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Ask Slashdot: Are There Any Good Smartwatches Or Fitness Trackers? 254

"What's your opinion on the current state of smartwatches?" asks long-time Slashdot reader rodrigoandrade. He's been researching both smartwatches and fitness trackers, and shares his own opinions: - Manufacturers have learnt from Moto 360 that people want round smartwatches that actually look like traditional watches, with a couple of glaring exceptions....

- Android Wear 2.0 is a thing, not vaporware. It's still pretty raw (think of early Android phones) but it works well. The LG Sport Watch is the highest-end device that supports it.

- LTE-enabled smartwatches finally allow you to ditch your smartphone, if you wish. Just pop you nano SIM in it and party on. The availability is still limited to a few SKUs in some countries, and they're ludicrously expensive, but it's getting there.

Keep reading for his assessment of four high-end choices -- and share your own opinions in the comments.
The original submission includes this summary:
  • The Samsung Galaxy Gear S3 is the one to beat right now. It's the coolest one, features all sensors you find in a smartphone, an LTE version, fitness apps, works with Android and iOS, etc. Only cons are the price and the Tizen OS.
  • The Apple Watch works with iOS only and is almost useless without being paired with an iPhone. It's big, square, and nerdy-looking.
  • LG Smart Watch Sport is the flagship Android Wear 2.0 device. It works as an extension of your smartphone, with notifications, the array of Google services, even including a rather neat touchscreen keyboard with handwriting recognition (yes, it works pretty well).
  • The Fitbit Ionic was actually the result of Fitbit's acquisition of Pebble (yes, the Kickstarted company), and it's a fitness tracker first and smartwatch second, but it's a damn fine device. It looks even more nerdy than the Apple Watch, like some Star Trek device, and it's crazy expensive, but its fitness functionality is second to none. If you need the best fitness tracker money can buy and don't care about looking like an 80's nerd, then this is it."

And it ends with the following observation: "In a day and age where tech companies offer too little in exchange for too much money (hello, Google Pixelbook, the $1000 notebook that only runs a web browser), we need to weigh our options carefully. With the exception of Apple Watch, all brands, not only the ones I listed, offer cheaper options with fewer features to accommodate every budget. The purchase decision, as with everything tech, depends on the features you want at the price you're willing to pay."

So what do Slashdot's readers think? Are there any good smartwatches or fitness trackers?

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: Are There Any Good Smartwatches Or Fitness Trackers?

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Fitness trackers offer no weight-loss benefit and can make users fatter - study from University of Pittsburgh published in JAMA.

    It is a waste of your money and time.

    • No, that's not what the study said.

      https://skeptics.stackexchange... [stackexchange.com]

      • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )
        Weight loss and fitness aren't directly related anyways. Weight is more a result of diet than exercise.
    • I have anecdotal evidence that says otherwise. I've lost 50 pounds in the last year, and I'd give some of the credit to fitness tracking. Once I was collecting data on my health, the part of me that used to obsessively play CRPGs took over, and I started trying to improve all my stats. I believe taking regular measurements and gamifying the whole thing really helped me achieve my goals.

      Now you can point out that it's only anecdotal evidence, but you shouldn't always ignore anecdotal evidence. If fitness tracking worked for one person, that means it can work. It just might not work for everyone in all situations. I could see someone thinking, subconsciously, "Well I'm tracking my fitness now, so I'm going to get healthier, so I don't have to worry as much about my diet and exercise." Obviously that's not going to work. Still, even if it turns out to be generally true that fitness trackers don't lead to weight loss, I'm pretty sure it's not true that fitness trackers can't offer weight-loss benefits.

      • I purchased an Apple Watch 3 in October. I let it be my task master in the beginning and made it my goal to close all 3 rings. Iâ(TM)ve done so on all it 4 rest days. And, I have gone from 235 to 225. I am also seeing my glucose levels in the âoenormalâ range of 95-130 and reduced my meds for Tupe 2. My clothes fit better and I have to replace my dress shirts that now fit me like a tent. My suites all fit well again as well.

