Consumer Reports: Smartwatches vs fitness trackers

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Consumer Reports is here with some easy shopping tips to help you make the right choice.

Whether you're racking up steps at the mall or giving your fingers a workout by shopping online, the holiday shopping season is here.

Maybe you're thinking about giving one of those smartwatches or activity trackers as a gift but aren't sure which one is best for your fitness fanatic. Consumer Reports is here with some easy shopping tips to help you make the right choice.

Wearable tech gadgets like fitness trackers and smartwatches are getting cheaper while allowing consumers to do even more right on their wrist.

You might be thinking about giving, or getting, one as a gift this holiday season. When it's time to shop, Consumer Reports says think about what you're going to use it for.

"If you just want something that's going count steps, maybe track your heart rate, a fitness tracker probably covers what you need," said Consumer Reports Tech Editor Bree Fowler. "If you're going do more reading emails, if you want the latest sports scores, the weather, you might want to look at a smartwatch."

Some trackers may have text and call notifications as well. Consumer Reports says you should also think about how tech savvy the person who will be using it is. Lots of bells and whistles won't mean much if you don't know how to use them.

"The good thing about devices that don't do as much, is they're often times a lot easier to use," Fowler said. "Fitness trackers are a good example of this. They're easy to pair, they can count steps, they can track your heart rate, they'll even track your sleep patterns. And you really don't have to do a whole lot."

When it comes to charging, fitness trackers will last for days while some smartwatches need to be charged each night. But during the day, smartwatches with cellular service let you leave your phone in your pocket, or even at home.

"Now that comes at a price," Fowler said. "Not only does the watch cost more, you're gonna have to pay your carrier more for that privilege."

For a smartwatch, Consumer Reports recommends the Apple Watch Series 4. And for a fitness tracker, Consumer Reports likes the Fitbit Charge 3.

Consumer Reports says Kohl's and Target have the Fitbit Charge 3 on sale for $120. And although CR hasn't seen the Apple Watch Series 4 in sale ads, the Series 3 is $80 off at Target. And it did well in Consumer Reports' tests.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumerreports.org
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