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Review: The best fitness trackers and smartwatches

CNET says the Fitbit Charge 2 is among

CNET says the Fitbit Charge 2 is among the best fitness trackers. Credit: CBS Interactive

If your New Year’s resolution is to get off the couch and start getting in shape, your first step is finding a reliable fitness tracker or smartwatch. Here are four that will help you put your best foot forward.

The following CNET staff contributed to this story: associate editor Dan Graziano and senior editors Scott Stein and Laura K. Cucullu. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit cnet.com

FITBIT CHARGE 2

CNET RATING (Out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD Swappable bands; a multiline OLED display that can show time and fitness data; an always-on heart-rate monitor; a great companion app; affordable price; five-day battery life.

THE BAD It’s not water-resistant for swims or showers, there is no GPS, and phone notifications on the Charge 2 display are limited and hard to read.

THE COST $149.99

BOTTOM LINE If you can live without water resistance and GPS, this is the best overall fitness tracker for the money.

GARMIN FORERUNNER 235

CNET RATING (Out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD The accurate GPS is great for tracking runs. It also has a 24/7 wrist-based heart-rate monitor, can track all-day activities like steps and sleep, can display notifications from iPhone and Android devices, and it’s water-resistant.

THE BAD Heart-rate accuracy drops off during interval training, there are occasional connection and syncing problems, and Garmin’s Connect app can be confusing to navigate.

THE COST $329.99

BOTTOM LINE The best value for serious and casual runners looking for an all-in-one running watch and fitness tracker.

APPLE WATCH SERIES 2

CNET RATING (Out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD The new Apple Watch is faster, has a far better operating system than its predecessor, onboard GPS, a brighter display and is waterproof to 50 meters in salt or fresh water.

THE BAD It has the same battery life, mostly, as the previous model. GPS activity causes a big hit on battery life. It lacks an always-on display, is a tad thick and requires an iPhone to work.

THE COST $369 to $405.90

BOTTOM LINE This made-for-sports upgrade is great if you’re a runner or swimmer.

FITBIT FLEX 2

CNET RATING (Out of 5)

3.5 stars (very good)

THE GOOD The Flex 2 is slim and swim-proof, can track basic fitness data and supports a variety of accessories, including pendants.

THE BAD No heart-rate tracking or the display and more advanced features of other Fitbit trackers. The LED lights can be confusing and battery life should be better.

THE COST $99.99

BOTTOM LINE The Fitbit Flex 2 lacks the bells and whistles of other trackers, but it’s finally swimproof.

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