The best wearable tech money can buy

We round up the top devices from running watches to action cameras
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Wearable tech has well and truly taken off, and there's now so many top devices it's hard to keep track. From the best sports watches to fitness trackers and action cams, the hottest tech is designed to be strapped, clipped and mounted to help you get more from your life and hobbies.

From glasses that serve up maps directly into your line of sight and jewellery that tracks your sun exposure, to cameras that reel off snaps as you run, swim or cycle. These are just some of the exciting new products up for grabs. Want in? Then here’s our pick of the best wearable gadgets you can buy right now.

The tracker: Garmin VivoSmart

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The Garmin Vivosmart is a superbly designed crafted fitness tracker which offers a host of basic, but accurate, activity monitoring features. Unlike other fitness trackers, the smartwatch-style notifications work without issue and the Garmin Connect platform is one of the most comprehensive out there. The only issue is the strong competition coming from the likes of the Fitbit Charge HR and Jawbone UP3 – both of which are expected to drop in the New Year with impressive features and specs.

Read this first: The best fitness and activity trackers.

£139/$169, garmin.com

The smartwatch: LG G Watch R

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The first smartwatch you’ll love to wear, the LG G Watch R has set the bar for the next generation and along with the excellent Moto 360, changed attitudes toward wearable tech. In our LG G Watch R review we waxed lyrical about the combination of "excellent hardware and the promising Android Wear OS". The only problem for anyone choosing the G Watch R is that it won't turn heads – and that's because it already looks like a proper watch. Job done.

£225/$249, lg.com

The running watch: Polar V800

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The ultimate training timepiece runners, the Polar V800 is one of the best GPS running watches out there. It has pace, distance, fat burn calories and max heart rate nailed, making it one of the most complete watches out there. The screen is superbly clear and there's a range of accessories for cyclists, too. Not only are its results some of the most comprehensive and accurate, it even helps you gauge your recovery, too.

£315, polar.com


The specs: Google Glass Explorer Edition

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Google’s revolutionary smart specs are finally available to buy in the UK. They’re absolutely laden with amazing tech. Tap the side of the frames to take 5-megapixel images and record high definition quality video. Use voice control to bring up web searches, which are shown on a display beamed in front of your eyes. And call up maps so you can get from A to B looking straight ahead at the directions, rather than down at an app on your smartphone.

£1,000, google.com/glass

The action camera: GoPro Hero

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Sports fans, look no further. GoPro’s top-of-the-range Hero 4 is one of the coolest gadgets going. However, while the Hero 4's ability to capture 4K video at 32fps might be astounding, it's the cheaper GoPro Hero we're bigging up here. The company is offering the tiny rugged camera at just £99, and while it dispenses with 4K (we don't have a high enough resolution TV anyway), you get HD video recording and all the same features at a fraction of the price. Long live frugality.

£99, gopro.com

The lifelogger: Narrative Clip

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Automatically snapping images every thirty seconds, the Narrative Clip is the leading light in the new world of life logging. The little 5-megapixel camera unit can be slipped on the collar of a T-shirt or onto a bag and used manually by simply tapping it to take a picture. Hook it up to the Clip’s iOS or Android app and you’ll be able to see your whole day in pictures. Oddly compelling, the Clip is especially great when you’re travelling.

$229, getnarrative.com

The clobber: MBody MShorts

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It’s not just gadgets that are getting in on the act. Smart clothing is now upon us and the MBody MShorts are definitely the coolest pieces out there. These shorts pack in sensors that track your muscle activity in conjunction with a special ‘Mcell measurement module’. The idea is to show how your body works while exercising, improving your technique and minimising the chance of any niggling injuries. These cosy leg warmers are aimed at cyclists and runners in particular.

From €349, mbody.fi

Best smart jewellery: Netatmo June

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Wearable tech doesn’t have to look sporty. Just ask Netatmo. This French company has teamed up with jewellery designers to create June, a bracelet (which can also be worn as a brooch) that measures your exposure to sunlight. Tracking UVA and UVB rays, it uses WHO-accredited data to tell you when to apply sunscreen or move into the shade, all via a rather natty iPhone app. Create a special skin profile on your handset so you get tailored information while sunning yourself.