        Is the watch the reason? Not directly. But, it did effect a beh

  • Apple Watch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 10, 2017 @07:58AM (#55709987)

    The Samsung Galaxy Gear S3 is the one to beat right now

    The Apple Watch [is] big, square, and nerdy-looking.

    The Apple Watch comes in two sizes, both smaller than the Gear S3. Why don't you just admit that you've already written the Apple Watch off as not for you and ask "are there any Android compatible smartwatches"? Because that's really the question you are asking, isn't it? Otherwise the answer is the Apple Watch. It's clearly far beyond the competition.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Indeed - the whole submission is filled with trying to claim that no one wants a watch that's like the Apple Watch, despite it being the best selling smart watch by a massive margin, and the entire android market being basically dead because it's doing so well.

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        That's much like saying you're the best IT geek in Elbonia.

        As a fitness device, an Apple watch is gross overkill. For some people, all of this stuff is old news and Apple was last to the party.

        For many of us the computer-as-watch still seems like the same kind of gimmick it was when it was first done with Linux 20 years ago.

        • Ca. 1978, I recall the computer as checkbook balancer.

        • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

          That's much like saying you're the best IT geek in Elbonia.

          If that IT geek is getting more business than anyone else in the world, sure.

        • Just because you are last to the party, does not mean you are not the life of the party...

          Smartwatch segment was basically fallow and tiny before Apple Watch showed up to the party. I say that as someone who had a now-gone Pebble... there's a reason why Apple Watch sales are a huge percentage of the market.

          Also it's not true Apple is last, other watch companies also slowly delivering competing concepts.

    • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday December 10, 2017 @01:14PM (#55711115)

      If you are really serious about wanting a fitness tracker, the Apple Watch is so much better than any other choice that in fact it makes it worth getting an iPhone - so that requirement in a way does not matter.

      Be aware though that telephone carriers all charge $10/month for the LTE version, which is even more after the taxes are added on. But still, if you want an always connected watch where you do not have to have the phone with you it may be worth it.

      • If you are really serious about wanting a fitness tracker, the Apple Watch is so much better than any other choice

        What makes it so much better? And are you including dedicated fitness trackers?

        • What makes it so much better? And are you including dedicated fitness trackers?

          Yes I've also tried FitBits. The Apple Watch is much better simply because it's vastly more flexible. You get a large variety of task dedicated UI's for just about any activity - they can take the form of either custom watch apps or simply customized faces with various bits of data about what you are doing (the latest watchOS made it really simple to switch between faces making dedicated watch faces more useful). All of the da

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The Apple Watch will lock you in to using an iPhone as well, because it needs to be paired with one to be useful.

      And like all smart watches, the fitness tracking is bunk. The heart rate sensors are all wildly inaccurate, the only to get a good reading being a chest strap device. Step counting is a poor proxy. About the only useful function is GPS tracking your run, but a watch is a poor way to do that.

      • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

        The Apple Watch will lock you in to using an iPhone as well, because it needs to be paired with one to be useful.

        And buying an Xbox requires purchasing Xbox games in order to be useful. No one ever whines about that, though.

      • Iâ(TM)m curious why you think the heart rate sensors are so inaccurate. Most reviews Iâ(TM)ve read say otherwise, and while my series 0 was only âoeokâ in that department, I find my series 3 to be âoevery goodâ, though not yet perfect.

    • by jimbo ( 1370 )

      Indeed, the submission is clearly grasping for straws in order to dismiss Apple Watch, "nobody likes a square watch". It's fine if he has decided against it for whatever reason, but do own up to it!

    • Unless you want a watch that looks at least a little bit like a proper watch. The Samsung watch comes close and looks like soemthing I might wear every day. The Apple watch? Looks really cheap unless you spring for the seriously expensive one with a metal case, and that one only looks slightly less crap.

      I own an Apple watch and in terms of functionality it isn't bad. It just looks terrible.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm on my second Apple watch (upgraded for the new generation) and I love it. I've always been a watch user so there was that. The criticism that it's useless without an iPhone is disingenuous because obviously it is intended to be a cog in the Apple ecosystem so no one who doesn't have an iPhone would want one in the first place.

