Fitness Watch Recommendations?

I currently have a Polar MH400, which I like well enough, but it doesn’t have a built in wrist HR monitor. It tracks steps / calories burned / HR with a chest strap. I’d like to get a watch that does have a continual HR monitor for sleep evaluation and I have a weird fascination of tracking my HR. Even though I still need to lose 25-35 pounds with the running and other cardio I do my HR is pretty low (45-55 while sitting during the day).

I’m thinking about the Fitbit Charge 4. That has the HR monitor, plus a relative blood oxygen saturation sensor to help evaluate sleep (I have sleep aprea). I’m not happy with Fitbit as a company because they put sleeping heart rate information behind a premium service paywall, which seems pretty crappy since one of the purposes of a Fibit is to track HR. They still give you a sleep score and you can see the relative oxygen saturation graph, just not the HR data while sleeping.

Anyone have any suggestions as to what might fit the bill for my needs?

If I was in the market to replace my Apple Watch the only one I would consider is the Garmin Decent. Of course it might be a bit expensive, but some of the other Garmin watches are just sexy as well.

I hate my Fitbit Versa Lite and wish I had returned it in the window around Christmas. I hate the company practice you highlight and the hardware on the Versa Lite leaves much to be desired.

Ouch, that is expensive but is a nice looking watch. Way to steep for me unfortunately. I guess I should mention I’d like to keep it < $200.

That one reviews fairly well on Amazon, what don’t you like about it? I don’t care about things like smart phone notifications and stuff like that so I never really considered the Versa as it seemed more like a smart watch with some fitness features rather than a fitness watch with some smart watch features, but I guess that line is pretty blurry.

Yeah I have the Garmin Fenix 5x, which was about $300 on black friday sale, so well above your threshold.

I got that one because I do lots of hiking, trails, and mixed activities and it has a topographical GPS map that does not rely on cell service, which is important for me in the mountains. I do love it, but it is probably overkill for you.

But the heart monitor is there, and should be for lower tier Garmins as well. If you can wait until Black Friday there are usually very good deals available, I got mine through Best Buy.

Not responsive to touch (very slow), never turns on when you turn your hand to look at it right so you have to push the button (why do I bother with a watch then?), HR seems to take like 30 full seconds to update so trying to do quick HR raises is practically dangerous because you end up overshooting like crazy. The app sucks too.

Sarah Lane did an in-depth review of the Fitbit Versa 2 on Daily Tech News Show - Live With It back in December. She really seemed to like it and still uses it today.

The “Live With It” series is one they do after using the product for 3-6 months. So this isn’t a short term review situation, she’s used it for a very long time.

Have the wrist heart rate monitors improved enough to be as accurate as a chest strap?

Last I read they were close enough for casual use but if you’re very interested in your numbers I would double check that what you pick will have the kind of accuracy that you are wanting.

I believe the wrist ones are fine for sitting and low intensity stuff. When I go running I’d still use my chest strap. I’d probably test them side by side to see what activity level the wrist one is good for.

I mean the Garmin uses an array of 3 pulsed green lasers that seem pretty good. It tracks in pretty good detail and updates constantly. And the accuracy seemed good enough for me.

I also have a very low resting heart rate, about 42-44 most days. When I had an illness in January it picked up my heart rate spiking an hour or two before I felt anything otherwise

I was the same way when I got sick in December and then in January again. My resting pulse jumped into the 70s. When I was the peak of my illness I was sometimes over 90 while sitting and doing nothing. It freaked me out a bit My blood pressure also saw a jump, but not a dramatic. I’m usually a little high with that on normal days. In the morning I’m usually between 115/65 - 125/75, but in the afternoon and just before bed I can get up to 130/75 - 140/85. Eating too much sugar (and I also think salt affects me) = elevated blood pressure.

Look up for all sorts of very, very… very in-depth fitness watch reviews.

The Garmin Forerunner tends to have the sort of thing you’re looking for, and is about 150$ on sale right now.

That does look pretty good. Many people are complaining that Garmin’s sleep evaluation is subpar compared to other brands - so something for me to consider.

Yea, I have a Fenix. I also don’t really like wearing the Fenix to bed either; it’s just too bulky.

