5 Cheap Wearable Tech Gadgets You Should Try Out in 2017
Weareables made a big splash in 2016 with all sorts of crazy, stylish and sometimes boring gadgets making their way into the market. While interest in some wearables, such as smartwatches, has cooled somewhat, we still expect to see a lot of interest in them in 2017 and beyond.
One reason why wearables have become so popular is their low cost. A vast majority of wearable devices cost less than $300 with most in the $200 and under range. There are even some devices that are in the double digits range. So whatever your budget is, there is a wearable waiting for you. Here are some of the most inexpensive ones in the market. We only considered well known, but cheap wearable tech costing $100 / £100 or less.
1. Misfit Shine 2
Misfit is the king of branded low-cost fitness trackers. They produce them in unique shapes and designs, creating a cult following among its fans. The Misfit Shine 2 fitness band is a long overdue update to the original Misfit Shine which had been around for several years.
At $99.99, it comes with most of the features you’ll need to keep track of your fitness and sleep along with a decent app.
For daily activity tracking, it monitors your steps, distance and calories. Despite not having in-built GPS, it is amazingly good at accurately tracking your activities through the day. This accuracy makes it really good at tracking your workouts, whether it is a morning run, swimming, soccer or tennis.
At night, the tracker will automatically know when you are dozing off. Not only will it track how long you slept, it will also monitor your light and deep sleep sessions and represent them on graphs in the app. Overall, the sleep tracking feature is less accurate compared to other trackers like Jawbone and Fitbit.
Aside from activity tracking, Misfit Shine 2 does a decent job at connecting you to your world. It comes with vibrations that alert you to calls, texts and notifications. The vibrations are also used for movement reminders and morning alarms. It even comes with a smart button that you can use to control connected home devices such as bulbs and bathroom scale.
Overall, the Misfit Shine 2 is a pretty nifty piece of technology that sells at an amazingly low price. You are getting a lot of features, packaged in one small gadget and sold at just $100.
2. Xiaomi Mi Band 2
Most fitness trackers with heart rate monitors are in the $150 and above range. So finding one that costs just $40 is really surprising. The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 packs quite a lot in its slim body. It starts with a crisp clear OLED display to ensure that you can see the watch face even in bright sunlight. The screen is small but good enough for most people.
The screen displays three things: time, steps and heart rate. Daily steps are calculated through an improved pedometer algorithm that works to eliminate unnecessary movements and improve accuracy. When you are inactive for too long, the band vibrates to remind you to move. You can also use it to track your daily runs. It will calculate calories, distance and active time.
The heart rate monitor is the headlining feature of the band. It uses an optical heart rate sensor but do not expect it to be accurate, especially during workouts. Accuracy improves a little bit when you are resting.
The motion sensor fitted inside the tracker is able to detect when you start an activity. The heart rate monitor comes on automatically and begins measuring your heart rate level. If you want it to monitor your heart rate thorough the day, there is a ‘sleep assistance’ setting hidden deep within. In this mode, it measures your heart rate once every 10 minutes though with increased battery usage.
In addition to activity and heart rate tracking, the Mi Band 2 will also monitor your sleep. By measuring the change in your heart beat levels, it can determine the light and deep sleep patterns and tell you how well you slept.
Like most fitness trackers, it connects to your smartphone and can deliver any incoming calls, messages or notifications.
3. Withings Go
Withing Go is another popular sub $100 fitness tracker designed to counter the popularity of other low cost brands like Misfit and Jawbone. The Go tracker comes with a simple E-ink screen and only one type of watch face. At the start of each day, the screen shows an incomplete circle and a running person icon. The circle keeps filling out as you take more steps towards your daily goal. When you reach you set goal, the icon changes to a star.
Style-wise, you have several options. You can wear it on your wrist using the band that comes with it or you can attach it to your clothes using a clip that holds it in place. You can even clip it on your keys, belt or just stick it into your pocket.
When it comes to the actual activity tracking, the Withing Go tracker is not too bad. It can track your daily steps and will even calculate how many calories you have burned for the day. It can also keep track of your daily runs and swim sessions (it is waterproof).
But for comprehensive data, you need to head over to the accompanying app. The watch only shows you the current step count. On the app, you can see how many calories you have burned, active time and distance covered.
At night, it keeps track of how long and how well you slept. On the app, you can access an easy-to-read sleep cycle analysis for insights into how you are doing in the snooze area and where you can improve.
4. Garmin Vivofit jr
Garmin is not exactly known for its low cost wearables. Most of their trackers, packed with GPS, heart rate monitor and a gazillion other features, often cost well over $200. But they still have a few basic activity trackers with friendlier price tags. The Vivofit jr is one of them.
