The Fitbit is a pedometer on steroids. It can count your steps, record your physical activities, and even gauge how well you sleep at night.
It has been a long journey for Fitbit admirers, since it’s announcement at TechCrunch50 in 2008. Shortly after the announcement, they began taking pre-orders and it wasn’t until late 2009 that the product began shipping.
The Fitbit features technology that is similar to the Nintendo Wii’s Wii Remote, in which it contains an accelerometer and can accurately count steps in your pocket, clipped to your belt, or anywhere you might put it (on your person).
It comes with a wireless base station which also doubles as a charger for the Fitbit, in which once you install the software on your computer, it will wirelessly transmit your data to the Fitbit servers in which you can immediately see. The web site has no monthly charge.
It also comes with a belt clip and a wrist strap. The Fitbit is actually designed in such a way that you can clip it onto thin belts and clothes without the belt clip, but if you have a large belt like I do, you will need the clip. It slides in and out of the clip easily without having to remove the entire clip for easy viewing.
The wrist strap is used for night use as the Fitbit tracks your sleep. Simply press and hold the button on the Fitbit until it reads “Start” and it has entered a type of trip odometer mode, which will then automatically determine if you are sleeping and categorize it as such automatically. When you wake up in the morning, you simply press and hold the button again until it reads “Stop”, ending your sleep activity.
The trip odometer function can be used for many activities which are all selectable on the web site. You simply choose from the extensive list, such as running, playing music, car repair to name a few, and the system categorizes your activities and sets basic caloric burn from these activities. This better estimates your overall activity levels even though the pedometer may not be increasing.
The battery life is quite good. The web site estimates you can use the device for 10 days before charging it again. I generally can go one to two weeks before worrying about charging it. The only thing I wish it had was a replaceable battery, so I could swap in a fresh one. Fitbit is meant to be with you all day and night, so there really is no downtime for it to be charged.
A good compromise to this is to put the Fitbit onto the charger when you are using the computer, as you are sitting down and it does not need to track steps, and you can log your “using computer” activity. Another possibility is to charge it in small portions when taking a shower, as the Fitbit is not water friendly.
Since I have been using Fitbit, I have had a couple issues… firstly, the belt clip I used began to become too stretched and eventually broke. I e-mailed support, and they very quickly said they would ship me a new belt clip at no additional charge. Most recently, my original Fitbit stopped working… I once again contacted support and they very graciously offered to replace my Fitbit at no charge. I can’t say enough good things about the people at Fitbit. I am sure most people are leery to spend a fair amount of money on these devices… they are small, and they can break… but the people at Fitbit stand behind their product and believe that a happy customer is a return customer. I always spread the good word to my friends and family about the Fitbit and a number of them have purchased them too.
Since it’s initial inception, Fitbit continues to make changes. They now have a Fitbit Ultra, which counts stairs automatically and has two different color choices (useful for some customization and households with more than one Fitbit). Fitbit is also going to release a scale which is currently scheduled for a May release. The scale wirelessly transmits your vitals such as weight, body fat and BMI to the Fitbit web site. They are also saying that the scale known as Aria, will automatically detect who is using it and upload the data to the appropriate person’s web site for tracking and history. I am sure this information is then also automatically used with your Fitbit to keep your weight current to get more accurate readings of calorie burns.
The one criticism of Fitbit has been it’s lackluster food repository logging on it’s web site. Though they have recently changed the web site around, most people find they get better mileage of food tracking using MyFitnessPal and have it auto link to their Fitbit account.
If you are a data geek and love stats and graphs and are also concerned about your physical activity levels, you should take a look at Fitbit. It can be quite addicting.