Meanwhile I only take mine off to charge about once a week. I got used to it.

Due to price I decided to try the Fitbit Charge 4. It took a day to realize I made a mistake and I’m going to return it to Best Buy. I’m now looking at a Garmin Forerunner 245 (I want the pulse ox feature) and the Polar Ignite. Leaning towards the Garmin, but it is expensive ($300). I got $100 as a gift a while ago to put towards it. My birthday isn’t until August but I’ll try and convince the wife to let me get it early as a gift and I’ll put my $100 towards it. The thing is, the numbers help motivate me to keep exercising, so it helps make me healthy.

Here is the review I submitted to Amazon for the Fitbit Charge 4:

Setup was a breeze. The Charge 4 connected to my phone (Moto X4) and went through setup without a hitch. I had been using a Polar M400, but I wanted something with continuous HR monitoring and some sleep tracking. After a bit of reading I decided to give the Charge 4 a try. I usually buy from Amazon, but the ship date was out a ways so I bought from a local store.

The Good

  1. I tested the HR monitor vs my Polar chest strap with the M400. While I was seated or at a steady rate of exertion, the Charge 4 was typically within 2 beats of the chest strap. If I would get up from being seated, or run and stop, then start again - it may take the Charge 4 20-40 seconds to settle back into my actual HR. I know wrist based HR monitors sometimes have a lag in this situation, but I don’t know if this is a typical amount or not.

  2. The touch screen seems fairly responsive and I could scroll through the days stats, or get the weather pretty easily. Also, indoors the display was clear and readable, even with some of the small fonts used. See ‘the bad’ for outdoors.

  3. The sleep monitor seemed reasonable, if a little generous with my sleep time. I felt away more than the Charge stated. The first night it didn’t produce the oxygen variation chart, but the second it did.

  4. The GPS seemed pretty close to my M400, which has always seemed accurate.

The Bad

  1. The display is horrible in sunlight, even if I tried to shade it with my hand and body. I couldn’t tell if the GPS was still locking in because I couldn’t see the screen. Forget about trying to look at my HR or pace when running. It is really poor.

  2. I got a mild rash on my wrist from the strap. I’m not sure if it is because with all of the hand washing I’m doing, and maybe water or soap got under the band. I’m trying to be more careful now to make sure. Didn’t happen with my Polar watch though.

  3. Fitbit doesn’t let you see your sleeping HR in the app. They hide it behind their premium paywall. That seems pretty bad as I bought the Fitbit to monitor my HR. If they want to put advice behind the paywall, that’s fine. But it’s pretty bad to not let the user just see the raw data.

  4. There is no option to keep the screen on all the time. Yes I know it would wear the battery out faster, but if I don’t mind charging it it seems like I should be able to keep it on. Lifting my wrist usually works well enough to turn it on, but there is a slight delay. It also likes to turn off when I’m still looking at it. Occasionally I need to move my wrist a second time to get the display to turn on.

I’m strongly considering returning it and getting a Garmin or Polar watch due to these negative. They pretty seriously hamper my usage and Fitbit hiding my sleeping HR to try to force me to pay $10 a month for basic data is shady business practice to me. I’m going to give it one more day before I decide to return it just to make sure I’m not being hasty, but I’m pretty sure it’s going back. It’s a shame because other than these cons it works pretty well.

Just FYI but Garmin’s use (basically) a color e-ink screen. This means they’re actually best in direct sunlight and completely unreadable in low light. Of course they do have a backlight button you can click on, but it’s nothing like the ultra-saturated glow of an OLED screen.

At least most of the Garmin branded watches did. I can’t say for sure if every single model does now as I haven’t followed them closely for a couple of years and they have a lot of new models.

Just to prove my own point, there is this thing called the Garmin Instinct. Apparently meant for manly men because there’s lot’s of Milspec and images of burly blacksmith’s arms and whatnot.

But it also looks like it has all the core functionality of the Fenix series. And it’s just 230$ right now.

Yeah I have no issues in my watch under any light conditions. The backlight works well enough indoors, and outside as well. Even on night runs a quick tap of the backlight is enough to see the numbers.