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Fitbit or Misfit: Which fitness wristband is right for you?

It’s clear that both brands are venturing in the direction of aesthetically appealing wearables, but is one of these trackers the right motivating accessory for you?

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    A man walks between two screens displaying new smart watches from fitbit at CES International, January, 2016, in Las Vegas. Thousands of gadget companies from around the world gather this week in Las Vegas to show off their latest items.
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Earlier this year, Misfit debuted what it touts as its most minimal and versatile activity tracker ever — the Ray. Fitbit, too, upgraded its lineup with a new device called the Alta, a fitness wristband that’s as much a fashion statement as an activity tracker.

It’s clear that both brands are venturing in the direction of aesthetically appealing wearables, but is one of these trackers the right motivating accessory for you?

We put the Misfit head-to-head with the Fitbit to help you decide.

What we found: The Misfit Ray reimagines the way people wear their tracker. In addition to the standard band setup, you can wear the Ray like a necklace.

What you’ll learn: The Ray is approximately $30 more affordable than the Alta, but you’ll have to replace its battery every six months.

  Misfit Ray Fitbit Alta
Price $99.99 from Misfit $129.95 from Fitbit
Color Carbon black, rose gold Black, plum, blue, teal
All-day activity tracking Yes Yes
Sleep monitoring Yes Yes
Smart notifications Yes Yes
Heart rate monitoring No No
Music control Yes No
Battery life Up to 6 months before needing replacement Up to 5 days before needing to be recharged
Water-resistant Yes Yes
Buy on Amazon Buy Misfit Buy Fitbit

Design

These two sleek devices prove that activity tracking has come a long way from the days of bulky watches that weigh down your wrist.

The Misfit Ray is a cylindrical, anodized, aircraft-grade aluminum tracker that’s sold in rose gold or carbon black. The device is 1.5 inches long and has a diameter of 0.47 inch. You can thread it on its included band to wear it as a traditional wrist tracker or hang it from a chain or cord and wear it as a necklace.

The Ray features a multicolor LED display that lights up to show your progress toward your activity goals and alert you to notifications such as incoming calls, texts and wake-up alarms. Vibrations accompany the lighted reminders.

The Fitbit Alta looks more like the activity tracking bands that consumers are familiar with, but with a slim and stylish twist. The Fitbit Alta tracker snaps into a band that’s just 0.61 inch wide and comes in bright colors like plum, blue and teal.

The tracker has an OLED display that you can tap to view stats, time of day and smartphone notifications. You can configure stats vertically or horizontally and choose from various clock faces.

Functionality

Let’s take a look at the features these two devices have in common. Both the Misfit Ray and the Fitbit Alta can:

  • Track activity. Each provides round-the-clock monitoring of things such as steps taken, calories burned and distance traveled. Neither tracker monitors heart rate.
  • Monitor sleep. They can show you how long and how well you sleep with sleep duration and quality monitoring.
  • Send smart notifications. When synced with a compatible smartphone, these wearables notify users of incoming calls and texts.
  • Repel water. Don’t worry about a splash or two with these trackers. The Misfit Ray is water-resistant to 50 meters, which means you can wear it while swimming. The Fitbit Alta is sweat-, rain- and splash-proof.
  • Remind you to move. These devices will give you a nudge after you’ve been inactive for too long.

We identified several areas where these wearables make their mark and stand apart.

With the help of the Misfit Link app, you can use the Misfit Ray like a controller to perform tasks on your smartphone such as taking selfies, playing music and adjusting lights. The Alta lacks this feature.

One of the most notable differences between these two products, at least on a day-to-day basis, is their battery life. The Ray is powered by replaceable cell batteries, so you don’t need to recharge it between uses. The batteries will generally last six months before you need to replace them.

The Alta contains a rechargeable lithium-polymer battery. It has a life of up to five days, but Fitbit recommends charging it every few days to ensure you don’t lose any tracking time. Recharging takes one to two hours.

Another notable difference is that you can wear the Ray in the pool. That’s a feature many activity trackers don’t offer, leaving lap swimmers and water exercisers high and dry.

Price

The Misfit Ray retails for $99.99, while the Fitbit Alta costs $129.95.

The $99.99 Misfit set includes the Ray tracker and a sport band. If you prefer a leather band, you can buy a different set for $119.99. Misfit promises more accessories coming soon.

Switching bands is also an option for the Alta. Replacement classic bands cost $29.95, leather bands run $59.95, and a metal bracelet costs $99.95.

If you’re looking for a deal on the Ray or Alta, we recommend shopping at Amazon, where discounts on activity trackers and fitness wearables happen regularly.

Even if you can take advantage of a sale, there could be more ways to maximize your savings. For instance, buying your activity tracker with a rewards credit card can earn you cash back.

Which one fits?

So are you more of a Fitbit fan or a member of the Misfit following?

If you haven’t already pledged loyalty to one of these brands, we recommend trying the Misfit Ray. It’s more affordable, doesn’t require recharging after use, and appeals to the most social of users with the ability to use it with your smartphone to take selfies and control music.

If you’re more of a data person, though, you’ll likely enjoy the Fitbit Alta for its OLED tap display that shows stats. The Alta is more expensive, but it’s in it for the long haul, thanks to its rechargeable battery and Fitbit’s hefty line of interchangeable accessories that you can buy separately.

Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email:courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @courtneynerd.

The article originally appeared on NerdWallet.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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