10 top wearable devices for audio, video, fitness and more

In a crowded market of wearable technology, these 10 devices stand above the rest.

10 Top Wearable Devices for Audio, Video, Fitness and More

The last few months have seen an uptick in the shipment or unveiling of wearable devices designed to help you improve productivity and boost your overall wellness and health. With so many new products on the market, though, it can be hard to keep track of everything. Here are 10 top wearable devices to watch during the 2013 holiday shopping season and beyond.

Paul Mah is a freelance writer and blogger who lives in Singapore. He has worked in various capacities within the IT industry and enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones and networking devices. You can reach him at paul@mah.sg and follow him on Twitter at @paulmah.

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Galaxy Gear
Galaxy Gear

Designed specifically as a companion for certain Samsung smartphones, the Galaxy Gear ($299) is arguably the most powerful smartwatch available. A 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display fronts the device, while its embedded autofocus camera offers 1.9 megapixel photos or 720p video recording. The device is powered by an 800MHz processor with 512MB of RAM and topped off with 4GB of internal storage. Paired with a supported smartphone via Bluetooth, the Galaxy Gear works with a variety of productivity, social and fitness apps available for Android.

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Fitbit Force
Fitbit Force

The Fitbit Force ($129.95) activity tracker is a sleek wristband equipped with an OLED display. The Force keeps track of the number of active minutes in the day, tabulated by the steps taken and stairs climbed, as well as the quality of sleep at night. In addition, a built-in vibrating alarm can wake you up without disturbing your partner. Synchronization is performed wirelessly through Bluetooth 4.0, and embedded NFC capability lets you launch the Fitbit app simply by tapping selected Android devices with the Fitbit Force.

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Instabeat
Instabeat

The Instabeat ($149) all-in-one swimming monitor tracks heart rate to offer real-time feedback when you’re in the pool, lake or ocean. The device mounts on the straps of any swimming goggles, and uses patent-pending technology to read the heart rate from the temporal artery. This information is communicated to the wearer using a series of color-coded LEDs. Built-in lithium-ion battery offers eight hours of usage. Information can be synched to a computer through the USB port. Instabeat is expected to ship in December 2013.

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Jawbone UP24
Jawbone UP24

The Jawbone UP24 ($149.99) is the wireless Bluetooth variant of the original UP wristband made by Jawbone, a pioneer in the activity tracker market. Worn on the wrist, the UP24 help track calories burned throughout the day, as well as sleep quality at night. Using data provided by the UP24, the free UP app will attempt to interpret collected statistics to find hidden connections and patterns gleaned from both daytime and nighttime activities. Available in black or red.

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Kapture Audio
Kapture Audio

Worn on the wrist, the unique Kapture Audio ($99) continuously captures sound via its built-in microphone. The device keeps a 60-second buffer in an audio loop that continuously overwrites itself. Tapping the device to save the latest 60-second snippet and then download it to a smartphone for archiving or sharing. A Kickerstarter-funded project, the Kapture is in its final design stages and is expected to ship in March 2014.

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Looxcie 2
Looxcie 2

The Looxcie 2 ($99.99) wearable video camera is worn like a typical hands-free headset. You can set the lightweight built-in camera to either record video continuously to local storage, or to stream video in real-time. Alternatively, the device can also record everything in a continuous loop, saving the last 30 seconds of video when the instant clip button is pressed. In video looping mode, the built-in lithium-ion battery is good for up to four hours. The Looxcie 2 comes equipped with a default lens that offers a 65.5-degree field of view; zoom and wide-angle lenses are also available.

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Misfit Shine
Misfit Shine

The rugged yet elegant Misfit Shine ($119.95) physical activity monitor can be worn on the wrist, as a necklace, or even attached to a belt. A single button cell battery covers up to five months of usage. Tapping the device twice shows the time as embedded LED lights blink the information through laser-drilled holes so small the device is waterproof. To sync with an iOS device, simply launch the Shine app and place the device on the indicated spot on the screen. (A company representative says an Android version of the app will be available in January 2014.)

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Pebble
Pebble

The Pebble smartwatch ($150) is equipped with a 1.26-inch e-paper display and LED backlight. Under the hood, it hosts a variety of sensors such as a compass, 3-D accelerometer and ambient light sensor. The device lasts up to seven days between charges and offers Bluetooth 4.0 wireless. Part of Pebble's attraction is its integration with a variety of apps as well as its open API. Support from third-party apps aside, it's also possible to write C apps that run directly on the Pebble. Available in gray, black, red, orange and white.

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Withings Pulse
Withings Pulse

The Withings Pulse ($99) activity monitor tracks steps taken, elevation climbed and distance traveled. More importantly, the Withings Pulse also has heart rate measurement built in, and automatically synchronizes via Bluetooth to supported Android and iOS devices. The OLED touch screen shows recent activity history, and lasts for two weeks on a single charge using the included micro USB cable. The unobtrusive device can be inserted into a pocket or bag or clipped to a belt or shirt; a sleep wristband also facilities the monitoring sleep cycles and quality of rest.

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Sony SmartWatch 2
Sony SmartWatch 2

The Sony SmartWatch 2 ($199.99) comes with a 1.6-inch LCD display that's readable in direct sunlight. The device features built-in NFC technology for one-touch pairing with NFC-enabled Android smartphones. Wireless Bluetooth 3.0 lets the SmartWatch 2 serve as a phone remote for handling calls and to serve as a conduit for incoming messages and social media updates. The onboard battery is recharged via micro USB and lasts up to seven days. Finally, the Sony SmartWatch 2 is water-resistant and works with a standard 24mm wrist strap. (It comes with a wrist strap, too.)

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