As powerful technology makes its way to more devices, it’s never been easier to gain instant access to valuable information, texts, tweets and health data. Wearables today serve as fitness trackers, communications tools and diagnostic devices, complete with heart rate monitoring, GPS tracking and training stats. From brilliant smartwatches to stylish smart sunglasses, here’s a roundup of some of the coolest wearables you can buy today.
The Apple Watch Series 2
Whether you’re an Apple fan or not, there’s no denying that they have a knack for taking product categories into the mainstream with stylish, broad appeal. Before the Apple Watch, we saw a number of similar watches, but in typical Apple fashion, they streamlined it, integrated it with iOS devices, and made it a cool, viable option for all types of consumers. In turn, we’ve seen the entire smartwatch industry up its game, making it an amazing time to buy a great, fully featured smartwatch. The Apple Watch Series 2 starts at $369 and comes with water resistance of up to 50 meters, eliminating any concerns about getting it wet. It’s a great outdoor companion with built-in GPS, a heart rate monitor and a mindfulness app that guides you through deep breathing. This, in addition to deep integration with iPhones and iOS devices via Bluetooth provides easy access to a range of countless apps, capable of receiving notifications, answering phone calls and even checking Twitter from your wrist. With battery life of up to 18 hours, there’s plenty of time to do it all before having to recharge. For a few less features and to save $100, also take a look at the Apple Watch Series 1.
Price: Starting at $369 Where to buy: www.apple.com/apple-watch-series-2/
Samsung Gear S2
Samsung took an entirely different approach than Apple, but defines the product category in its own right. With a gorgeous display, it uses an innovative rotating bezel to access apps and control the device. Where the Apple Watch has a defined square design with rounded edges, Samsung went for a wholly different approach with a rounded design that looks much more like a classic timepiece. The bezel, a bit like Apple’s old touch wheel on iPods years ago, lets you easily scroll through apps and built-in functions. The Samsung Gear S2 according to CNET, “has an eye-catching design, a clever rotating bezel that's actually useful, beautiful display, solid health tracking and slightly better battery life than other high-end smartwatches.” The device also has great versatility, working with a variety of Android devices and even iOS devices. For GPS and built-in cellular capabilities opt for the 3G or 4G featured watch, making the device truly function on its own without a phone nearby. Most users will have difficulty justifying the extra expense for that functionality where basic Bluetooth will prove to be enough, but it’s interesting to see companies thinking along these lines and blurring the lines between what be considered a phone and a smartwatch.
Oakley Radar Pace
Unlike smart glasses that proved to be a bit too early for widespread market adoption like Google Glass, these Oakleys don’t have a screen or provide a visual interface through its single lens. Rather, it provides real time coaching through a voice assistant via headphones connected to the glasses. The glasses can provide a wealth of useful workout and environmental information. It comes with a barometer, can measure humidity, has proximity sensors and a gyroscope. It can be paired via Bluetooth to measure heart rate via an added strap, as well as track cycling power and speed. While the built-in headphones can’t be used without the glasses, the glasses can be used without the headphones, so these Oakleys are also a stylish pair of shades regardless of the incredible technology built in. Wareable gave it resounding review of 4.5/5 stars praising its audio (hearable) technology, explaining that it’s “one of the most impressive hearable devices we've used, in regards to both its artificial intelligence and its abilities as a fitness coach.”
Price: $449 Where to buy: http://www.oakley.com/en/radar-pace/
FitBit Charge 2
In many ways, the FitBit is the definitive fitness tracker. The FitBit Charge 2, considering price, value and features is one of the best of them all. It comes with built-in continuous heart rate monitoring, and automatically tracks activities like distance, steps taken and sleep. Like the Apple Watch it also has a mode that encourages deep breathing exercises, and now it has a large gorgeous display. In a roundup from September, PC Magazine gave it a fantastic review, awarding it their Editor’s Choice. They explained, “Simply put, you won't find this combination of features and performance at this price in any other device on the market. So if you're looking for a reasonably affordable, full-featured fitness tracker, the Charge 2 is an excellent option, and our new Editors' Choice.” It doesn’t have GPS, so if that’s important, consider Garmin devices or the Apple Watch, but for basic, durable fitness tracking with up to 5 days of battery life, the FitBit Charge 2 is the perfect way to go.
Price: Starts at $149.95 Where to buy: www.fitbit.com/charge2