    Nothing that it does is world changing, it's just that it makes a number of things a little better, most specifically, it makes my phone "less intrusive". I can see who's callin

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 10, 2017 @08:25AM (#55710047)

    The Apple Watch isn't "nearly useless" without an iPhone, It IS useless without an iPhone.

    It simply will not run if not paired with an iPhone. Even then, even if you could magically make it run without a paired iPhone, there are a whole mess of settings you can ONLY set using the paired iPhone. Things that you cannot do at all through the watch. For example, you can't update the software without the paired phone, you can't change notification settings without the paired phone, you can't install apps without the paired phone, you can't set the watch's time without the paired phone, and those are just some of the things that can't be done on the watch itself.

    Beyond that, as has already been pointed out multiple times, "fitness trackers" are worthless. They give people a false sense of how "active" they are, which causes them to be less active than without the tracker. Buy one for the "smart" features like notifications, forget the fitness tracking features. They're worthless.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Without" is ambiguous. I can see a lot of people misinterpreting it. You are right that an Apple Watch doesn't function at all unless you have an iPhone you can use to set it up. You are also right that there are lots of things you can only do through the iPhone, such as install apps. However "won't work without an iPhone" might be interpreted by some people as being useless unless you have your iPhone with you, and this isn't true.

      There's lots of things you can do with an Apple Watch when you leave yo

    • The Apple Watch isn't "nearly useless" without an iPhone, It IS useless without an iPhone.

      It simply will not run if not paired with an iPhone. Even then, even if you could magically make it run without a paired iPhone, there are a whole mess of settings you can ONLY set using the paired iPhone. Things that you cannot do at all through the watch. For example, you can't update the software without the paired phone, you can't change notification settings without the paired phone, you can't install apps without the paired phone, you can't set the watch's time without the paired phone, and those are just some of the things that can't be done on the watch itself.

      Beyond that, as has already been pointed out multiple times, "fitness trackers" are worthless. They give people a false sense of how "active" they are, which causes them to be less active than without the tracker. Buy one for the "smart" features like notifications, forget the fitness tracking features. They're worthless.

      You left out the part where it sucks the life force out of you and sends it to wirelessly to Tim Cook so he can use it in the vile necromancy experiments he conducts in the hidden dungeons underneath Apples HQ.

    • Fitbit is exactly the same. No paired watch, no nothing. All of the stuff that you need a phone for with the Apple Watch? Same with Fitbit.

      I can see this though. Even back in the day of 4 button Casios watches had a crummy UI because of space constraints

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stephanruby ( 542433 )

      Beyond that, as has already been pointed out multiple times, "fitness trackers" are worthless. They give people a false sense of how "active" they are, which causes them to be less active than without the tracker.

      No, you're completely misrepresenting the results of the study. The comparison studied wasn't "fitness tracker" vs. "no fitness tracker".

      It's just that the approach that required people to take their own measurements, enter them into a website themselves, and then receive intervention phone calls from the staff members, was much more successful than using the fitness tracker alone. But even though that's the case, both approaches were successful in losing weight. It's just that the second approach had parti

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        Things work better when you are being nagged by a human?

        Who could have ever guessed that?

    • And I wouldn't get an iphone 8 plus to go along with my apple watch... it's an heavy and cumbersome device.
  • They have too many but the ViVo series is pretty good. I bought my wife one for $250 and have used it a bunch of times to help her cheat on a contest at work.

    They also have stuff in the $600 range with more professional features

  • That, or the Garmin ViVo and its related models mentioned elsewhere.

  • by ChunderDownunder ( 709234 ) on Sunday December 10, 2017 @08:56AM (#55710155)
    Obligatory plug for AsteroidOS [asteroidos.org], the open source firmware for smartwatches.
  • Pebble... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 10, 2017 @08:59AM (#55710165)
    I've yet to find anything to replace my Pebble... a) Week long battery life b) Always on display c) Button operation (because touch is just too difficult to reliably operate in winter with gloves)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Apple Watch is the one to beat if you want a product that will be supported year after year. My support of Apple isn't just because of it's ecosystem but also because of it's support of it's products past year #1. Old iPhones get OS updates immediately, old Apple Watches get OS updates immediately. Google didn't even bother to mention Android Wear at it's latest conference...Apple mentions the watch at every yearly conference.

