The best workout partner

A veritable wave of wristbands have hit the market in the past few years. It’s hard to know which is best.

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From the June 2014 issue of the magazine.

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The long, hard winter is finally over, which means it’s time to get outside and burn off those hibernation calories. A veritable wave of wristbands have hit the market in the past few years to help with such endeavours, yet with so many now available it’s hard to know which best fits your needs. Here’s a handy guide.

imagesBest value: Misfit Shine

$119 | Misfitwearables.com

The Misfit Shine only does a few things, but it does them well. It tracks steps, calories burned and sleep patterns, plus the phone app lets you keep a photo journal of your eating habits. The waterproof device itself is a handsome quarter-sized aluminum disc that can be worn comfortably like a watch with the included rubber wristband, as a pendant or even looped through shoelaces. Tapping its face lights up LEDs that display the time and goal progress. Best of all: it’s the only band we tested with a removable battery, which supplies up to four months of power. No cables or recharging needed.

307885-jawbone-up-fitness-bandMost stylish: Jawbone up

$159 | Jawbone.com

With its open-ended snake-like design, the unique-looking Jawbone Up can double as a fashion accessory. It’s also highly functional, with perhaps the best app—for both iOS and Android—among those in our test. Steps and calories burned are counted automatically, but the sleep tracker must be turned on and off manually. That said, the app’s charts are big and detailed, telling you exactly when you’ve had your best exercise or sleep.

fitbitflexBest Price: Fitbit flex

$99 | Fitbit.com

The Fitbit Flex is the least expensive fitness tracker we tested, but its functionality is on par with the best. Steps and calorie counting are automatic and the app allows you to create a food plan and track how much water you drink. On the downside, sleep tracking requires manual activation and the band that houses the actual “bit” can be uncomfortable if worn for long stretches.

samsung-gear-fit-1Best for techies: Gear fit

$219 | Samsung.com

Samsung’s Gear Fit is one of the most fully featured bands available. Aside from tracking steps and sleep, it has a heart-rate monitor and connects to several Samsung smartphones. From there, it can display notifications from the phone, such as email or phone calls, and control music on its bright curved screen. It’s also the most expensive band we tested. Its colourful screen is either lovely or garish, depending on your tastes. Most of its tracking abilities must be manually started and stopped.

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