£69, netatmo.com

The all-round athlete: Garmin Fenix 2

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Cycling, running, mountaineering, skiing, swimming and watching telly (one of these is not true), the Garmin Fenix 2 tracks them all. Switch between whichever mode you need and this multi-sports maestro will make sure you know exactly where you are, where you’ve been, how you’ve got there, your performed on the way and how to get back where you started if you’ve managed to get lost in your haze of endorphins. Like all Garmin watches, the only thing we’d like to see is a built-in heart rate monitor but the Fenix 2 is compatible with enough Bluetooth accessories to get all the biometrics, speed and cadence calculations you could want. Lovely piece of kit.

£359.99, garmin.com

The gamer: Oculus Rift

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What can we say about the Oculus Rift that hasn’t been said before? That it’s the Norwegian for ‘bathroom grouting’? We could say that, but it wouldn’t be true. No, this is the wearable that’s set to change gaming in a way that simply improving chips and video output hasn’t been able to in about 10 years now. The internet is awash with wow videos of punters donning this clunky-looking HMD and vomiting expletives of praise at the white knunckle VR thrill ride it brings. Turn your head and there’s gamescape wherever you look. Create enough top titles for it and we might never want to come out again.

$350, oculus.com

The swimmer: Garmin Swim

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Hungry like the SWOLF? Then the Garmin Swim is the water watch tracker to take measure of your distance, stroke type, pace, cadence, lengths and all without having to tell it a thing. One quick click and it’s time to dive in. Once you’re out of the pool again, the watch will wirelessly upload all the data to the Garmin Connect software and what’s great about that is that it’ll put all of the results into context with whatever running and cycling you might do on the side. Also looks good as an actual watch!

£130, garmin.com

The golf pro: Game Golf

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For those whose handicap is a long way off needing swing dynamics at the nano scale, Game Golf is a friendlier wearable if you like to just play a round. The system is built on a main unit that clips onto your belt. In there is a GPS sensor that you knock into action with a series of mini clips attached to the ends of your clubs. Check in each time you address the ball and the software gets a point-by-point picture of how you’ve navigated the golf course based on your choice of clubs. What you end up with is a complete view of all the sand traps and water hazards that you failed to avoid, an idea of how the pros might have done it and probably a good giggle with your mates too.

Check out our full round up of the best golf watches, swing analysers and wearables.

£160, gamegolf.com

The sleep tracker: Beddit

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Who wants to wear a tracker round their wrist at night? Come to think of it, who wants to tell their device when they’ve dropped off and woken up too? Beddit is the sleep-pad-under-the-mattress solution that even goes so far as to suggest how deep your slumber is at any given moment. Using ballistocardiography, it listens to your breathing, measures your heart rate and combines that with your movements for a more accurate picture of your night’s rest. Want to know what’s really going in the bedroom? This is as good as it gets right now.

€149, beddit.com

The cyclist: Garmin Edge 1000

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It’s a beast of machine but, seeing as you’ll be clipping it to your handlebars, it’s not going to be too much of an issue to carry it around. The Garmin Edge 1000 is the company’s top cycling computer. It has full GPS tracking, including maps for navigation, as well as all the in-ride metrics of speed, distance and altitude that you could need to train up you from out-of-puff amateur to king of the mountains. The device links up to your phone by Bluetooth to wirelessly transmit all the data to the cloud as you go. And it’ll work the other way too, meaning that you can get text and call alerts without having to rummage around in your backpack.

£440, garmin.com

The racer: Skully AR-1

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Pilots have had heads-up displays either on-screen or fitted into their helmets for years. Now it’s time for motorcycle riders to get the same. The Skully AR-1 is expensive but that’s because you’re getting a display inside to augment your riding with a rear view, speed, navigation, notifications and in-helmet phone calls and music too. It’ll also look out for your bonse should you come a cropper. On top of all that, it looks pretty mean too.

$1,399, skullysystem.com

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By

I'm a technology and sports journalist and writer with over 15 years experience. Most recently my role centres around monetising editorial in a content lead role at Future Publishing, writing for What Hi-Fi, TechRadar.

I'm also a published author and a presenter for both national radio and for video too. I've appeared on TV news channels, online videos, podcasts and I've worked for BBC Radio 2, Radio 4 and had a regular slot on BBC Asian Network as the resident gadget expert.

In a previous life, I was a professional actor. I also lectured at Harlow College on digital publishing for two years. Loves include skiing, cats, canoeing, singing and football.


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