Studio Spokes

Fitness watches, what’s it all about?

I’ve had a few of these so called fitness watches in the past couple of years and it’s not just because I love tech but it’s also as I’ve not been able to decide on what one is best for me. There are literally hundreds of fitness watches on the market now, all with their own USP’s and operating systems. One thing that has been the constant is the need to sync to third party software’s such as Map my Fitness and Strava. Is this a review? No, this is simply my opinion on a few products I’ve used so don’t expect an in depth understanding of each product to a technical level.

Where to begin

Where did I begin in my journey of fitness watches, well I began with an absolute gem. My Phone, of course people will be asking and thinking that’s not a watch you dingbat! Well sorry but it does tell the time and i have a strap that I run with. The only difference is the appearance and location of where its positioned. Before I decided to choose my first fitness watch I had spent years running with my phone and it worked perfectly, the only reason I needed to purchase a fitness watch was for multisport activities. Wearing a phone whilst playing squash is not an advisory position to be in, especially when puffing out of your arse running straight into walls. Enter my requirements!

Do what did I need

  • A comfortable watch that doesn’t give me sore wrists or some strange rash
  • Stylish enough to pull off wearing without Lycra
  • Under £200, I’m not paying that much money for something that will be superseeded in roughly a year or two
  • Would be excellent to track my sleep and heart rate
  • Be waterproof so I can track my swimming sessions

FitBit Charge HR

Charge-HR-Line
What a little beaut, this has been the best product I have tried if I’m honest. This was the first watch I had bought and it was comfortable, fairly stylish with a minimal bulk to my wrist and didn’t break the bank. A brucey bonus was the awesome heart rate tracker, clearly it’s not going to be super accurate but it was a constant and included tracking sleeping patterns. This was excellent to track resting heart rates, especially if you think it might be dangerous.

So why did I change if I’m praising it so much, well one thing took the shine of the product and that’s not being waterproof and I done what all super clever people do…Put it somewhere so safe that not even a jedi would find it with the force.

Clearly making a waterproof charge HR would be a fairly niche requirement but I’m a ‘casual triathlete’ and having the simple ability to track my swimming including the other activities would be a great analytical tool. I checked online and here’s the a key thing to be aware of if your also a ‘casual triathlete’:

Waterproof

  • impervious to water.
    “a waterproof hat”

Water resistant

  • able to resist the penetration of water to some degree but not entirely.
    “use a strong, water-resistant sunblock”

Unfortunately all current Fitbit products are water resistant. Let’s hope the next HR will be waterproof….COUGH

Score

8/10

Lacked some features, but ticked all the boxes I needed. Just a shame I lost it too!

Jawbone UP24

jawbone
I used this very very briefly as it was won by my mrs in a prize draw at a telecoms HQ. It lacked any on the fly tracking and left a chaffing red mark on my wrist. The battery life was epic however due to a lack of display I didn’t engage with the product. In truth this Jawbone was in the same price bracket as the HR but it felt like a predecessor. No digital screen and less comfort then an old misshapen pillow.

Score

4/10

Lacked key features and was uncomfortable.

TomTom Cardio runner 2

Runner 2
This was an interesting buy as I was hoping for something that was smart in and out of the water. I was hoping that TomTom would be fulfill and exceed the Fitbit, but it didn’t really hit the mark. The watch itself was super comfortable with a strap design that the greeks of old would of made myths about. Most the time I forgot I was even wearing the watch, not due to it’s size but just as it was so comfortable. The weight however was exceptional and as this was ever so slightly larger than previous purchases I wasn’t too sure what to expect.

This watch ticked all the boxes minus usability and constant HR. I absolutely loved the strap and the way you can customise the colour, that is fantastic however the controls and metrics of the watch are not very accurate at all, in essence much like the original TomTom’s I felt like I was stuck in the mud in a field, in the arse end of nowhere. As this was a multi sport watch I would of expected some complexity operating and choosing what I would like however there was no tutorial so it was trial and error.

About three weeks into my use I was swimming, doing some kick board work and I noticed it was completely out by around 6-8 lengths… This was so annoying as I like making sure I hit my targets, obviously I can recount it but the metric on the software would of been out. This was a known issue from the previous model and the only response TomTom used was ‘It’s in the pipeline to be fixed’. For me this was a fundamental feature of the watch and easily a P1 defect. Needless to say the lack of usability was soon topped of with the utterly useless app and online experience. Both Jawbone and FitBit have excellent apps and online experiences, TomTom’s felt like a robot from the 90’s spat it out.

Score

7/10

Comfortable and has alot of features, if you can understand the product

FitBit Surge

fitibit-surge
Finally, I’m trying the FitBit surge watch but it’s not the same as the HR, I’ve found it a bit too big and doesn’t actually have many more features than I require. It’s also not as comfortable as either the TomTom or Charge HR. I’m hoping to continue my trial and see if it improves. I’ve also contacted @fitbit to try and enquire about a ‘casual Triathletes’ watch.

Score

7/10

All the properties of the HR without the comfort

Verdict
Charge-HR-Line
My favorite has to be the FitBit Charge HR, simply due to what it does and simplicity. It’s not trying to solve world hunger like the TomTom and in this price bracket it’s now at the lower end of the spectrum so it wouldn’t break the bank. The fitbit app and signed in website are both fantastic giving a clear breakdown in modular customisable grids. Something that the competitors are lacking greatly.

The only issue I have had with the HR is the lack of ‘Waterproof’ capabilities. If a model came out that was able to count swimming lengths accurately and still be slimline then I would be all over that. Until then I think I’ll stick with the HR.

Let me know what products you guys have tried below

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Adam Spokes

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