Before wearables (aka glorified pedometers) blew up, I used an app called Moves to figure out how many steps I took per day. I also used the Nike Running app whenever I felt like running which was almost never and eventually got deleted. The problem with both of these apps was that they had to be in my pocket or strapped to my arm respectively. So I ended up getting my first fitness tracker in 2013 in a vain attempt to be as athletic as I was in high school. That motivation to go to the gym everyday lasted about 2 weeks. But it’s been up and down ever since then so I shouldn’t really complain since I’d like to think I’m on an upswing right now.
I initially got my Fitbit Flex in late October 2013. I had just gotten gym membership at 24 Hour Fitness and took about 2 weeks decide between the Flex, Jawbone Up, and Nike FuelBand. I didn’t get the Up mainly because I needed to physically connect it to my phone to have it sync. No self respecting millennial has time to do that! (I’m kidding, I was just lazy) The FuelBand seemed bulky at the time and while I liked the built-in USB plug, can we talk about how arbitrary NikeFuel points are? Also, they stopped developing new software so that was a good call. So a Flex it was for me up until it wasn’t flexible anymore and the strap broke. Fast forward 3 replacement straps and 1 barely working charger cable later, I was pretty ready to move on from that.
Faced with a choice between the Charge or Charge HR, I picked the former. I didn’t want my Charge to replace my watch and I felt like the Charge HR might have done just that. Also, the heart rate monitor doesn’t stop blinking and gets distracting when it’s charging at night. I’m quite happy with my Charge and although it’s bulky, I like that it displays information for me, the most useful being the caller ID ironically. The watch is also good when I’m at the gym or playing badminton, while I’m not wearing a watch and/or not close to my phone. Automatic sleep tracking was also a big plus for me since I usually forgot to double tap the Flex before going to bed.
So here’s the dilemma: By the time the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016 finished until now, a few more wearables were unveiled with upgraded features and design. Two that caught my eye were the Fitbit Alta and the Misfit Ray.
The Alta looked to be a hybrid of the Flex and Charge. It seems like everything a Charge is but smaller and without the altimeter to count the number of flights of stairs climbed. The Alta also has replaceable straps that looked sturdier than the Flex straps which probably give way when it requires charging. It has automatic exercise recognition which is super convenient because I usually forget to turn that on when I go for a run (read: if I ever go for a run which is why I always forget). This could be a good replacement for my Charge when it eventually breaks down although an even newer wearable will probably come out by then.
Then I saw the Misfit Ray and I immediately fell in love with the ultra low key design. It’s basically the Fitbit Flex but a lot more stylish. I would say it really fits for people who don’t want their wearable to look like a wearable. The Ray doesn’t come with a charging cable because it runs on watch batteries! It’s also waterproof unlike most of the Fitbit products so it works well for people who enjoy the water (not me). I really like the design more than the Alta but I do want to have a display for the data. So that’s why I’m torn between the two 😛
The devil’s advocate in me was pretty interested in the Atlas Wristband as well. What started as a crowdsourced project on Indiegogo now competes for market share in the over saturated wearable market. I think a big advantage for the Atlas Wristband is that it also tracks weight lifting stats and calisthenics (for those who do more than just cardio). It also has on-device editing for people who really want to make their data super accurate. Lastly, it doesn’t use a proprietary charger and uses any micro USB charger you have on hand. Sadly, I don’t do as much weight lifting to justify the purchase of an Atlas Wristband.
Why not an Apple Watch or the Fitbit Blaze? I believe that an actual smart watch needs a charge everyday. I don’t think I’m ready for that kind of commitment with a watch. My phone, yes. A smart watch, it’ll take a bit more time for me to get used to that. No pun intended. I also like to change watches depending on what I wear for the day so I still really prefer an old school analog watch. Yay for not completely being an iSheep anymore!
In the end, there are days when I meet my step goals especially when I play badminton and some days that I catch up on much needed sleep. Some good days when all fitness goals are met and some days when I forget to charge the Charge that no data gets recorded. Using a wearable has actually started conversations for me especially when the trend was just starting so my awkward self thanks technology for that. With that, it’s time for me to start hitting the gym again because as you all know, I’m matakaw but I also have to maintain my health after eating a lot :]