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What is a Smart Watch – and How Do I Choose One?

The word ‘smart’ is everywhere these days with manufacturers all seeking to find “the next iPhone” that takes the sector by storm. We’ve seen the development of smart home technology with colour-changing light bulbs, heating you can control from an app on your phone and security cameras that you can monitor from anywhere with an Internet connection.

Smart watches are just another evolution of the smartphone and wearables sector and these small and highly stylish devices worn on our wrists are often compatible with our other gadgets.

With so many different types and styles of smart watches on the market now that it’s easy to get blinded by the technology and not really understand what they are, what they do and how they differ.

That is at least, until now anyway.

What is a smart watch?

Just like the more traditional watch styles that we all know and love, smart watches are designed to be worn on the wrist and – somehow – contain a whole host of technology that helps us to check messages, see the time and even monitor our fitness.

With touchscreen capabilities each type of smart watch offers something different with the Apple Watch, one of the first genuine smart watches, almost replicating its smartphone features in a scaled down format. Then there are activity and fitness trackers like those made by Fitbit capable of recoding everything from our sleep patterns to how far we’ve walked in a day and workouts.

What is a Fitbit activity tracker?

 

Back in 2007 a technology company based in San Francisco called Fitbit started creating a modern form of pedometer, tracking how many steps people were taking each day on a device that also told them the time.

Over the years this clever device has evolved into one of the most stylish and desirable forms of wearable technology and a genuine contender to the Apple Watch as the leading smart watch on the market.

It’s the ability to monitor fitness levels that, for so many, makes a Fitbit so appealing. More people than ever before are looking for ways to improve their overall health and fitness and the addition of a Fitbit activity tracker to their daily routine – providing prompts to go for a walk and recording steps, calories burnt, active minutes, heart rate, workouts and even sleep patterns – has helped thousands to achieve their goals.

There is then a compatible smartphone app that helps to portray all of the data recorded in a clear and concise way. From graphs showing progress and heart rate throughout your workout to tables listing the number of steps you’ve taken in a given period compared to your friends; it’s a highly effective way of monitoring your progress and hitting targets.

How accurate is a Fitbit?

Studies have shown that a Fitbit is a highly accurate way of reading the number of steps you’ve taken and, because it sits on the pulse in your wrist, it’s very good at reading this, too.

Each Fitbit uses a three-axis accelerometer which measures body and arm movements, and the data collected is then run through a series of complex algorithms to establish exactly how many steps you’ve taken and how far you’ve walked or run.

There are some discrepancies from time to time, such as when pushing a pram or shopping trolley; with a number of activity trackers not picking up on the exact number of steps. Similarly, the number of floors climbed can be affected by atmospheric pressure changes such as gusts of wind and even opening a door!

When it comes to exercise the steps and distance can vary according to stride patterns, although you can connect your device to a GPS system to record specific routes and distances that way.

Which Fitbit is right for me?

Fitbit have released a number of different activity trackers all designed to provide the wearer with something different. Some are there to count steps and little more, while others are capable of controlling the music you’re listening to and answering phone calls.

Like most gadgets, the more you pay for your device the more you get; but that isn’t to say that those at the budget end of the scale provide the bare minimum. We recently published an article looking at what makes Fitbits so popular and how to choose the right one, with the main advice on choosing:

  • What are you looking to achieve. If it’s losing weight look for an exercise tracker that records calories and progress. If you want to use this as a multi-purpose smart watch then look for the all-singing, all-dancing versions.
  • Consider the size of the watch. If you’ve only got small wrists or if you don’t like the larger styles you can rule these out.
  • How much exercise you’re looking to do. Some models have a vast amount of capabilities, especially when it comes to recording workouts, so consider this when choosing – there’s no need to pick one that does everything just to record your steps!
  • Set yourself a budget. Every piece of tech has a price and the more tech involved, the more money you’ll be expected to pay. Set yourself a maximum allowance when shopping for a Fitbit and you can then make comparisons simpler.

How good is a Fitbit’s battery life?

 

Depending on usage levels a Fitbit battery can last for around 7-days, sometimes more. While it is constantly recording data the battery life can increase and decrease on how much you check your activity tracker, the different settings you use and the model.It’s safe to say that battery life is definitely something that smart watches have over smartphones!

 

 

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