By Lisa Eadicicco
February 17, 2017

Looking to keep up with your fitness goals by tracking your action? It’s hard to rationalize spending a fortune on a device that’s going to get as sweaty as you are. But you don’t have to drop $200 or more on a gadget or sports watch to measure your steps and cycles. The following wearable devices skip extras like altimeters and built-in coaching to give you the basics for less.

The Bargain Choice

Courtesy of Xiaomi

Xiaomi Mi Band 2

$39, available via Amazon

This fitness band is among the least expensive models on the market, says Angela McIntyre, who follows wearable tech for the Gartner research firm. It includes a 0.42-inch screen that displays your heart rate, the number of steps you’ve taken, and the time. The splash-resistant tracker, which can be worn with brightly colored bands ($7 and up at, also monitors sleep and buzzes to let you know if you’ve been sitting for too long.

Precision Cardio

Courtesy of Polar

Polar H7 Heart Rate Sensor


Wristband heart rate monitors are convenient, but in a recent study at the Cleveland Clinic, this chest-strap sensor was far more accurate during exercise than four different wrist trackers, including the Apple Watch. The Bluetooth-enabled H7 sends your heart rate to your smartphone and whatever compatible treadmill or elliptical machine that’s making you sweat.

Remote Control

Courtesy of Misfit

Misfit Shine 2


This sleek fitness wearable displays a circle of LED lights that illuminate throughout the day to indicate your progress toward fitness goals. Like competing gadgets, the Shine 2 is swim-proof and can tally steps, distance, and calories burned. What sets it apart is Misfit’s Link app, which lets you use the gadget as a remote control. Program it to snap a photo from your phone remotely, maybe, or ring your phone if you’ve misplaced it.

Discreet Device

Courtesy of Fitbit

Fitbit Zip


Fitbit’s tiny clip-on tracker is a no-frills option for recording health metrics like steps taken, calories burned, and distance walked. It snaps onto your clothing—hitch it to a belt, pocket, or bra strap, for example—making it attractive if you don’t want to wear a wristband, says McIntyre. You don’t have to pull out your smartphone to check your numbers; just tap the Zip’s LCD screen to cycle through all your different stats.

Lisa Eadicicco covers tech news, reviews, and how-tos for Time. To see more of her work, go to

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