    This means that the Apple Watch will/does keep getting better. Small examp

    • But you also have to own an iOS device, right? So if you're like the vast majority of people, you'd have to get a new phone and ecosystem to use that Watch. And from the bitching seen here at /. and other places, OS updates to older phones tends to turn them into worthless, slow bricks, so...
      • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

        But you also have to own an iOS device, right?

        As if most people buying Android Wear aren't already Android phone owners.

        So if you're like the vast majority of people, you'd have to get a new phone and ecosystem to use that Watch.

        The vast majority of people buy what they want, that does what they want, at the price they are willing to pay. Without harboring irrational feelings about another company who's products they don't have an interest in purchasing.

  • by carlhaagen ( 1021273 ) on Sunday December 10, 2017 @09:22AM (#55710239)
    Really? This was nothing else than a dumb, shallow and biased summary.
  • Too soon? Nothing moderated at all? Keyword searches also came up dry.

    Anyway, my main experiences are with an Epson Pulsense and a Samsung Galaxy. Going back some years already. Also an Omron sleep tracker, but that leads into the blood pressure topics... Lesser experience with a FitBit and activity tracking apps (both for walking and bicycling) on various smartphones, currently a FreeTel and an ASUS. Various good features and limitations that could be discussed, but already running out of motivation to spe

  • You ask the question, "Are There Any Good Smartwatches Or Fitness Trackers?" when you already know the answer. Your real question, which you then go on to ask, is "Are there any smartwatches that fit my specific use case, personal desires, and arbitrary taste?"

    You think Android is cool and want an android watch. You think FitBit makes the best fitness trackers, but that opinion doesn't seem to be based on anything particular. But your ultimate judgement is based on which ones you think are cool vs nerdy

    • by sphealey ( 2855 )

      There's also this:

      = = = Manufacturers have learnt from Moto 360 that people want round smartwatches that actually look like traditional watches, with a couple of glaring exceptions = = =

      Personally I agree the round Moto looks great. Unfortunately based on actual sales figures virtually no one is buying it, which is a bit of a problem for long-term sustainability...

    • by Brannon ( 221550 )
      "I like A, I don't understand why other people like B" - Every slashdot post for the past 20 years
  • by Subm ( 79417 )

    Since the only people I see with fitness trackers are obese and the fit people I see don't have fitness trackers, I conclude that other strategies work better.

    Is there research that shows they help?

    I searched before posting. This Journal of the American Medical Association published study [jamanetwork.com] found "the addition of a wearable technology device to a standard behavioral intervention resulted in less weight loss over 24 months. Devices that monitor and provide feedback on physical activity may not offer an advanta

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      Clearly you don't get out enough.

      Also, many fitness trackers (especially the early ones) are quite small. So unless you are stalking people and creeping them out, there's a good chance you would never see them.

  • Morpheus is the World's First Digital Recovery Coach. Over training can be worse than under training so finding optimal range a challenge. HRM seems to help. Sleep, nutrition, stretching etc.. also among the variables to manage. A cheap Polar, Garmin, or bit fancier Apple Watch all provide HRM monitoring. The BT chest straps work close to the ANT and better for accuracy then the wrist but the wrist convenience a big plus and directional pretty good. Highly recommend HRMs even cheap , Morpheus a new advan
  • No device would be perfect. We have gone thru 4-5 different devices at our home, and Samsung Galaxy Gear S2 was the best one for me so far. (The older version, without LTE support).

