Smartwatch and Fitness Tracker Buyers Guide

When buying a Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker you need to have a good understanding of what features you will use most. This buying guide will help you understand terminology and functionality helping you to choose the right one for you.

Finding the right smartwatch can be a daunting task for a buyer that’s unsure of all the features available and there are many, all of great use – but not always necessarily needed. Many users buy smartwatches to make a fashion statement or perhaps, some buy to keep an eye on calories or to monitor they’re heart rate during workouts.

Whatever the use case maybe it has been-noted on a number of occasions that smartwatches have helped people identify serious medical issues before they showed physical signs on the body as explained in this USA Today article. Investment in a reliable smartwatch can only be a wise move in the long run, as a wise man once said – the best investment you can make is in yourself.

Below we explain some of the most notable features helping you to choose the best smartwatch for your needs.

Satellite TrackingGPS, CLONASS & Galileo are separate satellite systems used to track and record your speed and location. With accompanying software, you can track steps, distance, lap time and route covered.

Heart rate sensor – Optical LED and LED sensors beam light through the skin and records the reflective light coming back. Variations in blood pulses under the skin determine beats per minute, the reflective light returns varied light reflections this is how the sensor detects a heartbeat.

ECG – on smartwatches such as Apple Watch Series 5 which comes equipped with an electrical heart sensor built-in with the purpose of being able to carry out an electrocardiogram. ECG used to detect any irregularities in your heart rate, at a basic level, but enough data to give you an indication to consult with your doctor if there are variances.

CellularGSM, UMTS, LTE and CDMA are bands used in the US. Check compatibility for your country at frequencycheck.com. If you are planning to buy a smartwatch internationally that supports cellular then check carefully in the manufacturer’s documentation that it supports the frequency in your country. Remember you don’t need cellular on your smartwatch as you can connect via Bluetooth if you have a compatible phone. But it is a very nice feature if it’s workable within you price range.

Connectivity – connecting devices is one of the most useful features for athletes – if you’re in the gym, running or even swimming you will want to connect your smartwatch or tracker to headphones your phone or possibly a heart rate chest or arm band. In order to do this Bluetooth (has high data transfer, you can connect multiple device in some cases, high power consumption) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is somewhat self-explanatory but cannot handle high data transfer or multiple connections. ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart transfer data from devices such as a HRM to your smartwatch.

Altimeter – is used to calculate your altitude from sea level, by measuring barometric pressure through the built-in sensor.

Accelerometer – used to measure acceleration. The accelerometer monitors your movements everything from doing ground or air sports to sleeping the accelerometer has it covered.

Gyroscope – used to measure orientation and rotation.  This sensor monitors everything from skydiving or cycling, it’s usually used in conjunction with the accelerometer.

Water resistant – IPX7: Splash Proof, IP67: 1 meter, IP68: 1.5 meters, 5ATM 50 meters, 10ATM 100 meters. Remember that manufactures advise great caution due to the possibility of the seals getting damaged in particular as devices get older or general wear and tear. 

Summary

Although many advancements are in the making with fitness trackers, to integrate more features closely aligned with smartwatches, they do lack the power to back them up to the same standard as the smartwatch. However, with that said – fitness trackers can be a perfect solution and a lot cheaper if you’re a first-time buyer, on a budget or just simple don’t need all the bells and whistles, but just want to keep an eye on your heart, exercise routine and sleeping patterns.

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