Starting at $80, it is designed specifically for young ones between the ages of 4 and 9. If you want your kid to get fitter, enjoy more outdoor adventures and help out more in chores, this is the best gadget.
The watch comes in three kid-friendly designs: Broken Lava, Digi Camo and Real Flower. The one-piece band is stretchy, comfortable and does not stain easily. The design is sturdy enough to handle the rough and tumble of children. They can take it to the pool, to soccer practice and anywhere else they want. The replaceable battery lasts up to a year.
Parents control the tracker through the Vivofit jr app. The app allows you to add more than one child, monitor their daily activities including steps and sleep, assign chores and give them challenges to complete. If your kid can never remember to brush their teeth or clean their room, you’ve got the perfect helper in this tracker.
5. Moov HR
Moov follows the steps of Misfit in creating small and spunky wearables that stand out easily. The Moov HR is a heart rate-focused wearable to help you optimize your workouts for the best results. The heart rate tracker is designed to be worn under a sweatband when you go for your workout.
By tracking your heart rate, Moov HR guides you on how to optimize your exercise based on your heart rate intensity zone. For example, the HIIT (high intensity interval training) zone is great if you want to burn a lot of fat. This guidance is provided in form of a voice coach.
Later on, you can open the app and see how you have been doing. It shows you the workout duration, amount of calories burned and the average heart rate along with the different heart rate zones. You can also connect with compatible watches and apps via Bluetooth to see your heart rate data live as you exercise. Moov HR is waterproof and provides up to six hours of battery life. Note that it measures heart rate only. If you are looking for a more comprehensive activity tracker, we would recommend Moov now which also costs below $100.
Finding the Best Low Cost Wearables
Getting a bargain is always exciting. But you have to be careful that you are spending your money on something that is actually worth something. There are some fitness watches and bands even cheaper than any of the ones we have mentioned above, some as cheap as $10 or $20. But they are most likely cheap pieces of plastics that will frustrate you to no end.
So even as you look for cheap wearable technology, be cautious on what you pay for. Here are some important tips to keep in mind.
1. Determine the features you want
You can only get so many features in a $50 fitness band. Determine those that are a must-have for you. You may only be in need of activity tracking (steps, calories and distance) or you might want activity tracking and workout monitoring. You may also want a sleep tracker.
Most cheap wearables will have 2 or 3 of these features. Basic activity tracking is essential (unless it is a dedicated heart rate monitor like Moov HR) and workout monitoring is also important. Sleep tracking is also something that more and more people are after.
Once you know what features matter most to you, it will be easy to find a cheap fitness watch with those features. Consider buying a tracker that provides additional features such as reminders (for when you get too idle), silent alarms, water resistance and smart notifications.
Simply because a fitness tracker is cheap does not mean that it has to sacrifice accuracy. It may not be as accurate as a $300 Garmin Smartwatch but it should come close. Otherwise, what’s the point of buying it if it will give you inaccurate figures?
Make sure that its step-counting and calorie calculations are accurate enough to be relied on. A look at expert and customer reviews can help you determine how accurate a specific tracker is.
Avoid watches with flimsy plastics and weak clasps that break off at the slightest activity. We don’t expect a $60 tracker to have a sapphire screen and leather bands, but it should be sturdy enough to actually be used in workouts.
Before you buy a watch or band, check manufacturer specifications for information on materials used. You can also go through customer reviews to see what they say about the tracker’s sturdiness and durability. Does the screen get scratched easily scratched? Does the clasp come off often?
4. Be realistic
Be realistic about your expectations. Do not expect to find good quality trackers with GPS or heart rate monitors in this price range. Additionally, if you are looking for something to help you in serious training, this is not where to find it. Low cost fitness watches are mostly meant for basic daily activity tracking.
This is also not the place for those who love the outdoors. Lacking in GPS, these trackers will not be as helpful in outdoor activities such as cycling, rowing, open water swimming and trekking.
Sub $100 trackers are not for the serious athlete or outdoor adventurer; they are designed for the ordinary user who enjoys a jog every morning and wants to walk 10,000 steps every day.
Wearables have generally gotten cheaper over time as the market has grown larger and competition has gone up. Do not be surprised to find some feature-packed wearables costing less than $100. With some good research, you just might come across some trackers with heart rate monitors, GPS or other advanced features.
Cheap Wearable Tech Gadgets – Conclusion
There are more wearable options right now than at any other time. From fancy wrist fitness watches to clip-on activity trackers, the choices are dizzying. This is good news for those who love to have options. There is always something for you whether you want to spend $30 or $300, whether you want an executive-looking fitness watch or a simple boring activity tracker and whether you want a full-featured training watch or a basic fitness band to record your daily swim sessions.
Would you buy a cheap wearable? If so, which of the above appeals to you most?