Top Fitness Trackers Under $50 to Get You Moving
New year, new you. Ready to amp up your fitness routine in 2017, or support someone else's efforts to be more active? A fitness tracker can do more than simply show steps taken or calories burned. It can spur more intense and more frequent exercise. In online reviews, users say simply wearing one of these devices motivates them to get moving -- take the stairs, walk the dog, or hit the gym. High-end activity trackers and smartwatches cost hundreds of dollars, but Cheapism.com has homed in on several top fitness trackers under $50. Each one shows progress toward daily goals and wirelessly syncs with a mobile app to provide a more in-depth and long-term view.
Related: 12 Great Ways to Give the Gift of Fitness for $40 or Less
The Fitbit Zip (starting at $50) is the entry-level model from the popular fitness-tracking brand. Available in several colors, the device clips on to clothing or sits in a pocket. A small screen displays basic stats. The Zip syncs with iOS, Android, and Windows mobile devices via the Fitbit app. Users can also wirelessly sync data to a computer with an included USB dongle and log in to Fitbit's online dashboard. The software is the biggest draw, according to reviews. It's the same interface used across Fitbit's entire line of devices, which cost up to $250. Users can log meals, specify workout activities, and get a more complete look at their stats. The site also offers the opportunity to join activity groups and issue challenges to friends and family. Fitbit sends weekly email progress reports and awards badges for various fitness milestones.
The Misfit Flash ($17 on Amazon) is a small disc in a choice of seven colors. It can be worn on a wristband like a watch or in a clip-on holder, or simply placed in a pocket. Reviewers appreciate that the Flash is water resistant up to 30 meters up to 30 meters and includes sleep tracking, which is automatically activated. A circle of LED lights display progress throughout the day; for detailed stats, the tracker must be synced to an iOS or Android mobile device. The Misfit Link app can turn this simple fitness-tracking device into a remote control for a phone's camera and music, as well as a slide show tool. Those who order from the manufacturer's website before Dec. 11 can take advantage of a special holiday price of $12.
The Misfit Shine ($35 on Amazon) differs from its cheaper cousin only slightly -- but it may be the little things that count. Rather than a plastic disc, the Shine offers the added durability of anodized aluminum in a tracker that can be worn on the wrist, as a clip-on, and even as a necklace. It's also fully swim-proof up to 50 meters, although it lacks the Flash's remote-control functionality. In addition to the standard step, calorie, sleep, and progress tracking, the Shine sports a nifty time display and phone notifications. Consumers who want a more subdued, more expensive look and feel may be willing to pay a bit more for a tracker that, until the recent unveiling of the Shine 2, remained outside a $50 budget. A Misfit sale sweetens the deal: Until Dec. 11, the Shine can be scooped up for the special holiday price of $30.
As a top name in the market, Jawbone surprised many when it recently announced that it was selling off all inventory to an undisclosed third party for resale. The silver lining: A range of Jawbone products, from the ultra-low-budget Up Move to the sleekly styled Up24 and Up2 bracelets, have suddenly become affordable for even the most frugal fitness fanatic. In addition to standard activity and sleep tracking, as well as personalized recommendations for improvement, the more expensive bands include idle alerts that let wearers know when they've been sedentary too long. For just a hair over $50, the Up3 adds heart-rate monitoring to the mix. While there may be some worry that proprietary software, like the much-lauded Smart Coach app, might not always be available, the company emphatically claims it has no intention of abandoning the fitness-tracking business.
Garmin has long been the tracker brand of choice among hardcore workout buffs, and its entry-level Vivofit (starting at $40) lives up to the high expectations of reviewers. The "basic" waterproof band sports amazing battery life, and an LCD screen displays time, steps, distance, and estimated calories burned. It even lights up red to spur the wearer to get moving after an idle period and tracks the quality of nighttime rest. Wireless syncing via computer or app allows for detailed progress reports and social goal-sharing. More serious users can pair the device with a chest strap for heart rate monitoring for about $20.
The LifeTrak Zone C410 (starting at $43) is worn on the wrist and doubles as a watch. The major selling point for this device: a heart rate monitor, rarely seen at such a low price (Garmin's Vivosmart HR starts at $120, for instance). Factoring in heart rate can greatly improve the accuracy of calorie counts compared with devices that depend on age, sex, and weight to make an estimate. The Zone C410 syncs with iOS and Android apps, and the screen is large enough that users say they can easily see the time and date, their heart rate, and progress toward daily goals with only a glance.
Although it's hard to find a fitness tracker equipped with heart rate monitor under $50, Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi includes this perk on the Mi Band 2. It also packs basic step tracking (including distance traveled and calories burned), sleep tracking, an OLED display screen, silent alarms, an idle alert, and smart notifications into a $45 package. Some reviewers are less than thrilled with the accompanying Mi Fit app. Consumers might also consider the cheaper Mi Band Pulse (also called the Mi Band 1S Pulse). It doesn't have a display screen, the pedometer is said to be much less accurate, and the heart rate monitor is quirkier, but at just $21, even critics have to admit it's a steal.