Fitness Bands 2.0
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Fitness Bands 2.0

Fitness bands might have died a quiet death but they’re slicker, better and ready for a comeback, writes Rajiv Makhni.

brunch Updated: Dec 12, 2014 20:40 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
Fitness bands

The Fitness band mania came in with a big bang and went out with a whimper. Most models were eventually dismissed as glorified pedometers – devices that had been around for years. But the fitness bands are about to fight back. This is the all new, feature-heavy, actually helpful, loaded-with-sensors band, designed to make you into a fitness junkie. It’s here and it’s about to latch onto your wrists.

Microsoft Band – Making an entrance
Microsoft arrived late to the party, but came in strong with an awesome-looking band. Unlike the typically small, dim-screened band with some dinky little numbers, this one has a gorgeous capacitive TFT 320x106-pixel full-color display touch screen. It tracks steps, workouts, runs, calories burned, heart rate, sleep quality and hours and has some awesome smartwatch functionality too.

Plus it has a built-in GPS and provides workout coaching on screen. As it’s Microsoft’s first foray into fitness bands, it comes with a serious set of problems too. The band is uncomfortable to wear and the heart sensor can be wildly off at times. It is priced at $199 but will drop to about $99 soon, owing to all these issues.

Although Microsoft Band 2.0, which tackles some of these problems, could be the one to look forward to as they seem to be on the right track with developing it.

Misfit Flash - Super Economy Champion

For some reason, the Misfit Flash dropped in price from $50 to $25 almost as soon as it was released. And that makes it very awesome. Think of the Flash as the much awarded and lauded Misfit Shine but with a plastic body.

Not a total misfit: At $25, the Misfit Flash is one of the cheapest bands to track your fitness

It is waterproof so you can wear it while swimming. It will tell you the time and count the steps you’ve taken, calories burned, distance covered, the amount of sleep clocked-in and its quality.

Because it has a coin-cell battery, the Flash will keep flashing for about six months with no recharge required. If you can get over the fact that the display takes some getting used to, get one for the whole family; $25 is chump change to get super fit. Fuse – heart in the right place

Mio is the only company that got heart-rate monitoring on a wrist-based device completely right. But that’s all they did. Now with the Fuse, they’ve entered proper fitness band territory.

Fuse is water-resistant and can be taken for a swim, it can measure distance, steps taken, calories burned, sleep quality and track heart-rate very accurately even with extreme activity. Plus, the dot-matrix display is touch and scroll enabled. It’s priced at $149.Basis Peak – gets it right this time around

The original Basis band was the epitome of what a wrist -based fitness band could do. Unfortunately, a poor design and some sensor issues marred it from achieving greatness. The new Basis Peak aims to set all that right. The optical heart-rate monitor doesn’t give up on extreme activity and the design is much better.

The screen is brighter and readable, can still read skin temperature and its resistance to electricity. It can automatically analyse what kind of activity you’re doing and is easily the most accurate sleep tracker I’ve ever used. It also has smartwatch features like notifications of incoming calls and text messages. All in all, other than a built-in GPS, the Basis Peak at $199 is the whole fitness deal on your wrist.

The Fitbit Threesome - back with a bang
The leader in fitness bands makes a huge comeback after the debacle of the Force. The Charge is what the now recalled Force should have been. The Charge HR adds heart-rate monitoring to its roster of features and the Fitbit Surge is a big badass smartwatch built around a fitness band.

The always-on heart-rate analysis is a big deal and the smartwatch features on the new Surge are actually very well built. The Surge does suffer from an old-style LCD display and the price is a bit much.

Terrific three : Fitbit, the leader of fitness bands, is back with a bang

Push – A new breed of fitness bands
The Push is the most futuristic looking fitness band I’ve ever seen. And here’s the cool part: it WON’T track your steps, distance, sleep quality, heart rate or any other activity. Just your workout with weights. It’s built to do just that and nothing else.

Its sensors will tell you how your body is performing, the level of strength and the speed with which you’re lifting, how much weight to add, how many reps to do and gives you feedback as you do it. It can help you train with full intensity, makes sure you avoid injuries and take your workout to the next level. At $189 it does what many athletes spend millions of dollars to analyse.

There are many more fitness bands coming out. The Wellograph looks amazing, but it’s expensive and needs work. The LifeTrak Move gives you heart-rate sensors for $50 but you get what you pay for. The Atlas will identify the exercise you’re doing, analyse the intensity as well as your heart rate but will cost $249.

Fitness bands 2.0 are about to be unleashed and this time they aren’t giving up without a fight. You can run but you can’t hide!

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, December 14
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First Published: Dec 12, 2014 20:30 IST