From Tommy Thompson to Ronald McDonald™, everyone seems to be step counting these days. But what separates the tools from the trinkets? Let's look inside popular pedometers and find out.  
ACC - Accelerometer | SLA - Suspended Lever Arm | HS - Hairspring | CS - Coil Spring
MRS - Magnetic Reed Switch | MC - Metal Contacts | DC - Dampened Contacts








   
Overall:      
High accuracy and reliability proven by many recent independent research studies. One recent study shows accelerometers are more accurate at any walking speed, even slower speeds where suspended lever arm pedometers lose steps. Less sensitive to positioning, it is ideal for either older or overweight users. Can be complicated for some users. ~11 month battery life. Silent.  
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Retail Price: $55 
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Mechanism: ACC
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Digiwalker SW Series

Yamax
Overall:      
Considered to be the 'Gold Standard' of pedometers by many researchers.
Several models--SW-200, SW-401, SW-651, SW-700, and SW-701--with various functions are available. All have the same internal sensor. Many researchers use this as a criterion pedometer.
 
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Retail Price: $22-30
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Mechanism: SLA / CS / DC
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Fitware

Highgear
Overall:      
Good accuracy at all walking speeds, even during daily activity despite the 10 step auto filter that generally causes undercounting. Not recommended for joggers, for testing showed the Fitware lost around 10% of steps while jogging unless worn centered below the belly button. Cannot read button functions while wearing the pedometer, but the display is easily visible. Contemporary design with rubberized outer surface. ~7 month battery life. Silent.  
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Retail Price: $30-45

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Mechanism: ACC
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Pacer Pro
 
 Freestyle
Overall:      
The microchip in the Pacer Pro contains an auto filter that begins to count steps starting with the 5th step. This causes the pedometer to undercount during daily use. Packed with features, yet smaller than most, this pedometer only lacks mechanical accuracy and durability. Very loud.  
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Retail Price: $20
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Mechanism: SLA / HS / MC
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 HJ-112
 
 Omron
Overall:      
This accelerometer has two internal strain gauges intended to let the user place the pedometer either normally on the waist or carry in the pocket. Good accuracy at slower speeds (<2.5mph) on the treadmill. A 12 step auto filter counteracts bouncing in the pocket, but causes the pedometer to undercount during daily movement by about 50% during tests on the waist. ~6 month battery life. Silent.
 
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Retail Price: $30
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Mechanism: ACC
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Overall:      
Same internal sensor as the Walk4Life pedometer directly below, but at a cost more fitting of the quality and durability of the pedometer. Several models with various functions are available that are similar to the LS series below.
 
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Retail Price: $7-15
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Mechanism: SLA / HS / MC
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 LS Series
 
 Walk4Life, Inc.
Overall:      
Although this pedometer performed well on the treadmill, its performance fell short during free-living activity. Poor reliability and a disappointing timer function lowered the overall score. Several models--LS 2500, LS 2505, LS 2515, and LS 2525--with various functions are available. All have the same internal sensor that generally over-counts during free-living use.
 
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Retail Price: $23-29
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Mechanism: SLA / HS / MC
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 SportBrain iStepX
 
 SportBrain
Overall:      
The USB computer upload capability sets this pedometer apart, but its internal mechanism is poorly constructed. Good accuracy, but low reliability and poor durability means it will not retain accuracy for long. The long hairspring lost tension quickly during tests. Large LCD. ~4 month battery life.
 
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Retail Price: $25 (large variance)
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Mechanism: SLA / HS / MRS
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 Sportline 345
 
 Sportline
 Overall:      
Rated the lowest in intraclass reliability during treadmill testing, it may take purchasing several 345s to find an accurate one. This pedometer is relabeled under several names depending on the retailer.  
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 Retail Price: $25
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Mechanism: SLA / HS / MC
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 Freestyle Tracer
 
 Freestyle

 Overall:      
This pedometer tested well counting slower-paced walking, thanks to the weak hairspring and overcounting. The circuit design is worse than most low-end pedometers and was the only one tested that continually counted steps with a closed circuit. Exposed buttons accidentally reset. Battery can be difficult to replace.  
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 Retail Price: $20
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Mechanism: SLA / HS / MC
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 AX120
 
 Accusplit
Overall:      
Also known as the America on the Move pedometer, the AX120 is an imitation of the Digiwalker's case, but the internal components are vastly different. The different internal mechanism generally undercounts steps.
 
