Device squad Health-trackers
A new slew of Wi-Fi–equipped wellness gadgets takes working out and watching your weight to a new level.
Confession: After a week of testing, I’m absolutely smitten with this little guy. I’ve used pedometers before, and although the Fitbit is small like a pedometer, it’s way more powerful. The device, which securely clips onto your waistband, bra or wherever, uses accelerometer technology (the same kind used for playing Wii) to calculate how active you are each day, then beams that info back to your charging station. (The battery lasts five to seven days between charges.) All of your data—how many steps you’ve taken, how many calories you’ve burned, how long you’ve been sitting still—is neatly organized in pie charts and bar graphs on your online dashboard at fitbit.com. You can also record your food intake using the site’s database. I found myself completely addicted (in a good way) to the intel. In fact, I checked my online stats a few times a day—and then got up and walked some laps around the office when my “minutes spent sedentary” readouts motivated me into action. Fitbit also calculates your “sleep efficiency” based on how long it takes you to doze off and how many times you wake up during the night. With newborn twins at home, it’s been fascinating to see how a rough night of shut-eye affects the next day. $100 at fitbit.com. —Liz Plosser
Once you’ve synced the sleek, black Withings WiFi Body Scale to your computer (a process that took me about four minutes) and created online profiles for up to eight users in your household, your weight, body fat composition and BMI are wirelessly transferred to an online database every time you step aboard. Your weight history is tracked online, and you can set weight-loss goals and view the data in chart form. (FYI, Withings partnered with Fitbit so your weight data will automatically feed onto your Fitbit dashboard.) You can also consult your info via the WiScale iPhone app and share your deets on Facebook via an instant -feed option (yikes!). But I found that viewing my weight and body composition info in private was just the kick in the pants I needed, thankyouverymuch. $159 at withings.com. —Liz Plosser
The odds were stacked against the MyTrak the minute I opened the box and found it isn’t compatible with Mac computers. It was downhill from there: After a good hour of fiddling with the device to set up a profile on my computer (my age, weight and weight-loss goal), I eventually relented and called the help hotline only to find out I was having pop-up blocking issues. Fortunately, I was good to go after the activation processed. About three-quarters the size of a deck of cards, the device clips onto your waistband (or heart-rate monitor should you want to take advantage of the heart-health aspect) and using red, yellow and green lights, indicates how close you are to your target daily calorie burn and exertion level. When you plug the device into your computer, it offers more detailed information with charts and graphs. By the time I hopped on an elliptical machine, I had energy to burn, but the more I thought about MyTrak, the more skeptical I became. Sure, the colorful flashing lights reminded me to pick it up if I was slacking, but without offering any kind of numerical information (calories burned, distance logged, for example) I wanted more. In addition, without a connected heart-rate monitor, I wondered just how accurate it could be. For a goal-oriented device, it was a little too vague. —Jessica Herman
Once you charge the myTrek wireless pulse monitor (for at least two hours), setting up the device is pretty simple. Download the free myTrek app on your iPod Touch or iPhone, and the devices automatically sync up. The small, screenless gadget straps comfortably to your forearm, and the stats from your workout are displayed on your iPhone. The display is clean and easy to read, even in the middle of an exercise session. I could easily peek at the graph of my pulse rate throughout my lakefront run, as well as the number of calories I burned and my mileage. I’m not used to running with my phone on me, so it took a good mile to get adjusted to the extra bulk. Although I typically rely on the mile markers along the lake to measure my distance, it was nice to see the extra information displayed on the app. Bonus: You can access your iPod music through the myTrek app. $129 at scosche.com/mytrek. —Kevin Aeh