Planning to buy a smart watch, fitness tracker? Maybe you should read this first

Updated: Jan 29, 2018, 12:49 IST | Anindita Paul

Do wearable devices help today's time-strapped, multi-tasking urban dweller? Readers share their experiences across lifestyle and work needs

Smartwatch

Phones that double as two-way radios, bracelet-watches that track your every move, shoes that are almost sentient in terms of their ability to guide you to your destination — no, this isn't a Dick Tracy strip or an episode from The Jetsons but real devices that can help you to get fitter, get more productive, sleep better, help you juggle between work and play, and keep you safe. Welcome to the world of wearable technology, where devices monitor you and communicate with other devices, in a bid to improve your quality of life.

The term 'wearable tech' is somewhat nebulous — depending on how you look at it. However, the definition has been recently updated to include devices that use smart sensors and a web connection, usually with the help of Bluetooth, to connect wirelessly to your smartphone. As per data released by the International Data Corporation, wearable technology has been welcomed with open arms by Indian users — 2.5 million units were shipped in 2016 alone, with most purchased devices coming from the under-$50 segment.

Yet, these devices come with their drawbacks, where detractors point to high costs, poor manufacturing standards, weak battery life, privacy concerns, and the hype that makes it easy to lose perspective about whether the device is meant for you or not. Eight city readers play reviewers and share more about the devices that they swear by.

Divya Punjabi

Safety trackers
Divya Punjabi, 52, Culture Custodian at a playschool chain
Safety is a growing concern for children, especially in light of recent events. Being able to track your child is especially important, and devices like the Hug Smartwatch let you do that. You can tell if your child is at home, at school or at the creche. Being aware of where your children are at all times is especially important in today's times. However, parents must understand that monitoring has its limits —it is equally important to educate children to protect themselves.

Mihir Manker

Productivity enhancers
Mihir Manker, 37, founder of brand consulting company
Pebble Time appealed to me because I was seeking to reduce the number of instances I looked at my phone's screen. I liked that it lets me know who is calling and who has messaged.

Pebble Time

Since I am less distracted by my phone, it has made me more productive. It also has great battery life. Since I was not too keen on fitness tracking or health monitoring, the change in focus after Pebble was acquired by FitBit has reduced its appeal. I also liked its affordability. Features such as notifications from specific numbers or callers could be enabled, which would enhance it's usability.

Priyanka Desai

Smartwatches
Priyanka Desai, 29, consultant
I am addicted to the Apple Watch Series 3. I no longer miss calls or messages. I've used it to book cabs and flights, for surfing the web and answering emails, for recording my steps in a day, for reminding myself to drink enough water and for deep-breathing exercises. It's akin to wearing a virtual assistant. My lone observation is that if it sported a stylish and functional design, more women would be hooked to it.

Navid Dave

Navid Dave, 24, IT professional
I like that my Fossil Smartwatch looks like an ordinary watch and complements my office wardrobe. It allows me to check who is calling or messaging me without reaching for my phone. The watch also has the ability to sense when I am exercising. The downside, though is that I cannot answer calls on the watch and must eventually pull out my phone. The watch also has poor battery life — it has to be charged every day. Since it uses Bluetooth to connect with your phone, it also drains your phone's battery. I use the phone when I remember to charge it.

Fitness trackers

Fitness trackers
Bedarshi Saha, 29,
marketing professional
I bought my Goqii on an offer from my bank, which brought down the price of the device considerably and also gave me the added incentive of credit card points if I completed 70,000 steps in a week. I like the app's personalised coaching sessions, which can be availed, through the phone app and online. It serves as motivation to get fit.

Bedarshi Saha

I have been using my Goqii for nearly 10 months now. However, the coaching is free for only six months and is a paid feature after that. I did not renew the coaching since I find that it doesn't give you the kind of personal attention that an actual trainer would give you. All in all, Goqii works better as a way to get more from your exercise routine — whether in terms of punctuality, intensity or insights.

Salonee Sanghvi Doshi

Salonee Sanghvi Doshi, 29,
food blogger
I was apprehensive about spending too much money on a device that I would have to wear continuously, which made the Mi Band (priced under `1,000) perfect for me. I was surprised by how comfortable it is. It does a pretty good job of tracking my steps and I like the sleep monitoring feature, although I'm not too sure about its accuracy it is. I have been using my Mi band for almost a year now.

Siddesh Jain

Siddesh Jain, 26,
entrepreneur
I bought my FitBit Charge 2 last February. I like its Nudge feature, which reminds you to take 250 steps every hour. It also has a "Calm" feature that reminds you to deeply inhale and exhale, which, in turn, reduces stress. I use the device to track my exercises. I feed my goals into the device, check how much progress I am making, and also measure my calorie intake and expenditure. It has helped me gain weight, which was my aim. I bought the FitBit on sale; the price can otherwise be a little inhibitive.

Sushma Iyer

Sushma Iyer, 33,
counselling psychologist
The TomTom helps me track my steps and monitor my heart rate while I am on the move. It also assesses my body composition, in terms of fat and muscle percentage, which is quite a useful feature. I am very happy with the device and also the company's customer care. The strap of my device broke twice and the company replaced it within a day. They informed me that the issue was with the material of the strap, which could not tolerate the humid weather conditions in India. I liked that fact that the company was upfront and honest about their product.

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