Fitness trackers

Don’t replace your GPS watch just yet. It turns out there aren’t many new fitness trackers performing basic step counting better than a tried and tested pedometer, the $30 SW-200 Digiwalker.

Recent research put to the test how well new smartphone apps and fitness tracking devices record your steps and few performed better than the Digiwalker.

The new study had 14 people do two walking tests wearing a bunch of fitness trackers, carrying smartphones with four run tracking apps and wearing the Digiwalker pedometer. Each person walked on a treadmill twice, once for 500 steps and a second time for 1,500 steps.

Of the nine options beyond the Digiwalker, only two performed better, the Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip. Though their accuracy averaged very similar to the Digiwalker, the two Fitbit options showed a smaller variance from from one test to the next. The Fitbit Fly did not perform as well as the other two options from the company.

One of the fitness trackers averaged a step count over 20 per cent lower than the real count, sometimes only recording slightly more than half the number of steps.

The smartphone apps, though fairly accurate – still not as accurate as the Digiwalker – performed fairly well. All three iPhone apps tended to record slightly more steps than were actually counted. The single Android app, tested on a Samsung Galaxy S4, averaged slightly below the true number of steps.

If all you’re looking for is step counting, most of the fitness trackers performed reasonably well, but few better than the simple pedometer, though there are certainly advantages to them beyond step counting alone, which is all the Digiwalker will do for you. Many of these trackers come with software for longer-term tracking and are designed with the intentions of keeping you motivated in mind, something to keep in mind when comparing price points.

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