Smart Tech Buying Guide
Fitness trackers can help you lead a healthier life. Monitoring your daily activities, such as sleep, steps taken, and sometimes heart rate, they can help motivate you to become more active.
With a wide range of different brands and models, picking the best one for you can be tricky. Lots of trackers simply offer sleep and step tracking, while the latest models can include advanced features such as heart rate monitoring and smart notifications for a more in depth view of your health and activity.
A fitness tracker tracks your daily activity, such as number of steps taken and calories burned. This allows you to set goals, review information and see if you’re on track to reach them. Some deliver notifications to help keep you motivated throughout the day.
Heart rate tracking offers more accurate calorie tracking. As your heart rate is monitored 24/7, the accompanying app on your phone records your resting heart rate and patterns, helping you make a more informed plan of how to get and stay healthy.
Sizes varies for each brand, but you’ll find the size is clearly labelled online and instore. All fitness trackers include a size guide on the box or on their respective website.
In addition to displaying how many calories you’re burning, most fitness trackers allow you to log your food intake and monitor calories consumed by pairing up with popular health apps such as Health mate and MyFitnessPal.
Some let you input your water intake and scan barcodes using your smartphone so you can log your meals, giving you a more accurate representation of what you’re consuming each day.
All fitness trackers have an accompanying app that logs the length and type of activity that you’ve undertaken. When you reach your milestones some apps will give you a score and award you weekly and lifetime achievements.
Some fitness trackers automatically recognise when you’re working out, and which activities you’re doing, making it even easier to track your exercise.
A band with a built-in display will let you see the time and your fitness goals at a glance, so you don’t have to get out your phone. Showing information such as a clock, your heart rate and instant activity information, some will deliver notifications from your smartphone or let you control your music playlist – ideal for keeping motivated at the gym or when out running.
The type of information displayed varies – some will simply show activity information, while others offer a smartwatch-style screen with full health monitoring and phone notifications.
If you don’t feel a fitness tracker with a screen is the right choice for you, there are options such as LED lights that show your progress, or simple band-style trackers that can be synced with an app.
As the app provides you with all the detailed information captured by your tracker, it’s an important consideration when choosing the right band. You can check if your tracker supports your preferred health app, and that the tracker itself is compatible with your smartphone (although most work with both Android and iOS devices).
Some trackers are rechargeable and will need to be recharged every few days, while some are powered by watch batteries which can last months before needing to be swapped.
Sports trackers offer extra functionality over fitness trackers, making them ideal for those who regularly participate in sports or fitness.
Sports trackers feature heart rate monitoring and GPS tracking as standard, allowing you to accurately track calories burnt, distance travelled, routes taken, and altitude changes. This provides a much more detailed view of your progress and overall health than a standard fitness tracker offers.
Sports trackers monitor running and cycling, while more advanced trackers can monitor swimming, mountain biking, skiing, snowboard, roller skating and rowing. Even if the tracker doesn’t specifically cover your chosen sport or activity, chances are there’s an app available to make it work for you.
As standard, heart rate monitors and GPS are included on sports trackers. They also offer additional functionality over fitness trackers, giving you more detailed information on your health and fitness progress.
All of the fitness and health trackers we sell are compatible with current Android and iOS phones, while an increasing amount are compatible with Windows Phone. You’ll find information on smartphone compatibility on our product pages.
Almost all trackers feature a dedicated app for easily tracking your progress. Many are also compatible with popular running apps on iOS and Android, allowing you to sync your band with the app and start tracking your fitness.
Some apps are also available for download to your iPod, ideal if you prefer to not to take your phone out running or cycling.
Sports trackers and fitness bands we sell are either splashproof or fully waterproof.
Splashproof bands can be used safely in the rain or shower, but shouldn’t be completely submerged in water.
Waterproof bands can be used in the rain, shower and be completely submerged in water to a certain depth, making them suitable for swimming, rowing or cross-country running.
Battery life varies between products, while some will need recharging every few days, others may use a replacement watch battery which lasts for months. Full battery information can be found on individual product pages.
Smartwatches give you the information you need, when you need it. They deliver notifications from your phone, calendar, apps, and more, straight to your wrist, so there’s no need to reach for your phone throughout the day.
