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Heart-monitoring fitness trackers offer a highly accurate health snapshot

For fitness buffs and serious athletes, experts recommend the Basis B1 Band (Est. $200) as the best activity tracker with heart-monitoring capabilities. It's a high-end tracker that combines health monitoring with a smart-watch design. It offers continuous heart monitoring, as well as measuring skin temperature and perspiration levels to track activity. The display is large, giving instant readings on recent activity, heart rate and time. The Basis B1 Band automatically illuminates the LCD backlight with a flick of the wrist, "something other high-tech watches really should imitate," CNET editors say.

Basis includes a free fitness app with the tracker, and reviews say it's one of the best available. "The Basis's gamification of activity is clearly -- but cleverly -- skewed toward breaking the many mundane bad habits so many of us tolerate, which, over time, can have real impacts on our quality of life," explains Micah Abrams with DigitalTrends.com. Rachael Rettner of LiveScience.com appreciates how "the Basis tries to get you to be healthier by having you complete goals it calls 'habits,' which you select when you log in to your account." Another unique feature is that "week after week, Basis automatically adjusts your goals to be slightly harder or easier based on whether or not you reached them," points out Jill Duffy of PCMag.com.

The Withings Pulse (Est. $100) also offers a built-in heart monitor. It's not continuous monitoring like the Basic, but reviewers say the feature is rare enough at this price point to make it a great value, and it's not difficult to do: Users hold their finger over the sensor for a few seconds to record beats per minute.

It has some other attractive features as well. The OLED display gives instant feedback on the time and distance of the current workout and lets users scroll through activity logs from the past 10 days. The device itself is sleek and compact, easily fitting into a pocket. The Pulse includes a silicone clip that comfortably attaches to a bra, and a wristband for tracking sleep patterns. "Having a separate clip that isn't part of the Pulse is a good move, as it gives a little more flexibility in terms of how you wear it and leaves things open to future iterations, including further accessories," says TheNextWeb.com's Paul Sawers. He also compliments the Withings because "it recognizes when you're running and automatically displays a real-time recap of distance and duration."

To upload data, the Pulse connects to compatible iOS or Android devices with an automated Bluetooth connection. Withings offers a free app that can aggregate info from their other wireless monitors, including a blood pressure cuff and bathroom scale.

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Basis Health Tracker for Fitness, Sleep & Stress (2014 Ed.)
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Withings Pulse Wireless Activity Tracker + Sleep and Heart Rate Monitoring, Black
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New: $99.95 $90.49   
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