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Retail Price: $25
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Mechanism: SLA / HS / MRS
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 Sportline 330
 
 Sportline
Overall:      
Although it performed well measuring free-living activity, this pedometer performed very poorly during a more controlled test, making it extremely unpredictable. LCD is large, but not easily visible at most angles. Very loud.
 
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Retail Price: $10
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Mechanism: SLA / HS / DC
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 Pro Series
 
 Bodytronics
Overall:      
Virtually the same pedometer internally as the Sportline 330, the Bodytronics pedometer's mechanism is slightly smaller than the Sportline, but still very loud and 'clunky.' Several models with different features exist.
 
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Retail Price: $15
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Mechanism: SLA / HS / MC
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Again the similar pedometer internally as the Sportline 330 and the Bodytronics, the TrekLINQ adds several features and 5 buttons that testers found confusing. Plastic hinges and small readout on the display hurt the overall score.  
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Retail Price: $10
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Mechanism: SLA / HS / MC
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 Sportline 343
 
 Sportline
Overall:      
The combination of this pedometer's height and its short spring-loaded clip cause it to easy move out of proper position. Typical Sportline loud metal-on-metal contact. Two batteries to power the voice that reads the step count, which counteracts the fact that the LCD is difficult to read.
 
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Retail Price: $20
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Mechanism: SLA / HS / MC
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 HJ-105
 
 Omron
Overall:      
This pedometer tested inaccurate during all forms of activity. Despite rather ingenious and unique internal sensor placement, the design caused it to count poorly on obese body types, hurting this pedometer's overall ranking. Very short battery life: 2-3 months.
 
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Retail Price: $20
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Mechanism: SLA / HS / MRS
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 Qone+
 
 Bodytronics
Overall:      
Internally similar to the Sportline 330 and the Bodytronics Pro pedometers, the Qone+ is of similar "giveaway" quality. Bright, yet small LCD. Very loud.
 
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Retail Price: $10
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Mechanism: SLA / HS / MC
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 StepLinq
 
 President's Challenge
Overall:      
Noise was the most common complaint about the StepLinq, and the internal components do nothing to dampen it. An exposed reset button, spring-loaded clip that disrupts placement, and small display make this pedometer inferior and explain the low cost.
 
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Retail Price: $12
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Mechanism: SLA / HS / MC
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 Robic M307
 
 Robic
Overall:      
An imitation of the Digiwalker, the Robic M307 has an adjustment switch that is difficult to adjust properly. The internal mechanism, despite a resemblance to the Digiwalker, is made of cheap parts that give the pedometer a 'clunky' feel. ~11 month battery life.
 
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Retail Price: $18
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Mechanism: SLA / CS / DC
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 PE316CA
 
 Oregon Scientific
Overall:      

Overestimation of over 40% during free-living activity makes this pedometer a poor choice for daily use. Oregon Scientific sells this mechanism with many additional features like a pulse monitor, panic alarm, and radio. Two batteries: one battery powers backlight only.

 
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Retail Price: $15
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Mechanism: SLA / HS / MRS
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 PE316PM
 
 Oregon Scientific
Overall:      

The internal sensor is slightly different than the CA model to accommodate the fingertip sensor. Like its sibling pedometers, the parts are extremely low-quality. The pulse feature makes this pedometer one of the bulkiest tested. Battery life tested to be a mere 2 months.

 
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Retail Price: $20
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Mechanism: SLA / HS / MRS
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A pedometer of giveaway quality. Durability is the biggest concern; this pedometer is so far the first one tested where the lever arm strikes the metal layer on a printed circuit board. The internal screws used were so poor that some had been stripped during assembly. Battery life tested to a solid 3 years.

 
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Retail Price: $10
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Mechanism: SLA / HS
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 Stepometer
 
 McDonalds
Overall:      
McDonald's marketing has brought awareness to the general public about the step counting movement. Hopefully those that come in contact with this pedometer realize that accurate, well-designed alternatives exist. *Battery life varies due to internal revision.
 
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Retail Price: $3
Battery Life*: 
Mechanism: SLA / HS / MC
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