Joy is wearing three of these tracking bracelets on her arm right now, but could wear five. It’s part of a new marketing approach from Lumoid.com. The company will send you five items from a list of the hottest smart watches and fitness trackers. Buy what you want or reject them all. The catch is you only have seven days to try them out, and it costs $20 unless you buy something. Whatever you don’t like — all of them, if that’s the way you feel about it — you send back; they provide a prepaid shipping label.
It’s an interesting way to shop, so we tried a bunch. We learned a lot in seven days. Joy is smitten with the Garmin VivoFit, an $89 device with a nanny aspect: When you’ve been sitting for more than an hour, a red line streaks across the face. If you keep sitting, after another 15 minutes a second red line, and so on. Clear the tiny screen by walking around for a few minutes. This keeps your fat-burning enzymes going.
By the way, moving about every hour is a hot new trend. Apple employees sporting Apple smart watches, which aren’t on sale yet, jump up during meetings when their watches buzz them.
Unlike most of the trackers we tried out, the VivoFit does not require a smartphone as a companion piece. You can use a smartphone if you have one, but otherwise you can look at your computer for a complete wrap-up of your steps, calories, goals, etc. Or just look at your wrist. The battery lasts for a year or more before it needs changing.
Besides the VivoFit, we also liked the Fitbit Charge HR, $150, an elegant-looking band, but it doesn’t track swimming. The HR stands for heart-rate tracking. Joy climbed 15 flights of stairs carrying 22 pounds of groceries and it said her heart rate was 89. We thought for a minute she had turned into Superwoman, but her heart rate registered higher later from brisk walking, so its readings are really questionable; some users say it never goes beyond 120 no matter what you do. We liked the caller ID feature, though. When your phone rings, the caller’s name shows up on your wrist.
We also liked the $100 Striiv Fusion. Besides tracking swimming and other exercises, it connects with your smartphone to vibrate when email or calls are coming in. It also lets you pause music playing on your phone, but this didn’t work for us.
The other gizmos we tried, like the Jawbone Up Move and Up 24 didn’t wow us. Bottom line: We’re sending all five gizmos back, even our favorite, the VivoFit. On Amazon, we learned that the new VivoFit 2 is coming March 31, so why not wait. The new one has the advantage that its backlit face can be read in total darkness. The present version can’t be read in low light.