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Bluetooth-Linked Pedometers and Activity Monitors

Wirelessly Tracking Your Walks with Apps

By

Updated July 08, 2014

When you are on the move, it makes sense that you want your walking and exercise data to also be mobile. With advances in pedometer technology and wireless technology, its now possible to wear a tiny device and get powerful data streaming to your mobile phone or other mobile device. Apps then translate that data in useful and fun ways.

1. Nike+ FuelBand

Nike+ FuelBand
Wendy Bumgardner © 2012
The FuelBand has been the most motivational activity monitor I've ever used, and I've used over 100 different devices. The
  • Device Display: Steps, Exercise Calories, Time of Day, NikeFuel, progress towards goal with rainbow LED lights. The FuelBand SE also shows Hours Won -- you win an hour by moving continuously for five minutes or more. The SE will also give you a Move Reminder if you've been inactive during the hour. With the SE, you can also track specific exercise sessions for time, intensity and calories burned.
  • App: Available for iOS 6 and higher. No Android app.
  • Computer Requirement: You need a web browser to set up Nike+ user account and set up the FuelBand via the Nike Connect software. Mac OS v 10.5.8 or later, Windows 7 (SP1) or Windows Vista (SP2) or Windows XP (SP3). If you buy it at a Niketown store, they can set it up there.
  • Bluetooth: The original Fuelband transmited data to the app with Bluetooth by pressing the button on the band. The FuelBand SE uses low power Bluetooth 4.0 to sync continuously with the app. The data syncs to your NikePlus profile.
  • App Display: Goal progress with fun animations when you reach your daily goal or a milestone. Graphs of your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly activity: calories, steps, hours won, NikeFuel. Friend connection via Facebook. Your trophy case.
  • Social: You can opt-in to view and share data with Facebook friends who have a Fuelband. You can also post your goal and milestone achievements to Facebook, Twitter, or Connect Path.
  • Power: Recharge the Fuelband every three to four days by plugging into a computer USB port or using a USB power adapter.
  • Overall Mobility: Very good. You can see your basic data on the wrist display on the go. The app displays almost as much detail as the web site, even without an internet connection. However, you do need to be able to recharge the band with electricity every three days.
  • Cost: The Fuelband SE has a MSRP of $149 with no ongoing subscription cost.
  • Overview: Nike+ FuelBand
  • Review: Nike+ FuelBand SE
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2. Fitbit One - Flex - Force - Zip

Fitbit One
Courtesy of Pricegrabber
Fitbit has a whole family of Bluetooth-enabled fitness trackers. They all tie into the same app that you can use to track your diet and exercise, including logging activities they don't track. It's a great system for those who are interested in weight loss as well as exercise.
  • Device Display: This varies among the different models. The One, Force and Zip all display steps, distance and calories, while the Flex has only LED goal indicator lights.
  • App: An iOS app is available for iPhone 4s and 5, iPod Touch 5, and iPad 3. An Android app is available for select Android devices. Fitbit also can share data with other popular apps such as MyFitnessPal, Endomondo, and MapMyRun.
  • Computer Requirement: You can set it up with either the app or a Mac or PC computer, and transmit wirelessly to either the app or a computer. The computer needs to be able to use the USB dongle to receive data and to be able to download and install the Fitbit Connect software. It also needs an internet connection and web browser. It is compatible with Mac OS v 10.5 or later, Windows 7 (SP1) or Windows Vista (SP2) or Windows XP (SP3).
  • Bluetooth: Uses Bluetooth 4.0/Bluetooth Smart and transmits wirelessly to a desktop computer as well as the phone app. It syncs in the background.
  • App Display: Goal progress for steps, calories burned, floors climbed (One and Force), sleep (One, Flex and Force), weight, food calories, and water. You can log other exercise activities besides what is on your Fitbit tracker. You can use the food diary to log your food calories. You can review the past 14 days.
  • Social: You can add Fitbit friends from the app or the web site, and on the app you see only weekly total steps for each. The app can search for friends in your contacts.
  • Power: The Fitbit One, Flex and Force have a rechargeable battery, so you need to plug it in every few days. The Zip runs on a long-lasting replaceable battery for up to six months.
  • Overall Mobility: Good. Fitbits retain minute-by-minute data for seven days and summary daily data for up to 23-30 days of data without downloading. The app can be used offline.
  • Cost: No ongoing subscription cost unless you elect premium coaching.
  • Review: Fitbit One | Compare Prices
    Review: Fitbit Flex | Compare Prices
    Review: Fitbit Zip | Compare Prices
    Fitbit Force: The Force was recalled in February, 2014 due to skin irritation problems for some users and is no longer available for purchase. Fitbit Force Recall
Compare Prices

