Good fitness technology should not be limited by price. Just as everyone deserves the opportunity to exercise, eat healthier, and become the best version of themselves, the technology that makes it easier should be available to as many people as possible.
The wearables in our list of best cheap fitness trackers are generally very good, capable of accurately tracking the wearer’s heart rate, calories burned, sleep, exercise, and allowing the wearer to receive text messages and other notifications on to see their pulse. Most of these trackers start at around $50 / £45 / AU$85, although the best smartwatches from Garmin and Apple are often very expensive.
While browsing our guide to cheap fitness trackers, I suddenly thought: what if I went cheaper? With a few fitness trackers sold in local pound shops (the UK’s equivalent of US dollar stores and other similar discount stores) for a pittance, I began to wonder if they could hold a candle to the entry-level efforts of the best Fitbit and Huawei which tops our fitness gadget lists.
So, I went ahead and picked one up and analyzed it the same way I would any other smartwatch – comparing it to a top performer to test the watch’s performance and check the accuracy of its stats.
Viido Fitness Tracker: Design and Features
The Viido fitness tracker, a Chinese-made product, was purchased from Poundland for £13 ($16 in the US, or AU$22.69 in Australia). It’s a simple tire tracker with a pebble-style plastic face and a silicone strap. When I first tore open the box, it had no instructions, and a plug-in charger that didn’t seem to fit. Looking around online, it seems that others who got it had some basic instructions, and because I’m so used to magnetic chargers, it took me a full 10 minutes to realize that you’re removing the plastic pebble the silicone container must be removed to reveal a charging socket at the bottom of the pebble. Good start.
The watch gives you a claimed three days of battery life. The unit is all plastic, with the exception of the watch’s internals, and barely weighs a thing. An LED sensor on the back is designed to monitor your heart rate, calories, and so on, while a touch-sensitive button marked by a small circle sticker serves as the watch’s multi-purpose action button. You can press it repeatedly to scroll through your options, and hold it for two seconds to select something. It can get very dull when there are more than a handful of options to cycle through, but the watch does a surprisingly good job of keeping things streamlined.
The Viido tracker gives you a home “condition” function that reads out the steps you’ve taken and calories burned that day, a heart rate monitor, SPO2 blood oxygen sensor, blood pressure monitor (which I was extremely hesitant about: even the best LED sensors struggle with blood pressure, which gave rise to the Huawei Watch D), sport modes (only steps, sit-ups and skip, oddly enough), weather and basic music controls, which allow you to pause, play, skip or back to return to the beginning of the track.
To get it all working, you need to download the Yoho Sports app, a screwy piece of software that I was (and still am) mildly concerned could clone my phone or nick my bank details. It contains basic settings, including the ability to toggle features such as the internal gyroscope, which allows the watch’s motion sensor to bring the screen to life when you lift your arm, and allows you to change the watch face to one of twelve or so to exchange for. -generated backgrounds. The app also allows you to input your height, weight, age and other stats, presumably for more accurate surveys.
All in all, quite a good range of features for $16 / £13 /AU$22.50. But how does it all work in practice? To test it out, I compared its performance to that of my favorite fitness watch from last year: the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar, which sells for about thirty times the price of the Viido. Is the Viido a rip-off? Are his health stats accurate? And if they are really accurate, why do people pay all this money for premium fitness trackers?
Viido fitness tracker: performance
First, the tracker is incredibly tight for popping in and out of the silicone band. I really thought I was going to break it, or it wasn’t supposed to pop out this way, until I found the charging port and saw I was doing the right thing. It wasn’t the least bit intuitive. After I did take it out, the pebble took three hours to charge for three days of juice. The Forerunner takes less than one hour and gives you about three weeks, and even a Fitbit Inspire 3 offers seven days of life on a full charge.
Once it charged, I placed it next to my Forerunner and started the heart rate monitor. The Viido doesn’t have an always-on heart rate monitor; you have to manually activate it before it shows a snapshot of heart rate readings. I sat still, but my heart rate was wildly swinging from the 50s to the 120s, while my Forerunner sat resolutely around the 68-72 mark. I sighed: so far, as expected. I switched the tracker to my other wrist and went out for a coffee.
When I returned, I had a pleasant surprise: the Viido tracker was accurate to within 150 yards of my Forerunner’s readings. At least that was one yardstick I could count on. I tried the blood oxygen sensor, and got 92, while my Forerunner (to my delight) got 93. Accurate blood oxygen reading from a fitness tracker that costs the same as a cinema ticket! Outstanding. The music controls also worked well from my phone, but that’s where the good stuff ended for me.
I was severely disappointed with the lack of workout options (only three, and no running!), with no way to change them in the app. The custom clocks you can select through the app didn’t fill the screen, but appeared as a grainy image-within-an-image, like you might show someone a photo on a flip phone. I couldn’t tell exactly what resolution the screen on the Viido was: the packaging didn’t tell me, and neither did Poundland’s website. When the official Viido website was spotted by my antivirus software, I decided to look no further.
Although the watch is said to be able to record your sleep and display it in the Yoho app, it didn’t. I wore it for two nights and have no sleep data whatsoever, and there is no toggle switch that I could find to allow it to do this. The tracker would frequently unpair and re-pair (I would get three or four notifications a day saying my fitness tracker was “paired” again) and future walks weren’t nearly as accurate on the stairs, missing the mark by a few thousand missed steps at the end of the day.
All in all, even at the price I paid for it, this tracker is a waste of money. At its best, you can tell the time, control your music while walking and get notifications on your wrist. At worst, it will provide a lot of incorrect health information, giving you wildly inaccurate heart rate and step count data. The old saying that you get what you pay for isn’t always true in technology, but it certainly is here.
Unfortunately, those hoping to discover a discounted hidden gem will be disappointed. Better to wait, save another $40 and pick up a Huawei Band 7 or another similar cheap fitness tracker, as long as it’s better than that.