Keeping you in touch with what matters, there’s a smartwatch to suit your needs, from simple alerts to full phone functionality.
Smartwatches are an extension of your phone, so you can stay updated at all times, while sports and fitness trackers are primarily designed to monitor health and fitness. Some offer both functionality, so you should choose one that best reflects your needs.
Smartwatches pair directly with your smartphone. Android Wear watches work with Android OS 4.3 onwards, while the Apple Watch only works with the iPhone.
They are usually tailored more towards one operating system than the other, but some will work with both Android and iOS.
Smartwatches have a touchscreen that works the same way as your smartphone, so they’re easy to use and get the hang of.
Smartwatches with buttons offer the traditional watch style with smart functionality, which isn’t always achievable with a touchscreen. They also tend to be more affordable than those with touchscreens.
All smartwatches deliver alerts for incoming calls, emails, and text messages by silently buzzing on your wrist, so you can discreetly check whether it needs dealing with straight away.
Most will let you set custom notifications for specific alerts to let you know what’s happening without needing to check your wrist.
The battery life of smartwatches depends on the features supported and how often you use it. To give you an idea of how often you’ll need to charge it we list average battery life on our online product pages.
A smart home uses the latest technology to make your life easier. Smart home devices are controlled using apps on your smartphone, allowing you control when you need it.
Incorporating home security, heating, lighting, and more, you can control everything in your home from almost anywhere in the world.
Smart lighting lets you set the mood with the flexibility to change the colour and brightness of the lights in any room.
In addition to giving you control, smart lighting can offer more efficiency to help save you money. Instant smartphone control, motion sensors, and timers can all help reduce energy consumption.
Some lighting systems work with other smart home systems, such as Nest and Samsung SmartThings, allowing you to pair lights with switches and sensors. For example, when your Nest Thermostat is in Away Mode, your lights can occasionally turn on and off in order to deter burglars.
Smart cameras can be placed around your home and instantly viewed on your smartphone or tablet. Helping increase your home security, they are ideal for keeping an eye on sleeping babies, or ensuring your family is home safely while you’re at work.
You can pair them with other smart home devices too, so you can receive an alert and a live stream from the camera if a motion detector trips, a door is opened when everyone’s out, your baby cries, and more.
WiFi Security Cameras
WiFi security cameras are the next generation of CCTV cameras. They allow you to record what’s happening around your property, and receive notifications if loud noises or excessive movement is detected. This lets you check and deal with any issues as they happen.
Footage can be stored straight onto the Cloud, so it’s always protected even if the digital video recorder is damaged or stolen.
All-in-One Home Security Systems
All-in-one security systems combine motion sensors, cameras, and other security features in a single device.
Covering high-traffic areas without the need for multiple devices, they’re ideal for single rooms, small homes, and flats.
Video Baby Monitors
Video baby monitors let you see and hear your baby, so you can check on them when they make a noise without getting out of bed.
Some offer two-way communication, allowing you to soothe and comfort them with your voice without completely disturbing you and your baby’s rest.
Smart thermostats let you control your heating on your smartphone – a simple app on your smartphone lets you switch it on and off, and set the temperature. This ensures you’re never heating an empty home, even if you’re late home from work or plans change.
By learning your preferences, they will adjust the temperature automatically throughout the day to suit you, or can be programmed to come on when you’re on your way home from work, so you always walk into a warm home.
Smart locks and sensors can lock and unlock, grant access to your home without being present, or check that your windows and doors are closed, all from your smartphone wherever you are.
You can see who’s coming and going in your household with alerts and even give guests permission to enter your home using their phones.
Different brands of connected devices can work together in your home with integrated ecosystems, such as Samsung SmartThings. For example, you can set your home to ‘away mode’ with the touch of a button which turns your thermostat down, the lights off, and locks the doors.
All smart home products have an app that's compatible with most smartphones, tablets or computers. However, you should check the compatibility of your devices before you buy.
For your smart home devices to work, you’ll need a strong WiFi connection, as a fully-connected smart home can have a lot of individual devices connected at once.
To make the most of your internet connection an AC-rated route will offer the speed your smart devices require. If you want to place your smart home devices, such as a camera, in a different room from your router, a powerline kit offers connectivity without trailing wires around your home, while WiFi blackspots can be fixed with a range extender.