    If you want fitness tracking and some connection to your phone it gives great value. It lets me know when I have sit too much (part of the daily job), and nudges me to take a walk, or do stretches. It will alert me if my hearth rate goes up all of a sudden (first time I put on the device was after a heavy physical activity, and t

  • by nickovs ( 115935 ) on Sunday December 10, 2017 @11:06AM (#55710599)

    Smart or not, my main criteria for a good watch have always been around wanting something slim and relatively light and not needing to take it off for long periods (since for decades I've been in the habit of wearing my watch in bed). For a while I've been using the Pebble Time Round. Although not terribly 'smart' it is quite functional and has the distinct advantages of charging in 15 minutes (usually while I'm in the shower) and not being a huge lump on my wrist. Sadly it has a mediocre display by modern standards and also is no longer manufactured or supported and of late the battery has been failing to hold charge.

    IMHO if someone wants to make a killer product in this space then it needs to be less than 8mm thick, weight in the region 30g including strap, charge fully in less than 20 minutes (or not need to be taken off to charge) and have a round screen and case. Until then when my Pebble dies I'll probably go back to a 'dumb' watch.

    • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 )

      The Activite or Nokia Steel are interesting to me... you woulnd't know it from the appearance, but they're a bit thick.

      https://health.nokia.com/us/en/steel-hr [nokia.com]

      Fully waterproof, 8 months on a disposable Lithium battery.

      I really only want a sleep tracker and maybe a wristwatch, so taking it off to charge makes it useless. The HR model has some additional functions, but you have to charge it every couple weeks and the usefulness and any accuracy of wrist-based heart rate monitoring is... dubious.

      Does

  • I got a used Fitbit Flex for $45 (Canadian) over 3 years ago. The battery used to last about 7-8 days; now it lasts about 6-7 days. In that time I've had to do a reset on it once, and it has otherwise worked flawlessly.

    It syncs in the background with my computer via tiny USB dongle, or I could connect it with my phone over bluetooth if I cared to install their app. I get updates about meeting my step goals and sleep using IFTTT.

    I've had to replace the band a few times. I bought a cheap 10-pack off Amazon, a

  • Apple Watches are a product developed by the NSA to be used in the event where incel nerds have to be tracked. There's a giant electronic map in a bunker somewhere with little blinking lights on it, clustered around openings of the new Star Wars movie.

  • Though relatively light on Smart Watch functions (other than notifications), it's a great device for Fitness Tracking.
    There is a newer version that has a round screen, but I can't say I'm impressed enough to want to switch.
    My battery life is great (don't have to charge it every day), great GPS (though not so good downtown...but that's a limitation that all watches have), HR, calorie, steps and sleep tracking.
    If you primarily want a fitness tracker, this would be a good place to start.
    • The VA3 is still going through the usual growing pains that all Garmins do but I'm very pleased with it. I still use a FR735 for races and intervals but treadmill runs and any other activities like strength training, yoga, hiking, etc. I use the VA3
  • ... in mind and body.

    I want a watch that will monitor and record near real time heart rate to my iPhone.

    That's all. Oh, and it has to be accurate.

    Forget the other bells and whistles.

    I'm 72 years old and I'm doing mostly cardio.

    Suggestions?

    I'm running at +2, so I won't see the snark remark.

    Thanks.

    • by nickovs ( 115935 )

      You might want to take a look at the Nokia Steel HR. It has a clean design with minimal bells and whistles, a weeks-long battery life and is designed to give you the basic fitness monitoring and the time and not much else. https://health.nokia.com/us/en/steel-hr

  • ... to see if you're doing fine with your workout regime you have a problem.

    Every human has very sophisticated built-in fitness tracker, finely tuned to him/her and adjusted for the current state of all things bodyly. It's called hormone system & brain.

    It goes something like this:

    - If your heart is pounding, slow down.
    - If you're having trouble catching your breath, slow down.
    - If you want to put your heart, circulation and respiratory system through the wringer, sprint uphill as fast as you can for 10

  • by urbanriot ( 924981 ) on Sunday December 10, 2017 @01:47PM (#55711271)

    I have a Samsung Gear Fit 2 and I was incredibly disappointed with its inability to connect to anything that wasn't a Samsung phone. I figured we live in a connected age of technology where I could synchronize the data my watch collected with my PC... but nope. Asus tablet? Nope. Apple tablet? Nope. The internet? Nope. To get it to do anything useful I need a Samsung phone and this wasn't advertised on the box or the site before I purchased it.

