What Are The Best Personal Analytics Smartwatches?

What Are The Best Personal Analytics Smartwatches?

What Are The Best Personal Analytics Smartwatches? Feature Articles

There's been an amazing amount of rapid developments in smartwatches in the last couple of years or so. In addition to timekeeping and displaying alerts, smartwatches can measure physical activity, monitor pulse rates, skin temperatures and perspiration levels. This new level of intelligence already makes possible functions like pedometers, sleep analysis, calorie consumption and others. Sensors are cheap and trending cheaper, so more functions are on the way. We now have so-called 'personal analytics' which uses these sorts of measurements to let you track and improve health and fitness.

The best known smartwatch is the Pebble, a smash success for Kickstarter and shipping now. I have one, as do two others on staff here, so expect a review soon and follow-up articles as well. However, if you want to track fitness, it's not ready - it has the hardware, but the software has not been completed yet. If they deliver on the promises made during the Kickstarter campaign, I think the Pebble will be the clear winner. A big "if," though.

Each of the current crop has its own set of limitations and drawbacks. A post by Matt Mullenweg has a nice rundown of the alternatives. He likes the Jawbone Up -

What Are The Best Personal Analytics Smartwatches? Feature Articles

and the Basis smartwatch:

What Are The Best Personal Analytics Smartwatches? Feature Articles

Matt says

If I had to pick between the two I’d just use the Basis. The awkwardness of the device is outweighed by the richness of the data it provides. For right now I’m not choosing: I wear one on each wrist and compare the data. (It’s always within a few % of each other for things they both do.) If I were hiking in the woods for a week I’d probably just take the UP as its battery would last the entire time.

Head over and read his review to find out more.

There are lots of others, too - Nike Fuelband, Fitbit, Metawatch, EZ430 Chronos, to name just a few. As the category evolves and expands, we'll be spending more time here covering it. Chime in here in the comments, and let us know what you think. Are they "smart" enough yet for you to wear one?

  • Kris C

    I’m a big fan of the theory of these watches: they tend to put watches on the wrists of those that may not otherwise wear one, and mt perfect world has a watch on the wrist of everyone. That said, I’d never buy one because I’d never have wrist time for it. As an armchair wristwatch aficinado, I have more watches than I need and countless more on the shopping list, so novelty items like these are effectively less watches than they are data centres in the grand scheme, and I rather wear a non-required mechanical chronograph than a non-required digital blinks per hour counter or toenails need trimming alert. I’m a reasonably active guy, but I don’t wear a watch during sports (golf included), and something from my ever-growing G-Shock collection more than suffices when I’m swimming or doing a set of chin-ups.
    The closest I get is my Casio ABC, and it has real value to my needs when I wear it: compass, sunrise/sunset, barometric trends, water resistance.

  • CG

    It’s tough sighting a nice watch these days, every under thirty I know doesn’t wear a watch… they use their smart phone for time, calendar, appts etc etc. To get a watch on those wrists would be a feat… other than an exercise heart monitor with scads of lap and timing features. A watch that Syncs with your phone or pc no matter where you are would be a good start.

  • RaymondLeeJwlrs

    We’ve been eyeing the Jawbone Up for a while…but never thought of it as a watch, really. We’re more interested in the personal analytic function  (Specifically the ability to wake you up at precisely the right moment in your REM cycle so you’re well rested!) But would wear it more as a bracelet in addition to a fine timepiece.

  • vmarks

    I have Pebble, MetaWatch, Nike Fuelband, and Fitbit. I’ve owned Jawbone UP and Fitbit Ultra in the past.
    I also worked on Renew SleepClock (which uses radar to detect sleep cycle rather than something you have to wear like UP.)

    The main thing to remember with any of these Quantified Self devices is where your data goes and how useful it is to you.

    That is, if you use Fitbit, your data is in Fitbit and maybe Loseit.com. If your data is in Runkeeper, that’s it. Similarly for Basis or UP. The most meaningful use of data is when it can be correlated with other data. If your food data that’s automatically scanning barcodes is in Loseit, your weight info is in withings and runkeeper, your activity is in Nike or fitbit, then it’s hard to really get a sense of what you’re actually accomplishing or monitoring.
    Note: Renew, the one I worked on, allows you to export to Runkeeper and CSV files readable by Excel and google docs. The point being, we have all these great devices, but your data has to be yours, not trapped in a silo, and especially not trapped in silos that don’t talk to each other.