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Back to school: Best wearable tech

Whether it's gear to help track exercise or an advanced smartwatch for budding software developers, these wearable gadgets are sure to fuel students' interest in mobile technology and personal fitness as they head back to school.

Brian Bennett
Brian Bennett is a former senior writer for the home and outdoor section at CNET.
Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR | Gaming | Metaverse technologies | Wearable tech | Tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Brian Bennett
Scott Stein
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1 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

Feature-packed fitness tracking

For $99.95, the Fitbit Flex tracks steps, sleep, and calories you burn. It syncs via wireless Bluetooth connection to iPhones and Samsung Galaxy smartphones as well.

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2 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

A watch that eyes your heart

The $199 Basis Band takes fitness tracking to the next level. This timepiece is bristling with sensors to measure everything from heart rate, steps, skin temperature, and even perspiration. As a result the Basis keeps tabs on activity level, sleep, plus syncs over Bluetooth to a companion iPhone or Android app.

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3 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

Get up and get happy

Flaunting a comfortable and attractive wristband design, the $129.99 Jawbone Up is meant to be worn 24-7 to track the steps you take and how well you sleep. It also presents helpful health-related insights via companion iOS and Android apps. You can even log and communicate your current mood to see how it mirrors your personal activity.

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4 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

Fitness tracking on the cheap

The $59.95 Fitbit Zip smart pedometer is affordable, easy to use, and tracks the steps you take plus calories consumed. Though its clip-style design makes it easier to misplace than wristband gadgets, the Zip offers access to Fitbit's deep data-analysis tools. The device also syncs over Bluetooth to iPhones and Samsung Galaxy handsets.

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5 of 6 Scott Stein/CNET

Smartwatch for the experiment-curious

The Pebble Watch is now available at Best Buy, if you can get your hands on one. It's not a perfect smartwatch, but the iOS/Android-compatible watch receives notifications and can download custom watchfaces, and it's waterproof to boot. Those who want to make their own watchfaces or apps might find the Pebble a watch worth tinkering with, but the full experience isn't fully baked yet. Of all smartwatches currently out there, the Pebble's probably your best bet.

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6 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

Withings Pulse

Tiny and easy to use, the little $99.99 Withings Pulse is a FitBit competitor that sports a sleek look and low profile. It's a pedometer with pulse reader that syncs via Bluetooth to a Withings mobile app, measuring steps taken and distance walked, as well as estimating calories burned and measuring elevation. The bonus: other Withings tools like scales and blood-pressure monitors feed data into the same centralized app. You can slide the little Pulse into an included clip-case or a simple Velcro wristband, which you can wear at night to measure sleep data.

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