The 8 Best Wearable Tech to Buy in 2018

Don the latest gadgets and look stylish doing it

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As electronics get ever smaller and cheaper, the devices that contain them have done the same. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the world of wearable technology, where tiny watches, trackers, and cameras have more power and better specifications than gear that required its own backpack a few years ago.

Manufacturers are finding innovative new uses for wearable tech, too, from virtual reality headsets to cycle helmets that not only protect your head in the event of an accident but help stop you having one in the first place.

While it's easy to pay several hundred dollars for cutting-edge gear, it doesn't all cost a fortune — at least one of the wearables on this list is well under fifty dollars. Whether it lives on your wrist, your head or even your favorite puppy, this is the best wearable technology to buy today.

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Best for All-Round Use: Apple Watch 3

Apple Watch 3

Courtesy of Amazon

Just like tablets and smartphones, Apple didn't invent the smartwatch category, but it arguably perfected it. The Apple Watch 3 has an attractive design, bright and colorful screen and excellent app support.

It's easy to use, and you can get over two days on a single charge. Being able to use your voice to fire up apps, listen to music and other tasks is a huge convenience.

Activity tracking is some of the best out there, measuring things like heart rate variability that you rarely find on even dedicated fitness trackers. It tracks many different kinds of workouts and syncs with connected gym equipment as well. Swimming is measured just like any other activity, so there's no problem wearing the watch in the shower or pool.

Phone-free GPS support is included, and there's also an LTE-enabled model that keeps you connected when you're away from your phone. You'll need a separate cell data package, though, and there's a battery hit and higher upfront cost that goes with it.

The only downside? There's no support for syncing with Android or other types of device: you need to be committed to the Apple ecosystem to use it.

Best for Kids: VTech Kidizoom Action Cam

VTech Kidizoom Action Cam

Courtesy of Amazon 

Want the kids to be able to record their adventures, without spending a fortune on fragile camera gear? The VTech Kidizoom Action Cam comes in a range of bright, kid-friendly colors and attaches to their wrist with a simple strap. You can also attach it to bikes, skateboards, helmets and other flat surfaces via the included mounts.

This rugged little camera floats and is water-resistant to six feet, so can it handle the inevitable splashes and water fights. Powered by an internal rechargeable battery, it takes normal photos and video, as well as time-lapse and stop-motion.

Footage is stored on a microSD card and is easy to transfer to phones and computers for editing and sharing with a micro-USB cable. There's also a 1.8" screen on the camera, for immediate playback.

The VGA video resolution is low by today's standards, but that's the only downside of this fun wearable camera for kids aged four to nine.

Best for Fitness Tracking on a Budget: Xiaomi Mi Band 2

Fitness tracking is by far the most popular use for wearable tech, but most of them cost well over a hundred dollars. If you'd like to try it out without making a big investment, the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 offers all the main features at a fraction of the cost.

Amazingly for a tracker at this price, the Mi Band 2 tracks sleep patterns and heart rate, as well as steps, distance, pace, calories burn and more. It displays the current time by default and syncs with your phone to display caller ID, text messages and notifications from apps such as Facebook and Twitter.

The tracker is fine to wear in the shower, although it's not intended for use while swimming. Inexpensive and reliable, the Mi Band 2 is a great way of to start keeping a closer eye on your health.

Best for Virtual Reality: Oculus Rift Headset and Controllers

Virtual reality headsets have come a long way in the last couple of years, and the Oculus Rift is a great example. Released in 2016, it immediately changed the expectations of what a VR headset could do — and the Touch controller that followed later that year cemented the Rift as the best of the bunch.

Gaming in virtual reality is a unique experience, and the Rift has the widest range of titles to choose from. Plugging into your computer, the headset is comfortable even when worn for long periods, and is remarkably immersive due to its quality sound and high resolution and refresh rate.

Buy an extra sensor and you'll even get room-scale tracking, where the system can monitor your position within a roughly 8x8-foot square, and react accordingly.

Easy to setup and use, with responsive controllers and the best games, the Oculus Rift offers the best consumer VR experience you can have right now.

Best for Serious Athletes: Garmin Forerunner 735XT Tracker

Whenever you see an XT on the end of one of Garmin's watch models, you know it's a high-end piece of equipment. The Forerunner 735XT multi-sports tracker is no exception, with features and a price tag to match.

While triathletes will get the most out of this watch, detailed support for everything from running, cycling, and swimming, through hiking, cross-country skiing, paddle sports and more means any serious athlete will get value out of it.

With a slimline design you don't often find in waterproof sports watches, GPS that's quick to lock on and highly accurate and a battery that lasts several days, the Forerunner 735XT is a big improvement over both the competition and Garmin's earlier models.

It includes features like heart rate variability, sleep tracking, VO2max and lactate threshold alerting, and many, many more.  Easy customization and detailed metrics are just the icing on the cake.

Best for Cycling: Coros Omni Smart Helmet

When you think of fancy wearable technology, cycle helmets aren't the first thing that springs to mind. Coros has been aiming to change that with its range of feature-packed smart helmets, and the Omni is the best of the bunch.

As well as the basic requirement of protecting your head in an accident, the Omni includes a bone-conduction audio system, letting you listen to streaming music via Bluetooth while leaving your ears free to hear what's going on around you. There's also an inbuilt microphone, with noise-cancelation to cut out the sound of traffic and wind.

A pair of LED lights on the rear also help other road users see you in dim conditions. You'll get around eight hours of music and light out of a single charge, which should be enough to get you through all but the very longest rides.

The included remote attaches to your handlebars, letting you answer calls, play, pause and skip tracks, and adjust the volume without having to reach for your phone.

Best for Style: Skagen Falster Smartwatch

Skagen Falster Smartwatch

Courtesy of Amazon

One of the biggest issue with wearable tech is that, well, most of the time you look like you're wearing a piece of technology. For some people, that's fine, but it's a deal breaker for many others.

For a more attractive option, check out Skagen’s Falster range of slimline smartwatches. The straps are available in leather and stainless steel variants, but whichever one you go for, it will look great alongside one of the minimalist face designs. The end result is far more sleek and stylish than most other smartwatches can manage.

Standard smartwatch features like calls and texts, e-mail and calendar are included, and there's a button on the side for dealing with power, apps and talking to Google Assistant. Battery life is about a day between charges.

Without GPS or heart rate monitoring, the watch is fine for basic exercise and workout tracking, but you don't get the advanced features of a dedicated activity tracker. Still, if you’re after a stylish, dressier alternative to most smartwatches, the Skagen Falster is it.

Best for Pets: Whistle 3 Pet Tracker

Of course, it's not just humans that benefit from wearable tech. Several companies have brought out trackers for your furry friends, with the Whistle 3 being the most popular. Durable and waterproof, the device weighs under an ounce​ and attaches to collars up to one inch wide.

Aimed at anything weighing eight pounds or more, the Whistle 3 uses GPS and cell service to track your pet anywhere in the U.S. using the AT&T network. A monthly subscription is required for the cellular tracking service.

It's also possible to set up "safe zones" based on your Wi-Fi networks. When your pet is within range, the Whistle 3 switches to Wi-Fi to save battery life. You can get an alert when the device enters or leaves a defined area, in case it means your cat or dog is wandering somewhere they shouldn't.

You can see the most recent location on a map at any time, as well as where your pet has been in the last 24 hours. For owners worried about the amount of exercise their animal is getting, there's also an activity monitor in the app.

Battery life is around a week if the device stays within Wi-Fi range the entire time, less if your pet is roaming around elsewhere.