    So I have months of data on my smart watch that's entirely useless so I had to start punching it into Excel spreadsheets at the end of every day. Insanity. I regret the purchase.

    As far as using it to manually track my exercise as though it were 2007, it goes for about a day and a half before it needs to be charged which doesn't seem very good in my opinion.

  • This was just released and I wonder what people think of it. It doesn't have dedicated GPS but for me that's not a big deal. I also don't want phone features. It's $200 and initial reviews have been pretty good.

    I like the fact it'll run Android Wear 2.0. Their sports app has a nicely reviewed weightlifting feature. (In a nutshell, it'll count your reps, auto time your rest periods, etc.. and it can learn lifts it doesn't know.)

    Has anyone had hands-on experience with this watch yet?

  • Topographic maps are a nice addition & 12 days of battery is very good. Rated for 10 ATM.
  • I got the new Fitbit Ionic about two months ago - it's my first fitness tracker/smartwatch thing. Quick summary from my brief & first time experience:

    Positives:

    - battery life is great. I get probably 4-5 days, doing a tracked run every 2 days or so. The rest of the time it's doing pretty regular heartrate tracking.
    - heartrate tracker is great! never thought I'd care about it but it's really interesting looking at the data collected all day. Seems pretty accurate (comparing it at a high level to my dedic

  • Yes, there are good ones and they are dirt cheap. Get the original Mi Band, and it has no display but does sleep and paces just fine. On Ebay for $10 last time I looked, battery lasts for a month or more between charges. Get the later 2 gen one and it will do pulse, time display, pace display. Its a bit bigger, but either one you hardly know you have on. I prefer the original. The problem with pulse, in the 2 gen one, if you leave it on and have it do continuous sampling when asleep, is the light can
  • Pebble replacement (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rune2 ( 547599 ) on Sunday December 10, 2017 @02:34PM (#55711473) Homepage
    What I really want is a Pebble replacement. The current smartwatches offer too little for too much money. I don't want a huge bulky thing strapped to my wrist. I want something slim and lightweight with decent battery life and an always-on screen that can do the smartwatch/fitness essentials (notifications, music control etc). I don't care if does anything else. It doesn't have to have LTE or satellite tracking etc.

    Considering how modest the hardware in the Pebble Time was it sure did a lot and was very simple to use. The Pebble was compatible with both iOS and Android so it was somewhat freeing from vendor lock-in. Sure it started out as a general purpose smartwatch and was late in the adding fitness tracking features that people wanted (the never-released Time 2 would have solving that).....features which would also have made it more expensive (it was very reasonable price-wise). It didn't have a touchscreen or OLED screen and the colors on the e-paper display were fairly basic but I'm not viewing photos or video on my watch so I don't really care about that. A battery-sucking OLED screen means a bigger, heftier battery which makes the watch huge and I hate that. I want a watch not a mini-phone strapped to my waist. The raise-to-wake feature often doesn't work on smartwatches that turn their screen off leaving you looking like an idiot shaking your wrist trying to get the damned thing to wake up so you can just see the time! That's not convenient! The always-on screen on the Pebble never had that problem. The charge on my Pebble Time lasts a whole week.

    Say what you will about the Pebble but it did what it did extremely well. It didn't have to be all things to all people. Oh and personally I want a square/rectangular watch. I understand that some people think that a circular display is more fashionable but it really sucks for usability. A square/rectangular screen is much more practical.
  • by Pascal Sartoretti ( 454385 ) on Sunday December 10, 2017 @05:14PM (#55712199)
    The Apple Watch (...) is big, square, and nerdy-looking.

    The Apple Watch is the only smartwatch that I have seen on a woman's wrist. It may be anecdotal, of course, but if you compare commercials from Samsung and Apple, it is very clear who targets geeks and who targets the whole population (including women).

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