When spotlighting the latest wearable fitness devices for men, we could rely on attributes like size, toughness, and masculinity. Or, we could dispense with the gender-biased designations and instead focus on what men really want from a fitness tracker — durability, reliability, functionality, and a price that won’t blow their budget. These five devices hit just about every mark on the list.
In the M400, Polar adopts many of the features from its more expensive V800 multisport model, but at a more affordable price. The M400 identifies as a runner’s watch, but also ventures into other sports, including cycling and swimming (it’s water-resistant up to 98 feet). During a workout it will track metrics like distance, calories burned, pace, and altitude. The GPS will guide you through your run — and steer you home if you get lost. Once you are home, the M400 will let you know how your heart rate and pace stack up with previous runs so you can see how close you are to meeting your goals. Seamlessly sync up the M400 with your smartphone and track your progress from week to week using the customizable Polar Flow app. Even when you aren’t working out, the M400 is; it constantly counts your steps and monitors your activity and sleep. If you park yourself in front of the big screen for too long, it will let you know it’s time to get moving. The M400’s square frame is solid, without being bulky or obtrusive. The same can be said for the rubber strap, which is flexible enough that you’ll barely notice it, but firm enough to stay put for the duration of your workout. The battery lasts a full 8 hours during GPS mode — three weeks or longer if you only using it to track activities.
Vivoactive combines the best of three worlds — smartwatch, activity tracker, and sport watch. It not only tracks the pace and distance of your run, walk, swim, or golf game, but also alerts you on the track, fairway, or in the pool when you’ve got an incoming work call or email. If that call or email summons you into the office, the thin, lightweight design will tuck neatly under your suit jacket and double as a wristwatch. The Vivoactive can’t measure heart rate, but you can pair it up with an optional chest strap (for an additional cost) if you need that functionality. All of your data automatically uploads to your smartphone, where you can access it via the Garmin Connect app. You’ll get about 10 hours of battery life in GPS mode — better than most of its competitors. Yet you need to keep an eye on remaining battery life because the watch won’t warn you when it’s almost dead, and it could conk out on you in the middle of a run or swim.
A limited budget shouldn’t stop you from buying the latest fitness gadget. For less than the price of dinner, you can own a tracker that keeps comfortable pace with its competition’s functionality. Where the Flash does cut costs is in design. It’s plastic — not metal like the pricier Misfit Wearables Shine — but still sturdy and waterproof (take it straight from pool to shower). No matter what your sport of choice — running, cycling, swimming, basketball, or tennis — this tracker will hang with you. Pop out the face, attach it to a clip, and put it on the ideal part of your body for the sport you’re doing — for example, on your foot for cycling. There’s no real interface — counting the LED lights around the face is the only way to know how close you are to meeting your fitness goals without opening up the accompanying app on your smartphone. And even the app is lacking in analytical data to help you improve your performance. But the lithium coin battery is a big plus, lasting an impressive six months or more.
At first glance, the Activitè looks like a high-end wristwatch, but the elegant design belies a fairly impressive amount of fitness functionality. The Swiss-engineered stainless-steel body, scratch-resistant sapphire glass face, and calf leather strap don’t come cheap. This is one of the pricier models on the market. But the upside is you won’t have to buy another watch, because this one travels seamlessly from gym to boardroom. Then take it straight into the bedroom, where it will track your sleep and wake you with a buzz on the wrist at the appointed time. On its face, this looks like a real wristwatch. Other than the extra hand, which monitors your step progress, all the functionality is contained on the Health Mate app. Switch to your smartphone to track your stats, and see how your fitness level measures up at the end of each week. The Activitè isn’t meant for intense trainers or fitness fanatics, but it can keep up with you on a run, walk, or swim. The case is water-resistant, but you’ll want to switch to a silicone strap before diving in or risk ruining the leather.
The Fitbit Charge HR gives you a lot of bang for your buck. It’s one of the most comprehensive fitness tracking bands available, and also among the best priced. This tracker takes you through your whole day — workout, meals, and sleep. It counts steps and miles walked, calories burned, and floors climbed. It measures exercise intensity and sleep quality. The Charge will even clue you in to how well you’re eating. And unlike many of its competitors, it adds continuous, 24-hour heart-rate tracking. Once you slip it on, it will capture your peak and average heart rate in any given activity session and compare it to past readings. For fitness tracking over time, the app offers a one-page view where you can simultaneously scan calories burned, steps taken, heart rate, and other measures. The Fitbit Charge HR isn’t waterproof, so it’s not meant for shower or pool use. But it does offer a respectable five days’ worth of battery life.
January 14, 2016