Not sure which fitness tracker to buy? The choice only gets harder. Our friends at Self review a more affordable option, Boost from Bowflex.
There's a new activity tracker in town, and it's got a lot of the same bells and whistles as the current frontrunners . . . but for a significantly lower price tag. Like, a lot less. For just $50, the brand-new Bowflex Boost will calculate your steps, distance traveled, calorie burn, overall activity level and even your sleep patterns, all while syncing wirelessly to your iPhone or iPad. I've been wearing my own Boost for a week or so now, and I'm definitely impressed, especially considering the affordability factor.
Compared with most of its competitors (the $99 Fitbit or the $150 Nike Fuel Band, for example), the Boost, which went on sale earlier this week, is a great deal. Of course, Boost's lower price point means that it's missing some features that the others might have, namely a heart rate monitor and the ability to distinguish between different fitness activities (a la the Amiigo or the Misfit Shine). But for most people, that's okay. What Boost does have is a fairly accurate pedometer and a cool new way to measure daily goals.
The Boost is a black rubber wristband that's designed to be worn all day and all night; it's pretty nondescript, except for a small button that lights up when you press it — red when you start the day, yellow when you're halfway to your daily goals, and green when you've finally achieved them. Your daily goals are set via the free iPhone app (sorry, no Android yet), and they include both a step goal (for example, 10,000 steps) a calorie-burning goal (500) and a distance goal (five miles). These numbers are defaults, but can all be customized, too.
There's also a sleep mode, that measures movement during the time you spend in bed. In the morning, the app can tell you how much you tossed and turned during the night — a cool way to compare how you're feeling during the day with how well you slept (or didn't sleep) the night before.
Because Boost isn't a heart rate monitor or a GPS, its calorie and distance calculations are simply based on an estimation of how many steps you've taken in a day, how much you're moving your arm around, and the height and weight info you type into the app. It had no idea, for example, that last week I helped a friend move apartments, carrying heavy boxes as I walked up and down three flights of stairs for an hour. At the end of the day, my step count was off the charts, but I was still coming up short for my calorie goal — even though I knew I'd burned way more than the app could tell me based on steps alone.
If you're just looking for a fun way to track your daily steps and remind yourself to stay active, however, this is a pretty great one. I find myself checking my progress often and striving to get that green light earlier and earlier in the day, and that's the main idea behind Boost: getting people to move more, and to actually be excited about it.
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