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Latest activity trackers can help you get in shape, but that's not all they do

Latest activity trackers can help you get in shape, but that’s not all they do

The latest activity trackers, such as those on display at CES 2014, can do more than just count your steps or calories. These new devices offer leading-edge features that target specific sports and specific demographics.

For example, the JayBird Reign (available in May) analyzes movements distinct to cycling, running, and swimming. That ability could allow it to provide more accurate information on distance covered, calories burned, and other fitness data. It also provides you with a daily “Go-Score,” which the manufacturer says measures fatigue and heart rate, letting you know how ready you are for a day’s activities.

Some trackers go beyond the device and related apps to provide advice for specific groups of people. Fitbug, which produces the Orb activity monitor, launched the first in its coming series of Kik Plans, which are targeted to a variety of demographics. First up: a post-natal plan ($19.99, spring), offering a 12-week plan tailored to new moms. They’ll get nutritional info, recipes, access to social networks, and of course a get-back-in-shape training plan. On tap for the future are plans for seniors, diabetics, and even gardeners and skiers. The plans work in conjunction with the company’s Orb trackers.

For all the show news, trends, and analysis, visit our insider’s guide to CES 2014.

Wahoo will launch three different heart-rate monitors, worn as chest straps, in the coming months. All are geared toward not only tracking heart rate, but also providing training plans. The Tickr ($50, out on Feb. 15) is the simplest, showing heart rate and calories burned in real time via a fitness app that connects via Bluetooth or ANT. It also works with many of the top running and cycling apps. The Tickr Run ($70, Feb. 15) adds an accelerometer, so you can measure speed and distance, strides per run, and vertical oscillation.

Those extra measurements will help fine-tune your running form, according to the company. The Tickr X ($99, May 1) adds flash memory so you can store your information in the device for later uploading. That means you can use the waterproof device when your phone is not nearby for such activities as tennis and swimming. The Tickr monitors also provide eight-week training plans for “burst training,” or high-intensity, short-duration interval workouts that are designed to help with weight loss.

The Mio heart-rate bands ($99, March), which you wear on your wrist, let you program zones. For example, you can program a cardio zone of 140 to 170 beats per minute. Green lights let you know you’re in your zone, blue tell you you’re below, and red above.

Of course, it wouldn’t be CES without a device that, well, makes you wonder. This year, it’s Mother, from Sen.se. The tracker looks like an electronic Russian worry doll. It works with “Motion Cookies” (appropriate, right?), which you attach to different things depending on what you’re tracking. Want to know how much water you drink in a day? Attach a cookie to your water bottle and it measures how long it’s tilted and thereby how much water you consumed. Put one on your bed to measure your sleep. Take one with you to measure your steps. The device comes with one Mother and four cookies for $222.

—Donna Tapellini

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2007-2013 Consumers Union of U.S.

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