Bands on the run

AC­CU­RATE GPS, HEART-RATE MON­I­TORS, COLOUR TOUCH­SCREENS. AC­TIV­ITY TRACK­ERS HAVE RE­ALLY STEPPED UP IN 2017...

Australian T3 - - STATE OF THE ART - Words: Damian Hall Pho­tog­ra­phy: Neil God­win

BACK IN THE MISTS OF SPORTS-TECH TIME, THERE WAS A SIM­PLE DIVI­SION. TWO TRIBES. THEY DID THE SAME THING BUT IN A DIF­FER­ENT WAY. AND WHAT THEY WORE ON THEIR WRISTS WAS THE GIVE­AWAY SIGN.

There were the Chris McCor­mack- and Pete wanna bes who wore GPS sports watches. And there were those who merely wanted to go down a waist size, who wore ac­tiv­ity track­ers. The for­mer needed ex­haus­tive data for dis­tance, heart rate (HR), pace and so on. The lat­ter cared more for calo­ries burned and steps counted. The uber-so­phis­ti­cated GPS sports watches boasted (chest-strap) heart-rate mon­i­tors and GPS track­ing. The track­ers were lit­tle more than pe­dome­ters, re­ally. But now all that’s changed…

Ac­tiv­ity-tracker de­sign, hard­ware and soft­ware have pro­gressed quickly and im­pres­sively; pre­mium-end track­ers are now so so­phis­ti­cated, they of­fer many of the things sports watches do – GPS, pace and var­i­ous data-car­peted sports modes. But on top of th­ese fea­tures, you get per­for­mance en­hancers that most of those watches don’t of­fer, such as wrist-based heart-rate mon­i­tor­ing, smart no­ti­fi­ca­tions and colour touch­screens.

We’re at the point where you have to ask your­self if you need to pay an ex­tra $300 for a sportswatch, when ac­tiv­ity track­ers can do so much.

We’ve taken the best three pre­mium track­ers and given them a work­out. Th­ese’ll suit any­one in the mid­dle of the fitness spec­trum – ie those who aren’t run­ning to and from work every day, but who are in­ter­ested in their health. And who like a bit of pre­mium tech…

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