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Six Clicks: Best wearable gift purchases for this holiday season

The wearable market continues to develop with activity trackers and smartwatches available in prices ranging from $50 to $300 or more. Matthew offers up six wearables across the pricing spectrum for you to consider.
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1 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

2014 was promised to be the year of the wearable and we saw a number of new activity trackers, Android Wear smartwatches, and an upgraded Pebble. I tested many this year and have a few recommendations as you start shopping for gifts. This image gallery list my favorites, in order of pricing, from low to high.

While it was a decent year for wearables, I think 2015 will be much more active for a couple of reasons. Microsoft, Google, and Apple are just now launching data aggregation platforms for health data and Apple won't enter the wearable market until 2015 with the Apple Watch.

Take a closer look at currently available wearables and let me know which one you prefer. If you have another recommendation, feel free to let readers know that too.

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2 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Misfit Flash

Since we are still in the infancy of the wearable evolution, you may not want to pay too much to check out the market. Misfit offers a very affordable wearable that serves as a solid daily activity tracker with a unique watch face. The Misfit Flash is an attractive wearable.

Most wearables also need to be charged up regularly, but the Misfit Flash uses a watch battery to keep you powered up for nearly six months.

  • Pros: Small form factor that can be discretely mounted or worn on a watch band; long battery life; capability to monitor sleep without any user interaction
  • Cons: None
  • Price: $49.99
  • What user is this good for? The Misfit Flash is a great device for a holiday gift, especially given the low price. It lets people experience daily activity tracking in a discrete fashion.
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3 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Fitbit Charge

Fitbit is to the daily activity tracking market what Kleenex is to the tissue market. Fitbit has three new devices and the Fitbit Charge is the first out of the gate.

The Charge HR, with continuous heart rate monitoring, should launch before the holidays for $20 more. The Fitbit Surge, with an integrated GPS receiver and music controls, will soon be available for $249.95.

  • Pros: Tracks steps, sleep, stairs, and more; robust Fitbit platform with open support for other services; caller ID functionality; one-week battery life
  • Cons: None
  • Price: $129.95
  • What user is this good for? Fitbit sets the bar for activity tracking and the Charge is one of the best. If you want a more extensive life tracking experience than that provided by Misfit, then the Fitbit Charge is one to consider.
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4 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Pebble Steel

I am an original Kickstarter backer of the Pebble and still use that version today. I tested the Pebble Steel, but was perfectly happy with my original model so didn't upgrade.

Pebble set the bar for smartwatches and has succeeded in a challenging market. Pebble continues to roll out software updates that improve the device so you can count on it to perform and it's available for a reasonable price.

  • Pros: Cross-platform support for Android and iOS devices; waterproof, durable and well-designed; Long battery life
  • Cons: Monochrome; low resolution display; proprietary charging cable
  • Price: $199
  • What user is this good for? Many people do not want to charge up their smartwatch every day and the Pebble lets you go nearly a week between charges. With recent software updates, you can even use it as a basic activity tracker so one wearable can be left behind.
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5 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The Microsoft Band is one of my favorite wearables because it can be set up for basic needs or more advanced needs. It is also the best smartwatch currently available for use with the Apple iPhone.

The Microsoft Band is Microsoft's first wearable that supports the Microsoft Health database.

  • Pros: User customizable; continuous heart rate monitor; integrated GPS receiver; two-day battery life; works with iOS, Android, and Windows Phone
  • Cons: Bit large and rigid for some people; not waterproof
  • Price: $199.99
  • What user is this good for? The Microsoft Band is great for those who want one device that provides daily activity tracking, smartwatch functionality, and basic GPS running capability. It is not for the avid marathoner or the runner who spends more than a couple hours on the road.
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6 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Moto 360

There are at least five current Android Wear smartwatches available, but I keep going back to the Moto 360 thanks to its elegant design, regular software updates, and wireless charging technology.

  • Pros: Round watchface providing full-screen visibility; lightweight; standard Qi wireless charging; accurate heart rate monitor; supple leather band; ability to swap out with standard 22mm bands
  • Cons: One-day battery life; Android only operating system
  • Price: $249.99
  • What user is this good for? The Moto 360 would be a nearly perfect smartwatch if it worked with iOS as well as Android. Android users will appreciate the fashionable design while wireless charging fans will like that no cables are needed.
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7 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The Samsung Gear S is one of the only smartwatches available that has an integrated cellular radio for true wireless communications. You can purchase a low-cost AT&T data sharing plan or use it without a connection.

The Samsung Gear S is powered by Tizen and currently requires a Galaxy Note 4 to set up and get the full experience.

  • Pros: Cellular data support for text and email on the go; large color display; GPS and ability to view maps on your wrist, keyboard and voice control
  • Cons: Requires a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 to set up and for full support; expensive
  • Price: $199.99 with contract, $299.99 without contract. Data plans apply if desired.
  • What user is this good for? The Samsung Gear S is the ultimate smartwatch for the gadget fan. It is the closest you will get to a Dick Tracy watch and is targeted to the gadget enthusiast. It currently works only with a very limited audience and will be a niche device, unless Samsung creates a way to set it up as a standalone device.

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