3. Misfit Shine

Misfit Shine Clock Time
Wendy Bumgardner ©
The Misfit Shine is a very attractive wearable activity monitor and can be worn on a clasp, sports wristband, leather watchband or necklace. It's waterproof and detects walking, running, cycling and swimming workouts as well as all-day activity.
  • Device Display: Until you tap it, you see only the brushed aluminum surface. Tap it and it shows a clockface of 12 LED lights, indicating progress towards your daily goal and then the time of day.
  • App: An iOS app is available for iPhone 4s and 5, iPod Touch 5, and iPad 3. An Android app is available.
  • Computer Requirement: None. It is app-only.
  • Bluetooth: Uses Bluetooth 4.0/Bluetooth Smart and syncs in the background.
  • App Display: Set a daily activity goal and see your progress, steps, distance and all-day calories. It automatically records workouts including walking, running, swimming, cycling. You can wear it at night and track sleep time and deep sleep.
  • Power: The Shine uses a replaceable coin battery that should last for four months.
  • Overall Mobility: Excellent. The Shine retains up to 30 days of data without syncing.
  • Cost: The Shine has a MSRP of $119.95 with no ongoing subscription cost.
  • Review: Misfit Wearables Shine
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4. Striiv Play

Striiv Play Wireless Smart Pedometer
Wendy Bumgardner © 2012
The Play turns walking into a game and uses your steps to play a virtual MyLand game. It's fun and very motivational, much like the Fuelband.
  • Device Display: Steps, Distance, Exercise Calories, Exercise Minutes, Stairs Climbed, Time of Day.
  • App: iPhone, iTouch or iPad (iOS 5.0 or later). Can share data with MyFitnessPal.
  • Computer Requirement: None! All you need is the app.
  • Bluetooth: Uses Bluetooth 4.0 and transmits whenever the app is open.
  • App Display: Steps, Stairs, Distance, Exercise Calories, Exercise Minutes. Weekly and monthly bar graphs of your totals. Use the app to engage in challenges to such as two more minutes of activity, 200 more steps, etc. Use your energy point rewards to play the MyLand game in the app, building a virtual island paradise. View your daily trophy case of milestones achieved and challenges won (can only view current day's trophies).
  • Social: Add friends via Facebook, email or text message. They only need the free app, the Play pedometer is optional. You earn more energy points by beating their averages and bests.
  • Power: Recharge every two to four days via a USB cord, either to a computer or a power plug.
  • Overall Mobility: Excellent. You don't need a computer at all, just the Play and the app. In fact, you don't even need the Play, the app can use your device's GPS to count steps. But you will need electricity to recharge the batteries in both the Play and your device.
  • Cost: The Play has a MSRP of $59.99 with no ongoing subscription cost. The Striiv app is free.
  • Review: Striiv Play
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5. BodyMedia FIT LINK

BodyMedia FIT LINK Activity Monitor
Courtesy of Pricegrabber
The BodyMedia FIT system gives you very detailed data about your daily activity -- moderate-intensity exercise, vigorous-intensity exercise, and sleep quality. It also has food diary tools and a good display of your daily calorie balance. It works with many Android devices as well as iOS devices. The drawbacks are the cumbersome armband, no display on the armband, and that it uses Bluetooth 2.0, which sucks power unless you close it on exiting the app, requiring you to relink it each time you want to see your data in the app.
  • Device Display: None.
  • Apps: Android 2.3 and higher, iOS 4.3 and higher.
  • Computer Requirement: Windows XP/Vista/7. Mac OS X v10.5, X v10.6, or X v10.7 on the Intel platform. You need a computer to upload the sleep quality data.
  • Bluetooth: Uses Bluetooth 2.0. Open the app and press the button on the armband to transmit data.
  • App Display: Daily total calories burned, daily food calorie intake, calorie balance, moderate-intensity activity minutes, vigorous-intensity activity minutes, steps, sleep (if data synced to computer). The colorful bars allow easy viewing of how you are progressing to your daily goals. If the data has been synced to a computer, you can turn your device sideways and view minute-by-minute details. Use the nutrition diary to log your food eaten. Use the workouts tab to time and record workouts based on time, steps, calories, minutes.
  • Social: No social integration.
  • Power: Recharge every two to four days via a USB cord, and they only recommend plugging it into a computer rather than a power adapter.
  • Overall Mobility: Moderate. You need at least the app in order to see any of your data, as the armband has no display. They sell a display unit that works with their non-Bluetooth armband, but it doesn't work with the LINK. To see your sleep quality data and details of your activity, you need to upload the data to a computer. Data from the app doesn't sync to your online account, while data uploaded to the computer does sync to the app.
  • Cost: The LINK has a MSRP of $149.99 with $6.95 per month subscription (first three months free).
  • Review: BodyMedia FIT LINK
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6. iBitz Unity and Powerkey

