charge, and made from 18k gold or palladium. ($325)

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