The best personal fitness gadgets right now

A spate of new fitness devices use modern mobile technology to better motivate you. These are our current favorites.

Right now the Fitbit Force is the best all-around personal fitness gadget. Sarah Tew/CNET

Fall is here in force and the chill of winter is in the air. With the season comes plenty of tempting holiday treats and the urge to hibernate indoors. Before you know it, though, swimsuit and tank top weather will cruelly arrive. Luckily, there are new mobile accessories that harness wireless technology, competitive behavior, social media, and other online tools to help couch potatoes catch the exercise bug.

Even if your goal isn't to become the next Ironman Triathlon winner, getting into a regular exercise routine can be a challenge. In today's digitally amped-up, always-on, yet increasingly sedentary age, simply dropping what you're doing and taking a 15-minute walk is difficult. A slew of new products from sports heavyweights such as Nike, experienced mobile manufacturers like Jawbone, and spunky startups like Fitbit and Basis are designed to slyly use this ultraconnected world to spur you into action.

The game becomes the goal
I guess it's no surprise that the gamification craze, collecting badges and touting achievements to taunt Facebook friends and Twitter followers, should hit the personal fitness market, too. Kids naturally know that exercise and gameplay are two sides of the same coin and that friendly competition can make any sport more fun. Perhaps it's time we adults embraced our inner child. We at CNET reviewed the following cutting-edge gadgets and love how they strive to make having fun a way to get fit.


Nike+ FuelBand SE
The undisputed king of motivational slogans, Nike has updated its first compelling fitness device, the original FuelBand, which won points for style and doubled as a watch with a wild LED display. The new Nike FuelBand SE adds sleep tracking and new color options. And like its predecessor, the gadget slips around the wrist and displays your exercise stats on its slick-looking screen. It also pushes users to earn NikeFuel points by being active and encourages ribbing of FuelBand-owning friends over Facebook and Twitter. The FuelBand connects wirelessly to iOS devices via Bluetooth, but if you're devoted to Android you're out of luck. Read more about the Nike+ FuelBand SE.


Fitbit Force
Fitbit's latest fitness tracker, the Force, is our all-around favorite for its flexibility and comprehensive list of features. It straps to your wrist to measure the steps you take, the calories you've burned, and even the quality of your sleep. The Force is also light and easy to wear around the clock, plus it syncs data wirelessly via Bluetooth with PCs, Macs, iPhones, and compatible Android phones. And with its OLED screen, the Force acts as a watch in a pinch. Read the full review of the Fitbit Force.


Jawbone Up
Boasting a distinctive and water-resistant design, and capable of syncing with Android handsets as well as iOS devices, the Jawbone Up wrist-style fitness tracker is quite compelling. The device may not be quite as comfortable to wear as the Fitbit Force but comes in a close second, plus it's durable and easy to slip on and off. While the Up lacks the Force's wireless syncing capabilities, its battery goes longer between charges. It's also capable of recording steps taken, calories burned, and how well you slumber. Read the full review of the Jawbone Up.


Fitbit Zip
If you'd like to get in on the personal fitness-tracking trend but want to keep costs low, Fitbit's Zip may be more your speed. At $59.95, it features many of the same features found in the company's pricier gadgets but for less cash. Like the Fitbit One and the Flex, the Zip records the steps you take and the calories you power through. It also syncs with PCs, Macs, and phones via a wireless Bluetooth connection and is water-resistant. Read the full review of the Fitbit Zip.


Fitbug Orb
Another affordable fitness-tracking option is the Orb from UK company Fitbug. Costing just $50, the Orb can tackle the same important pedometer duties as its competitors, such as measuring steps taken, calories burned, and quality of sleep. Small and very portable, you can also wear the orb on a clip or around your wrist. The device syncs wirelessly with iPhones and select Android handsets as well to communicate your stats to the cloud via its mobile app. Read more about the Fitbug Orb.

Basis Band
While technically not a true smartwatch, the Basis Band sure has plenty of fitness features. The timepiece boasts a bevy of advanced mobile sensors including an optical eye to measure heart rate, a skin temperature reader, and a motion tracker. All this hardware enables the Basis Band to log your steps and automatically record your sleep patterns. It's also capable of wireless syncing with iOS and Android devices. Read the full review of the Basis Band.

Withings Pulse
Small and wearable on the wrist, the Withings Pulse features a heart rate monitor plus pedometer and sleep-tracking capabilities. It links to a wide range of third-party apps and can sync with Android and iOS devices over a Bluetooth wireless connection as well. Read the full review of the Withings Pulse.

Looking for specs and pricing? Compare these fitness gadgets head-to-head.

 

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