iBitz Pedometer
Courtesy of Pricegrabber
These pedometers are completely mobile-based. The Unity app is for adults and families, while the Powerkey app is for kids.
  • Device Display: None.
  • Apps: Uses Bluetooth Low Energy to sync data to iOS apps. Requires iPhone 4s and above, iPad 4 and above, iPod mini and iPod touch (5th generation and above).
  • Computer Requirement: None.
  • Bluetooth: Once linked via Bluetooth, it transmits automatically throughout the day.
  • App Display: The Unity app shows daily total calories burned, vigorously active minutes, steps, distance and average speed for your active minutes. Turn your phone sideways to see detailed graphs. It has a walk timer you can activate to track specific workouts, and a real time mode for seeing your totals as you walk. The Powerkey app for kids
  • Social: You can track multiple users with the Unity app and parents can set goals and rewards for their kids with the PowerKey app. You can form and join groups to compete with each other.and view the group totals. You can post your achievements to Facebook and Twitter.
  • Power: The iBitz runs on a replaceable CR2023 battery that should last for months unless you use the real time mode.
  • Overall Mobility: Completely mobile, you don't need a computer to use the system, just the phone app and sensor. So long as you have a spare battery, you can take it off the grid. You can even go for up to 30 days before you need to sync your data.
  • Cost: iBitz has a MSRP of $49.99. Compare Prices
  • Review: iBitz Unity for adults and family
  • Review: iBitz PowerKey for kids

 

7. Withings Pulse

Withings Pulse Pedometer
Courtesy of Pricegrabber
The Withings Pulse is a completely mobile-centric device, you don't need a computer at all to enjoy its full features with an iOS or Android app. You can wear it as a wristband or wear it as a waistband or pocket pedometer.
  • Device Display: Steps, Distance, Exercise Calories, Elevation Gained, Time of Day. It also has an LED pulse reader and a sleep timer. You can review totals for each of those measurements for each of the past 10 days on the sensor itself.
  • App: Available for iOS 5 and higher. Android 2.3.3 and higher. The mobile device must have internet connectivity.
  • Computer Requirement: None needed. You have to upload data through the app. However, you can see your data on your Withings dashboard online as well as on the app and sensor display.
  • Bluetooth: The Pulse uses Bluetooth to transmit data to the app every six hours, or on demand by pressing the button on the sensor.
  • App Display: Physical activity with your progress towards 10,000 steps per day. Each day includes a detailed graph of activity intensity every 30 minutes, total active minutes, distance and elevation gained. Heart rate: see your last 20 heart rate readings, plus weekly and monthly averages. Sleep quality: progress towards a goal of eight hours per night. Daily details includes a graph of light sleep vs. deep sleep vs. awake times. It also gives total time in bed, number of wakenings, time in light sleep and time in deep sleep. You can log your weights or integrate with the Withings Wifi Scale.
  • Social: You can share your newsfeed postings on Facebook or Twitter and share your dashboard with trusted friends.
  • Power: Recharge the Pulse every two weeks by plugging into a computer USB port or using a USB power adapter.
  • Overall Mobility: Excellent. You have great access to your daily totals for the past 10 days on the sensor itself. The app gives you all of the details. The 14-day battery life is very good.
  • Cost: The Pulse has a MSRP of $99.95 with no ongoing subscription cost. Manufacturer's Site
  • Review: Withings Pulse

 

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