If you're looking for the best overall fitness tracker, look no further. The Garmin Vivosmart is currently as good as it gets for activity trackers. I've tried the Fitbit Charge, Fitbit Charge HR, Misfit Shine, Garmin Vivofit 2, Mio Alpha 2, Mio Fuse and now have held onto the Garmin Vivosmart.
The others came close, but possessed certain flaws that turned out to be deal breakers for me. The Misfit Shine came in at second place. It's comfortable, simple and records just about any activity including sleep. The deal breaker: the circular tracker has the ability to fit into a wristband, pendant or shoe fob. Unfortunately, it comes out of the wristband quite easily and can easily be lost.
The Fitbit Charge and Charge HR had great potential. The app was the most fun to use out of the bunch and it tracks extra stats like stairs climbed and constant heart rate (with the HR version). However, the screen scratches easily, the band is rather wide and you're not able to shower or swim with it on.
The Mio Alpha 2 and Fuse are very convenient heart rate monitors but poor fitness trackers. The wrist based heart rate monitor worked very well even at high activity levels and with weight lifting. The Fuse tracks daily activity fairly well but currently misses out on sleep tracking. The app is rather useless and basic. Both are bulky units and thus usually sat on my desk until I was ready to go to the gym. If you're looking for a workout tracker they're great, but if you want a daily activity and sleep tracker I'd look elsewhere.
Now to the Garmin products. I really wanted to love the Vivofit 2. It has a battery life of over a year, is waterproof, has an always on screen and features an innovative clasp which should stay on through any activity. The device, unfortunately, sits rather high on your wrist and isn't quite as streamlined as something like the Shine or Fitbit. While at the gym or working on patients I noticed it would press very hard into my wrist because of that.
The Vivosmart does much more than Vivofit 2 while also shedding the bulk. The Vivosmart is thinner and sits lower on your wrist. I noticed right away that it was much more comfortable than the Vivofit 2. The Vivosmart receives smartphone notifications including texts, email, Facebook and Twitter. The Fitbit Charge only notifies of calls. The Vivosmart has less battery life than the Vivofit 2 and Misfit Shine but I've noticed better life (8 days) than the Fitbit or Mio units. The "move bar" gets you off your butt by vibrating if you're sitting too long. The device also vibrates for notifications and with the alarm clock feature. The touch screen on the Vivosmart works flawlessly even in the shower and blows away the lousy touch screen of the Mio Fuse. The Garmin sleep tracking graph isn't quite as nice as Misfit but I think it's more detailed and useful compared to Fitbit. The Garmin Connect app isn't nearly as pretty as Misfit or as socially connected as Fitbit, but all in all it gives me the information I'd like to know.
Best of the bunch: Garmin Vivosmart
Pros: Waterproof. Smartphone notifications. Comfortable. Good battery life. Sleep tracking. Vibrating alarm clock.
Cons: Lack of strong social network. Screen not always on.
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Thomas R. Pellatt, DC
Chiropractor and Owner of ChiroElite Chiropractic + Rehab in Altoona, WI